Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £35.99 £24.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Family law negotiation

Watch this video from The University of Law which provides an example of a negotiation in a family law case.
Good afternoon, my name is Derek, and I act for Tom, you must be Layla. » Yes, I’m a Layla, and I act for Lucy. Please take a sit. » So I understand that the parties went to court and the court in my clients favor issued a favorable contact order. But your client has decided to play judge, and jury, and counsel, everything, and not follow the order. » Yes, the parties did attend court and the court issued a contact order in the child’s best welfare. I’ve been instructed to put forward the reasons behind the sudden breakdown so that hopefully we can iron out these issues and get contact up and running again.
Well, like it or not, and whichever way you look at it, it is a generous one that is in my clients favor. So anyway, the terms are weekly FaceTime contact, fortnightly weekend, overnight contact, and any other contact agreed between the parties. This needs to be restarted immediately without delay with the overnight weekend contact starting this Friday. » Yes, the court order did direct contact to be on those terms but the events leading to the breakdown need to be discussed first. » I’m not sure why anything needs to be discussed. There is a court order here and it needs to be complied with all your client will end up in prison.
Prison is a draconian direction and often a last resort. But it would be best if we ironed out the points that are the issues here, so as to make sure that any future contact works well for both sides. » Right, well, I really don’t understand because the starting point is the court order and when to start this is straight away. » For my client and the child’s best welfare, I’m more than happy to look at a potential start date for contact to resume. But I think it will be helpful for both our clients look over their concerns before setting a start date. » Okay, if you put a line out and that’s fine.
Would you like to start with your clients concerns or I am more than happy to go through my clients concerns? » Yeah, I’ll start and given my client is unfairly and unjustifiably be being wronged by your client. My client states that he’s always been involved in the child’s life and been active where and when possible for that your client is trying to alienate him from the child. That she’s always rude and aggressive putting her needs over the child. He states that she calls him names in front of the child as a means to brainwash the child away from my client. » Okay, I’ve noted these points.
So just to clarify the issues in dispute, as I understand them from what you’ve said, and from my clients instructions are fourfold. So the four issues in dispute are the date to establish contact to restart, the progress and feelings on the current overnight stay, the progress and current feelings on face to face contact and holidays abroad. I would also like to add the threat of removal to this so that would be five points. Would you agree to these issues or would you like to add or jointly amend any of the points? » You have completely ignored the foolish and derogatory remarks and this really needs to be addressed.
Yes, of course, allot communication between our clients so that’s six issues in dispute. Would you be agreeable to going through these in order so that we can try and make this work for the family and try and get contacts up and running as soon as possible? » Well, we wouldn’t be here if your client didn’t try to alienate my client. Really, your client should be up before a judge explaining themselves. » Yes, and we can consider all these points together to help the family along without needing to go to court. I think it may be best if we start with this communication issue.
It was an appreciate that your client feels very upset about this so it may be good to get to the bottom of it. » Of course. » My understanding is that your client feels that my client is making negative comments about him in front of the child. My client has said that she did on one occasion out of exhaustion and without thinking, call your clients thick in front of the child, when your client confirmed that he had not done the homework with the child. But if she did follow this outburst with an apology and is willing to make an apology again, provided that your client does not say negative things about her in front of the child.
There is no such thing as exhaustion in life, she said that to alienate him in the mind of the child. She is offering an apology again and has confirmed this is the only negative comment that she made. From what I understand, this is the only word that the child has repeated as a comment that’s been made and nothing else has been said about him. Is there any other remark that I may need to be aware of to cross check against my client’s instructions? » No. And it seems yes, this is the only word. » Would your client be agreeable to not making any derogatory remarks about the mother? » Why should he have to he’s not done anything wrong.
My client has confirmed that the child has confirmed your client has said the following things such as being lazy, useless, and a troublemaker. I really believe it’ll protect the child if both parents make a promise not to be negative about each other in front of the child. It will be the most positive step forward in the parental relationship and it will protect the child and be in the child’s best welfare. » I suppose my client’s instructions were that if she promised not to be so helpful with the comments, then he would ensure he would say nothing negative either. » Okay, so that’s good progress both of them. This should also automatically reduce the tension and conflict during handover times.
I suppose it would. » Another significant concern is the father’s threat to remove the child. » Yes, this. » This obviously petrified my client which led her to stop contact immediately. » He wasn’t gonna remove her was he? » Well, no one can be certain and people can behave irrationally. Could your client promise not to remove the child without the mother’s consent as this will reassure the mother? » Not sure he would have to. » It would help the parties focus their minds on Holly and help get the contacts up and running. » Okay, well, my client didn’t struggle to immediately apologize to your client about his threat and to explain that he was frustrated.
And he didn’t mean it will not remove the child of course without speaking to the mother first. » Okay, this will really reassure my client. That’s really helpful and positive for Holly and, in fact, both parents. Moving forward to contact, my client said that the current court order is okay but your client hasn’t undertaken the weekly FaceTime contact. And wondered if she could rearrange this on a more flexible basis so
as not to have the child ready at 8:00 PM every Wednesday evening as it distresses the child waiting for your client. And he hasn’t managed to call through each week. » I’m not sure why my client has to give up this weekly FaceTime up to accommodate your client. » No, sorry, it just could I mentioned the child waits each week expecting this call and not receiving the call at that time is distressing her. So my client is suggesting a change to support the relationship between father and child by removing any opportunity for the child to be resentful towards their father. It’s really only to protect the relationship and the welfare.
Okay, now it’s fine to make this flexible and I expect your client to respond to any communication from my client about this. » Well, she’s never not responded she feels the relationship between the father and the child is an important one. And she will support it in whatever way she can. » Well, she best or we will have her before court again. » So the holidays away, my client feels it’s too soon to consider this given overnight contact has just started but it’s not a flat out, no. She feels that once the routine settles into place she will be more than happy to consider this.
Her basis for this position is that the child has indicated she does not like the overnight contact with your client. But my client feels that this is just because it’s a new routine and the child just needs to settle into this. Once settled, my client feels that the child will really enjoy the overnight contact and we’ll take to holidays away without the mother. Right now, my client feels that the focus should be on bidding the overnight contacting with your client before moving on to holidays abroad. » Now, I don’t see why she has to object. » Okay, so she’s not objecting. She’s just deferring the consideration for now. But we’ll be happy to discuss this in the near future.
She is fearful that any forceful move will lead to a complete breakdown to the current overnight contact with your client. So it’s not to jeopardize the current overnight stay but to create a stronger bond. » Okay, well, if we have to then we have to. » Okay. So to start contact, will your client be happy to start next weekend? As the child has a friend’s birthday party she would like to attend this Saturday. » Do we have to put other children’s before my client’s needs? Well, this is a birthday party for Holly’s best friend who she’s known since she started school.
I could only imagine how resentful the child would be towards her father if it was because of him that she was forced to miss her best friend’s birthday party. » Fine, fine and are we done yet? » Yes, almost. So just to clarify the agreements, we have overnight contact resumed from next week. Weekly contacts to be arranged by the parents over FaceTime. The parents to focus on building overnight contact to consider holidays away once the child is comfortable. Both parents promise not to denigrate each other in front of the child. And father promises not to remove Holly without the mother’s permission. » And be sure to tell your client, my client has compromised a lot.

This video provides an example of a negotiation scenario in family law. In this circumstance, both lawyers have to negotiate on behalf of their client.

Consider each lawyer’s style – are they cooperative, collaborative or competitive? Or does their style change or vary throughout the negotiation?

The key skill in this scenario is negotiation, which comprises of persuasion, communication and the ability to adapt and compromise.

This article is from the free online

How to Become a Lawyer

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now