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Negotiating without your partner in the room: why clapping with two hands is more effective

By: Tanya Chamberlain, Lawyer

You and your partner have decided to end your relationship. You both agree you want to negotiate an agreement in non-adversarial process: neither of you wants to go to court.

You have heard many stories from friends of what litigation can do to a couple, their finances and their kids. You are both clear that is not for you. You both want an effective agreement that is fair and is future focused.

After meeting with a collaborative lawyer you are excited to share collaborative divorce process with your spouse. You share the literature and the website. You give your partner the names of some collaborative lawyers and encourage him to contact them.

Your partner agrees that going to court is not a good idea, but sitting in a room with lawyers, divorce coaches and his ex is really not something he feels comfortable with either - couldn't her lawyer just draft something and he will have his lawyer look it over?

And so begins the process of drafting an agreement between two people in the absence of one. What is lost during this solo drafting process is the brainstorming, idea generating, and identification of issues and interests. There is no discussion, no true negotiation.

When your partner takes the draft agreement prepared by your lawyer to his, decisions regarding assets, children and other important matters may be hard for him to understand or accept because he was not present for the drafting.

Without the context of negotiation where values and interests are discussed explicitly face to face, the agreement may seem inadequate or too generous. It is not a reflection of a genuine process of negotiation.

In negotiation, where both parties are not present, the agreements reached cannot be as creative, responsive and flexible as if they had been negotiated with both parties and their collaborative lawyers. We know that when couples draft their own agreements with the assistance of collaborative professionals, it is far more likely the agreements will be adhered to and they will act as a road map going forward to meet any changes that arise so that families will always control their own lives and never have to go to court.

Convinced that Collaborative Divorce is the best choice for you and your partner or do you have more questions about the process? Contact one of the professionals on the Collaborative Divorce Vancouver team today!

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