Negotiation in family law is a non-adversarial method where both parties try to resolve their legal issues without going to court. The parties have ongoing discussions (with or without their lawyers) until they can reach a settlement and set out the terms in a written agreement. It is important to note that independent legal advice is mandatory (for each party) to make the agreement legally binding. Either party can start negotiating at anytime and either party can withdraw at anytime because participation is voluntary. The process ends when the parties reach a settlement or when a party withdraws from the process.
- Efficient – You can reach a settlement within a few weeks for a few thousand dollars.
- Flexible – While often the preferred method early in the legal process, you can combine negotiation with other methods at anytime.
- Private – Your information is not part of the public record or accessible by the general population (or media).
- Unpredictable – Your (ex)spouse can withdraw at any time for any reason, despite all the effort, time and money that you may have invested in the process.
- Risky – Your (ex)spouse can use negotiation in bad faith, such as delaying the legal process or preventing you from using other legal methods.
Is Negotiation Right for You?
Generally, negotiation may be appropriate when there is a good level of cooperation between the parties, and it can be most effective when the parties have a mutual desire to settle their legal dispute out of court and/or to maintain an ongoing relationship. Negotiation may not be appropriate for some situations, particularly if your (ex)spouse is abusive, uncooperative, unreasonable, elusive and/or has a history of other counterproductive behavioral issues.