Top Five Tips to Successful Negotiation

Jessica / July 24, 2023

by: Jian Kang, Associate

An effective and fair settlement is always the best way to resolve a family law case. Granted, some divorce cases are particularly complex and emotionally charged, but it does not mean that a settlement is impossible. But how to maximize your chances of obtaining a great result through negotiation? In this blog, our dedicated legal team share with you five tips to successful negotiation, all of which have proved helpful in settling divorce cases in Toronto and Ontario in general.

Tip #1: Know your needs and wants

This may sound trivial, but an experienced family law lawyer knows that clients can often be overwhelmed and disoriented in a divorce case, and as a result might not know what they truly want or need. This factor alone can often make or break a case.

Many of the best divorce lawyers use their experience to guide the client to gain clarity. They often spend lots of time with clients to determine what is important to them, what they are prepared to give up, and what they cannot live without. This is often done at the outset of the case, and again before the actual negotiation, to ensure that any changes in the clients’ position and the underlying reasons behind these changes are appreciated.

Tip #2: Know the strengths and weaknesses of your case

Each divorce case has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to your lawyer to make sure you are well-informed before going into the negotiation room. During negotiation, you must constantly assess the chances of winning versus losing on each issue, and this requires a solid understanding of the weaknesses and the strengths of your case.

Tip #3: Time your negotiation well

The timing of the negotiation is also fundamental to its success. While you can negotiate at any point from even before your separation (which often lead to the signing of separation agreements) all the way to the trial, there are some windows in between where your chances of getting a favourable settlement are much higher.

But how do you identify these windows? This differs from case to case.

In a case where both parties are transparent and the issues are straightforward, you should negotiate as early as possible. But in some cases where family assets are significant and controlled by one spouse, it will complicate the situation drastically if that spouse is not financially transparent or takes unreasonable positions — which has unfortunately become increasingly common in Toronto (and Ontario). In such cases, an experienced divorce lawyer often takes steps to secure your assets, level the playing field and obtain document disclosures – through court orders if necessary – before pushing for negotiation.

Our team of family law lawyers routinely handle negotiation in the greater Toronto area. We will analyse your case objectively, while staying sensitive to your subjective wants and needs.

Tip #4: Good representation

Even though settling a case is more about “negotiating” and less about “arguing” in comparison to a trial, great representation still goes a long way in maximizing your chances of settling the case. An experienced lawyer is keenly aware of the dynamics in the negotiation and uses it to your advantage. He/she may downplay or even concede a very weak point and then countertrade efforts on aggressively arguing your stronger points. This can be decisive to successful settlements.

Tip #5: Use it for further negotiation or litigation

Some negotiation inevitably does not work out, and that’s okay – there will be further rounds of negotiation, and then there is litigation. The key here is to utilize the negotiation to gain information and to prepare for future steps.

So, always make sure to work with your lawyer to get the most value out of each round of negotiation. A great family lawyer is able to extract valuable information from negotiation even if it doesn’t settle right away – such as the other sides’ positions, the strengths and weaknesses of their case and – importantly – the underlying concerns or needs that they have, which are often elusive in court materials.  

If you have questions about your family law matter, call us at 416-324-5522, or book an initial consultation here. Our experienced team of family law lawyers will be happy to help you.