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Focusing on Interest and Needs (Rather Than Judging and Blaming) in a Child Custody Negotiation

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on November 29, 2013

In Roger Fisher and William Ury’s “Getting to YES,” the authors urge participants in negotiations to focus on needs/interest rather than judging and blaming the people involved.

All humans being have common basic needs, such as:

•    The need for recognition;
•    The need for love;
•    The need for support;
•    Etc.

The strategies people use to meet these needs are different — they are not universal.

Your spouse may need companionship and quality time with loved ones. But she doesn’t “need” 40 hours a week of custody — that’s a possible strategy she might want to use to meet core needs, but it’s not the only path.

One goal of Getting to YES is identify the needs motivating positions, so you and your team can come up with better compromises and alternatives. The better you understand your own feelings and needs – as well as those of your children – the more flexible you’ll be during the negotiation, and the easier it will be to improvise.

Think of it this way. As you know, young kids love to eat sugar and watch TV. You may not approve of those strategies. But you can appreciate their core needs for things like pleasure, fun, play, nutrition, etc.

If you identify and work with those needs, you can come up with cool and creative solutions. For instance, if your child is “starving” for a sugary snack, meet the need for nutrition with a healthy, fun snack, like peanut butter and celery. If child wants to watch TV, do an art project or play outside.

Apply the same principles to negotiations in child custody, and you’ll get better results.

For help with your divorce case, connect with the Dinnebier & Demmerle legal team today for a free, confidential consultation.

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