1. Don't text in anger or if you have been drinking. That never works out well. You may be mad at your spouse, and he or she may have done you seriously wrong, but a mean, ugly, angry text will cause damage to a relationship that you need to maintain for at least a little while. You may feel smart or clever when you type it, but it will lead to a bad reaction from someone you need to work with to settle your case.
2. Don't focus on blame or fault. Especially in Collaborative cases, fault is normally not an issue. We look forward, not back. Arguing fault is a diversion that hinders getting to an agreement.
3. Don't leave messages when you are angry or have been drinking. See #1 above. Voice mails will cause major problems. You need to reach an agreement so you can meet your own needs and interests.
4. Don't negotiate with your spouse between joint meetings. Sometimes the Collaborative process works very well and people start to think that they can save money by working out some details on their own. Occasionally, that works, but more often, the parties get into arguments. The conflict occurs because they are talking without the attorneys and mental health professional around to help manage the discussions. Good behavior at joint meetings comes about because of the mutually agreed rules and because of the assistance provided by the professionals. Without the structure and presence, the parties usually quickly slide back into bad behaviors.
5. Focus on the big high-level goals, not small, irritating issues. Any time you get started on really small details, it becomes much easier to get into arguments. The way out is to think about the bigger issues and how to achieve the higher goals. It really works!
Keep these tips in mind and you will have a better and more successful Collaborative experience!