3.0 Introduction

You might feel like you are ready to sit down and start negotiating an agreement with your former spouse. But most likely, you’re not quite there yet.  Whatever the reason for your separation, it’s usually not easy to work out all the things you need to in order to separate. In fact, according to many studies, separating is one of the most stressful experiences in life.

In the last chapter, you learned about the key issues of separation: parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support and property division. Working out agreements about each of these is going to take some work. And that’s the point of this chapter. It will help you prepare yourself to be in a strong position to work things out with your former spouse.

For many separating spouses communication is a huge road block in the way of resolving issues.  There may be lingering anger, hurt, sadness or resentment that makes it difficult to talk. It might not be easy to see or talk with your former spouse, let alone negotiate with him or her.

Your emotions may get the better of you – especially when you’re in a high conflict situation. Be prepared for it to get emotional.  Separation is hard. This chapter will help you get past these difficulties.   

This chapter is dedicated to helping you develop the skills that will get you through negotiating a settlement agreement you want. It will provide guidance on how to communicate, negotiate and deal with emotional situations. You’ll learn specific strategies and tips from professionals on how to reach the best outcome.

In this section you’ll learn about

* Preparing yourself *

  • Managing Emotions
  • Communicating Constructively
  • Negotiating a Positive Outcome


Where Are You?

In Chapter 2 you learned about the key issues and considered some of the decisions you will need to make.  You also learned about the different options – like coming to an agreement, or going court. Part 1 of this course is focused on helping you come to an agreement. If this isn’t possible, Part 2 provides guidance on moving through court processes.

Coming to an agreement by negotiating with your former spouse can save you time, money, and stress that often comes with going to court.  Too often, separating couples go to court without working hard at trying to negotiate an agreement.  Some of these couples find themselves stuck in a law case that drags on for years, costs them a small fortune and in the end, they have no control over the outcome. If they had moved passed their conflict and come to an agreement, chances are that it would have worked out better for both of them.

So, where are you? Are you emotionally ready to begin to work things out? Can you have a tough talk with your former spouse without becoming angry? Are you ready to engage in some important negotiations over some of the key issues? Can you be objective enough to compromise and find creative solutions?

If you said “no” or you weren’t sure about your answer to some of those questions, don’t worry. This chapter will help. You are going to have the chance to learn some skills that you can use to be better prepared to communicate and reach a positive settlement. We can’t guarantee that you will be successful in reaching an agreement, but we can guarantee that you will be more prepared to accomplish that goal.


Helping Yourself

Although you and your former spouse are separating, there continue to be many decisions that you have to discuss and make together. These could be decisions about the family – where will the children live, who will have parenting time when, what school will the children attend, etc. The decisions may also be financial decisions. Perhaps you own property together. Perhaps one of you needs spousal support. The end of your relationship does not mean that it is the end of your need to communicate with each other.

How do you communicate with each other now, as former spouses? The first step in the stage of transition is to rethink your roles. You need to separate your past role as a spouse from your new role as a former partner or a co-parent. This takes effort, but is very worthwhile. Being able to manage your emotions will help you in this goal.