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Six tips for negotiating child custody changes successfully

Jun 21, 2021 | Child Custody

When parents divorce, they often continue to have interactions because of their children. And many of these interactions can involve solving problems or conflicts regarding the kids.

For instance, over time, you may need to modify your parenting plan. Unless you want to go to court for a judge to do this, which can be costly and contentious, parents will need to work with each other to negotiate a new plan. To do this, it can be wise to build up your negotiation skills.

Tips for a successful negotiation

There are several strategies and tactics to be a strong negotiator. However, in the family legal setting, some of the most valuable skills to focus on can be broken down in the following ways.

  1. Preparing thoroughly: Have all your materials, supporting documents, and suggested solutions organized and easily accessible. Be ready to explain what you want and you why want it.
  2. Being an active listener: Listening to the other party allows you to gather information and show respect. And listening more than you talk prevents you from revealing more than you want to share.
  3. Staying calm: Custody matters are emotional. However, negotiating when you are angry or resentful can result in outcomes that do not reflect your best interests or those of your child. Stay calm and take a break if things are getting heated.
  4. Establishing your goals and priorities: Negotiation involves compromise and flexibility. Thus, it can be critical to identify your top priorities ahead of time to keep you focused on getting the outcome you want. Do not get distracted by trivial disputes or concessions with little value.
  5. Anticipating the other person’s position and needs: When you prepare for what you believe the other party wants or needs, you can be well-positioned to respond accordingly.
  6. Finding common ground and being flexible: Both parents want what is best for the child. And while they may disagree on what that entails, finding some common ground provides a stable starting point. From there, be flexible when considering solutions and whether they may help you achieve your goals. Avoid taking an all-or-nothing approach.

These tips can help you feel confident in yourself and in the chances of reaching a positive outcome through negotiations.