Tips on How to Settle Family Law Matters – Sometimes It’s Not About the Nail

Disagreements between family members, whether they be in an intact family, in a separating or divorcing family, or in estate matters are very different from other types of disagreements. In commercial disputes, a cost/benefit analysis or the “bottom line” can drive how parties to a dispute behave. That usually means that matters can be resolved on the basis of reason, or at least a considered analysis of the facts causing the dispute. However, in family disputes or disagreements, people’s feelings and emotions are as important as any fact or issue. Good family lawyers understand that and use it to help their clients get the end result that they want. 

When I mediate a disagreement between a separated couple, or when I represent a persona as their family law lawyer, the most “sensible solution” is often obvious. However, that is not always the solution that makes the most sense to the parties. Often, feeling appreciated, respected, or understood, is more important to one or both sides than anything else – money, the kids, a quick resolution or anything else that would be logically important. So, the first step to resolving any family dispute is to listen to the other side, or when mediating, to listen to both sides, to hear what is important. Often someone will take less money, or less of something else if they get what is important to them – even if what is important is driven by emotions rather than logical reasoning. When two people take the time to listen to each other, they may find that what each of them really wants is not necessarily incompatible with what the other person really wants. Family Law does not have to be a “zero-sum game.” It can be a win-win game. That is the whole basis of Collaborative Practice and Family Mediation. But, to get there, parties have to invest the time, energy and emotion in understanding the other person (which can be very difficult to do after a break-up). 

All of this may sound complicated, confusing, or impossible to achieve. However, the video below, called It’s Not About the Nail, illustrates the situation exceptionally well. If you are in a family dispute to disagreement, watch the video, and then think about what you have to do to meet the other side’s expectations. You may find you can meet those expectations while also achieving all of your own. Good family law lawyers know how to help their clients do this too – that is one of the biggest benefits of having a lawyer help you at mediation and the role of lawyers in Collaborative Practice.

John Schuman Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law book cover

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of parenting cases (parenting time and decision making), child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.

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