As family law attorneys, we are involved in some of life's biggest conflicts. Conflict is normal and expected in family law matters. After all, there is a dispute over a relationship of some kind or we wouldn't be here. When involved in a divorce, custody dispute or other matter, the parties are not expected to agree on everything. However, when conflict is managed in a respectful and positive way using dignity and respect, positive feelings about the process and outcome are possible for both parties. Even more surprising, the process can deepen the bond between people and families during this life change.
Everyone needs to feel heard, supported and understood, especially when facing strong emotions triggered by conflict. Fear and anger are normal and expected feelings when involved in family law disputes. However, getting comfortable with these emotions and managing them in a respectful way will contribute to resolving the matter in a way that strengthens the changing family relationships post-conflict.
All of our perceptions are shaped by our experiences and our values. These perceptions influence our approach to conflicts more than an objective view of the facts. Instead of racing into volatile, hurtful, and angry reactions, what if we tried to remain calm and use non-defensive, respectful reactions? When people are treated with value and respect they are more likely to give it.
Here are a few tips:
- Be Considerate – how we conduct ourselves during times of conflict can make a difference in the outcome.
- Be Flexible – try to adapt to shifting conditions when appropriate. When things do not happen as planned, adapt.
- Be Open – the other side may have an unconventional idea to solve the problem.
- Demonstrate Mutual Respect – you may not share the same position but be willing to show consideration and recognize the other person's value.
- Look for Common Ground – maybe there are things you can agree at the beginning to start the negotiation process off on a positive note.
- Communicate Respectfully – it's not what you say, but how you say it. If you choose your words, tone and demeanor carefully, your point will be clearer and easier to receive.
- Practice Patience and Share Points of View – take the time to get the full story and understand each other's perspective.
- Lead by Example – if you treat the proceedings and other party with dignity and respect, it will be easier for others to follow.
There is a lot to consider when entering into a family law matter. It is important to pick a process that fits your family situation and a professional that will initiate and continue the negotiation with an approach consistent with your goals. Because we focus solely on family law, we understand the dynamics, believe in a respectful approach to the process and can help guide you through the process.