World leaders have often tragically discovered what the opposite of negotiation is. It’s been said that when you cannot negotiate, when you cannot talk, when you cannot reach agreements, then you have war. When it comes to your children, you don’t want to drag them into a war. You’ll want to negotiate.
Research has shown that high levels of conflict—both during and after the divorce—between parents contribute to poorer adjustment in children. Finding a way for both of you to agree and avoid litigation, your children will be spared the drama. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaborative divorce and mediation offer a way to stay out of the courtroom and promote positive communication, leading to an agreement you both can live with.
The children’s best interests
When negotiating, keeping the interests of your children first and foremost will help to create a plan that is tailored to your family’s needs. Some tips to help you negotiate the best possible plan:
- Prepare: Know the Texas child custody laws and have an attorney that values collaborative law and mediation.
- Take a deep breath: Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Be calm and polite as you remember this is for your kids.
- Be flexible: Be open to ideas other than the ones you came in with. Being flexible will help you reach the agreement that works for your family.
- The plan is your plan: You’ll want to stick to it and communicate when something like a work trip comes up. OurFamilyWizard.com is a helpful site for co-parenting. The site offers tools for coordinating custody schedules, splitting expenses and sharing your children’s health records. It also includes a message board and the innovative Tonemeter, which flags when your tone may incite conflict.
It may be a little tongue in cheek to quote from The Art of War, but here goes: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Negotiation is designed to take away the fighting and focus on what’s best for your children—which is what you really wanted from the beginning.