An Approach to Resolving Family Disputes

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  • December 14, 2016

In the negotiation of a separation agreement, spouses quickly learn that they have different perspectives, needs, and views on the issues before them. Those views may be expressed in intractable terms with hard deadlines, and seemingly impossible to realize. Some of these claims may be demonstrative of fear alone instead of rational careful consideration of legal entitlements to a sharing of property and future financial support. A new journey to an unknown future is the time to develop a positive, forward-looking, and concrete strategy to manage those needs.

The inherent conflicts of interest arising between spouses may not be apparent to those who are at the center of their own separation. A conflict of interest means that goals are not aligned at the first expression and may, upon closer examination, and a reframing of those interests, appear less divergent.

A resolution is possible. Here’s a reliable approach to resolving family differences upon separation.

  1. Clarify the end points to the simplest of terms by removing confusion, clearing up misconceptions, and reducing anxiety. Ask open-ended questions and explore possibilities with plain language. Consider what is urgent and requires immediate, effective, joint decisions, and which necessities such as accommodation, retraining or education, require prudent consideration and planning for the long term.
  1. Handle emotive responses with a tight focus. Negotiations begin when each spouse is ready and able to participate. Reaching out to a supportive network of friends, family or a professional counsellor demonstrates self-respect and a first step to healing. Ensure that the children have an impartial and qualified adult to privately work through their feelings and worries.
  1. Look for commonality when managing a divergence of interests. Take the time to ease out the essence of each interest with its benefits and difficulties honestly stated. For example, future independent financial stability may be at the heart of claims for permanent financial support, uninterrupted dividend compensation from the business, or a consultancy role in the family enterprise.
  1. Reframe the interests within the realm of reasonable expectations. What is a practical timeline and which expert opinions are required to assist in making sound decisions? What are the anticipated consequences of long-term decisions as the children mature? Which values are important to this family and can they be continued for the children’s sense of security and stability? Can spousal independence be fostered within the family business?
  1. Disagreement opens up new possibilities. De-escalate the conflict by allowing each spouse to express their frustration and acknowledge the heightened emotion others are feeling. Identify the source of the conflict. Tackle misperceptions and prejudgments. Persevere to find a mutually acceptable roadmap to mend the relationship.
  1. Recombining the essential elements of what truly matters. Considering possible options as positioned on a continuum towards resolution. Where can a little compromise play a role? Can the parameters be narrowed? Is there a place for a neutral facilitator to assist?

When relationships falter, there may not be a way to revive them to their joyous beginnings. That doesn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility that with the development of the sharing of common clear core values and working with a continuum of opportunities, the relationship’s disputes can be resolved.

For a confidential consultation with Lorisa Stein about the separation agreement you wish to have in place, please call her direct line 416 596-8081 or contact her through the contact page.

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