Negotiating with your ex-partner is never going to be the most pleasant experience. There is a lot of history there, full of simmering resentment and unsaid feelings. However, you have a child together so you are going to have to find a way of making decisions together.
Follow this 10 point checklist to try to make the conversation run smoothly:
1. Stay Calm
Yes, it’s easier said than done. Getting angry is not going to get you anywhere though, and she will hold it against it in the future. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and leave the room if you have to, but never let your anger get the better of you.
Really listening to what your ex has to say and not just what you think she is saying or what you want to hear, can make a huge difference. Concentrate on her opinion and take it in so that you can respond in a well thought out way.
3. Don’t Bring up Old Grudges
There will be all sorts of old arguments that you may be tempted to bring up but really, what’s it going to achieve? Stick to sorting out the matter in hand and don’t let past events colour your judgement.
4. Never Make Accusations
The minute you start making accusations she is going to get defensive and probably make some accusations of her own. This just turns it into a fight of ‘who’s the best parent’ when you should be concentrating on your child instead.
5. Leave Other People Out
Whether it is their partner, your ex-mother-in-law or her boozy friend, remember, it’s not about them, it’s about you, her and your child. Other people are not important and bringing them into the matter will only complicate it further.
6. Tame Your Language
Turning the conversation into a slanging match may make you feel better but it won’t help you communicate with each other or set a good example for the child that you are trying to raise.
7. Know What You Want
Instead of just wanting to win, think about exactly what it is you want to achieve. By having a clear goal, you can keep the negotiation on track and not be tempted to raise other issues.
8. Make a Case
Once you know what you want, start thinking up a strategic argument. Work out your reasons for and against, what she may say, and how you are going to put across your case clearly and convincingly.
Unfortunately, we can’t always have things the way we want and you are going to have to learn to compromise. By both giving a little, you can try to reach an agreement that you are both happy with.
10. Put Your Child First
Of course, you should already know this but it is easy to lose sight of when you are stuck in an argument with your ex. Your ultimate goal is not to do what is best for you, or her but what is best for your child.
By following these 10 points you should be able to work out a way to negotiate with your ex. It’s not always going to go the way you want it but continued work and commitment will make the process easier for all of you.
Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.
Feel we are all in the same boat...its their way or no way! If the "parent with care" chooses not to consider our feelings....situation...and they are not happy to compromise and understand....we have to give in... or give up! That's our only choice.
One day our children will ask questions... why we made the choice we did.....why we gave up the fight...or why we carried on through gritted teeth and do our best to smile....they may be too young to understand....but they won't be young forever and they will ask questions one day.
frustrated father of - 21-Jan-16 @ 8:08 AM
a husband is for lif - Your Question:
Hi guys,I am new to all of this and feel compelled to write on this page after hearing everyone's little bits about there situations.First of all never give up.no matter how hard they want to make it for us,at the end of the day one smile from your kid once you get them back will make it all worth it.I have probably had to deal with all of the above situations and more (and still don't have access to my kids but the most important thing that keeps me going is we have helped make these kids and we all are worth more than what our ex's think our kids deserve a loving father and none of the mind games.Sorry if this doesn't make sense.I just felt compelled to write it.Any way never give up we will WIN in the end and by that I don't mean win against our ex I mean win by helping our kids grow up having a happy and two parent filled life.Peace out.
Many thanks for your comments. You say you don't have access to your children, but don't give your reasons why. You may find the article When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here useful. The courts are keen for fathers to see their children, so do keep fighting for the right.
SeparatedDads - 2-Sep-15 @ 10:18 AM
I am new to all of this and feel compelled to write on this page after hearing everyone's little bits about there situations.
First of all never give up.no matter how hard they want to make it for us,at the end of the day one smile from your kid once you get them back will make it all worth it.
I have probably had to deal with all of the above situations and more (and still don't have access to my kids but the most important thing that keeps me going is we have helped make these kids and we all are worth more than what our ex's think our kids deserve a loving father and none of the mind games.
Sorry if this doesn't make sense.
I just felt compelled to write it.
Any way never give up we will WIN in the end and by that I don't mean win against our ex I mean win by helping our kids grow up having a happy and two parent filled life.
a husband is for lif - 1-Sep-15 @ 2:06 PM
caringMajor - Your Question:
I decided that it would be too disturbing for my children to challenge my Ex's "rights" to custody.She being an alcoholic, which I had helped to hide, foolishly. Also Judge said that kids were too young to testify in court against their mum. So I was/am in a no win situation.Now she does not allow me to see or visit the children and called the police when I tried to deliver a birthday card, in person to my daughter, on her birthday.Life sucks, then you die.My only hope is that they might try to contact me when they are a bit older?
Please see our partner article: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here. If your ex is not letting you see your children, then surely you have nothing to lose. I'm sure your children are more disturbed by not seeing you, than if you are fighting for the rights to see them, especially if your ex is an alcoholic and your children are living in this environment. I hope you might try and re-assess your decision and find the confidence to see it through. Best of luck with whatever you decide.
SeparatedDads - 25-Aug-15 @ 2:24 PM
I decided that it would be too disturbing for my children to challenge my Ex's "rights" to custody.
She being an alcoholic,which I had helped to hide, foolishly.
Also Judge said that kids were too young to testify in court against their mum. So Iwas/am in a no win situation.
Now she does not allow me to see or visit the children and called the police when I tried to deliver a birthday card, in person to my daughter, on her birthday.
Life sucks, then you die.
My only hope is that they might try to contact me when they are a bit older?
caringMajor - 24-Aug-15 @ 9:42 PM
My partner has 3 children with his ex in the past year he's had them over night 3 times and only seen them a handful of times. everytime he goes to see them she try's it on with him every single time she constantly shouting at him calling him nasty names and has hit him a few times she uses the kids against him stuff like she'll ask them where they want daddy to live and stuff like that. We are really stuck on what to do next some one help!!
Abbys - 29-Jul-15 @ 4:12 PM
My ex partner is not allowing me to take my son on holidays. Last year, while she was in a one year maternity leave, she didn't let me have my son on my own with him. She claimed that the first year is very important for the mother-child bond, which I don't dispute but don't totally agree as there are different views on this matter. I had to go on holidays at the same time as her and arrange for her to stay at my parents with my son in order for my parents to spend some time with their son (me) and their grandson. But she did say that the following year (present year), I could have my son oon holidays on my own. And now she changed her mind. I am a full time university student with a part time job. Before she went back to work I said that I would help her with nursery costs but due to schedule incompatibility between uni, work and nursery times (because I agreed to get our son from nursery when she would finish later at work and have him for one day of the weekend as she only has one weekend off a month and the rest has to work either Sat or Sun) I ended up having my contract terminated. I then proceeded to try to find a job that could accommodate all these aspects. Easier said than done. It took me six months to find another job and it had to be a night job so I could still help her out and still go to uni. I now have a job, started last May.Now, because I haven't helped her financially for this past six months, because I didn't do what I said I would, she says I can't take my son on holidays. Besides the money issue, she says that it's a waste of money as our son is going to miss nursery as she's the one who has been paying for it.I'm working 5 nights a week and still picking our son up from nursery and having him for one day each weekend while she goes to work. I do this because I think that is important for me and for my son that I'm part of his weekly routine and to help my ex out as I do realise that it is hard work to be a single parent. As I got my first paycheck, I gave her money straight away, more than is stipulated by law according to my wage, and will continue to do so as long as I'm working.My question is what can I do to establish some ground rules or do I have to be at the mercy of any whims/opinion change she might go through? I'm trying to keep things smooth with her and try to follow all that she says regarding our son. I read a lot about compromise on this and other sites that deal with this issue but I don't know what else can I do.Help!Regards, Lula
lula - 20-Jul-14 @ 10:18 AM
I have a problem my fiance and his ex gilfriend have a daugther together they were never maried.The problem we have if we want the child for the school holidays she expects us to fetch the child and take her back.Every month she receives the maintanance money paid to her husbands account??? I want to know is it only the farthers ressposibility to make plan to see his child and to phone the child ?? If we do not phone we never hear from her only when she wants money. WHAT CAN WE DO PLEASE HELP???
babyface - 13-Dec-12 @ 1:52 PM
What if she is angry at me for leaving the family and feels that she shouldnt have to change her lifestyle to suit me and my choices ie christmas morning. I see her point but i want that in my life too.
clay - 1-Dec-12 @ 12:48 PM
What happens when she's not willing to compromise? We get walked all over and have to take it all. It's her way or no way. My ex partner had agreed with me that I would have my son Christmas morning once every two years. Things were great between us before, and I felt I had no reason to get that in writing. Big Mistake! Now life's changed for her, she's got two children, and with another guy, and supposedly they're a family. Now she has gone back on what she said and I am not allowed him any Christmas morning ever. After a long, drawn out battle I finally conceded and let her have Christmas morning, but I wanted a compromise. I asked that she pickhim up Christmas eve, instead of me driving back and forth, back and forth, picking him up and dropping him off. I'd say that's more than fair to miss my son's Christmas morning. She said "well, if that's the case, you won't have him Christmas at all, who are you to make the calls?" What do I do with that? I followed all your steps, I was calm, didn't bring up pay resentments, all of it, but what do you do when she turns on you like that, won't even compromise a little?