What is a “kitchen table negotiation”? Is it a good way to get through your family law conflict? You may consider doing this because you want to keep costs down and you want to part ways in a friendly manner.
CAUTION: Consult with a professional before and while you do this! Why? You will be making decisions without knowing the legal consequences and without knowing all of the options available to you.
One version of a “kitchen table negotiation” is for the couple to have a direct negotiation about the terms of their separation/divorce. The simple idea is that the couple would sit at their “kitchen table”, talk things through and come to agreements. Then, take their agreement to an attorney to write-up an Order. Seeking a peaceful way to resolve conflict is recommended. But, this method has many pit-falls and dangers.
First, there may be a power in-balance. Your partner, while appearing to be friendly, may have a hidden agenda. Your partner may be “street-wise” about certain matters. Your partner may have secretly obtained and is using professional advice to gain an advantage. Your partner may be setting you up for a trap or pit-fall by pushing you to make agreements without professional advice. This is called the “Rope a dope” strategy.
Second, you have no way of knowing whether your case has legal complexities unknown to you. You may make an agreement that you later learn will have financial and/or legal consequences you did not anticipate. You realize you have made a mistake, but you have given your word. Now you feel obligated to swallow a bitter pill! You could feel resentful or even betrayed.
Second, you may increase your legal costs. After you make your informal agreement, if you check with an attorney to assist with preparing documents, you may learn that your agreement will be very harmful to your interests. Now, your attorney may have to devote a great deal of time at your expense to minimize or eliminate the harm.
Third, your decision-making may be clouded by powerful emotions, such as guilt, shame, grief, anger, resentments and others. Probably you will not be fully aware of the influence of your emotions on your decision-making. After making an agreement, you may have “buyer’s remorse”, but find it is too late to get out of your emotion influenced mistake.
Fourth, your decision will not be based on informed consent. You will have denied yourself the valuable information about the law and how it works and maybe financial information and mental health information about co-parenting.
You want to save costs and you think your case is simple, what can you do?
SHANNON FAMILY LAW can help you design a process to resolve your family law disputes in a non-adversarial way.