Our favorite days are adoption days!!! This afternoon, we had the honor of finalizing the adoption of this sweet 9 year old young lady. This has been a long road for this incredible family, but look at the happy ending!

Hancock Law Firm will be closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day. We hope that all Americans will take time to reflect on the important sacrifice made by those men and woman (and their families) who have died to secure the freedoms we enjoy today.

4 Apps for Busy Parents

Parents are busier than ever and always striving to keep their children active. Hancock Law Firm is here to help with a few suggestions to keep your family organized, learning, responsible, and still have a little fun!

Today, we’re sharing with you 4 Apps for busy parents! These Apps are available for Apple and Android users so try a few and be sure to leave us a note to let us know what you think! Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the list?

Cozi Family Organizer

This app simplifies family life by offering a family calendar that is interactive. You can keep track of everyone’s schedule with a brilliant color-coded calendar. The reminders tool allows you to set reminders for yourself and send reminders to other family members and even allows daily reminders and/or weekly agenda e-mails to family members. The App also offers you the option to create your shopping list and recipes and to share these with your family members. Never forget the shopping list when you’re at the grocery again! There’s a free version of the App (with ads) or an annual subscription available for a full, ad free experience. The paid subscription currently runs $29.99 per year.

DuoLingo

This is a learning App that makes learning a new language fun! The App offers French, Spanish, German, and over 27 other languages to choose from! This is a good back seat alternative to movies or YouTube for kids to play on the way to school in the morning or even for long road trips. There is something for every learning level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) so everyone can join the fun. This App is completely free and has voice options that will play back how the words should be pronounced.

Chore Monster

Chore monster makes chores fun by engaging and rewarding your kids for completing the tasks. This App is aimed toward children ages 4 and older. Children earn points that can be used towards things like ice cream, an hour playing their favorite game, and many more. This App is completely free and user friendly .

Winnie the App

This App puts parents in touch with their local community. Parents can search for local child care providers, preschools, and fun child friendly events and activities.  Parents also have the option to ask other parents for advice or input on parenting issues they’re facing. We love the local aspect of this App because we know first hand that sometimes parents really need some help to find their “village.”

Have you tried any of these Apps for your family? What did you think? Do you use any others that you think should be added to the list? Let us know!

Ten Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

by Autumn N. Hancock, Esq.

Negotiations are something that most everyone encounters in business and in everyday life. Whether it’s negotiating the terms of a business transaction, negotiating on behalf of a client at a mediation, or negotiating whether your child is allowed to stay up for 10 more minutes, honing your skills in this area is important.

As a mediator and an attorney, I’ve been involved in thousands of negotiations. This list is a very abbreviated version of what I have learned.

Here are 10 tips to help improve negotiation skills:

1. Be Prepared. You can never be too prepared. Even if you are a professional negotiator who has done this thousands of times, each set of facts is different. It’s important to prepare before each negotiation so that you can make well informed offers and decisions. In addition to knowing everything about the issue you’re negotiating, it’s helpful to learn as much as you can about the person on the other side. What are their needs? Why are they there? What are their risks. The more information you have, the stronger you will be in your negotiation.

2. Ask for What You Want. I once worked for a large litigation firm where a partner told me, “Women make less than men because they never ask for what they want.” While I disagree with his statement for many reasons, we all have to be careful not to fall into this trap. If you don’t ask for what you want in negotiations, it’s impossible to achieve your best outcome. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Start by letting people know what you or your client wants to achieve without anxiety and without inserting any feelings or accusations.

3. Aim High. If you expect more, you allow yourself to achieve more. I’ve worked with several successful negotiators who always open negotiations with an extreme stance. They use this strategy to gain a stronger starting position. Of course, this comes with the risk that the other side will walk away from the negotiations at the very outset. It doesn’t usually end this way though. People who ask for more than they expect to receive most often end up with a more satisfying result.

4. Stop Talking. This tip is the hardest for me personally but it’s so important. In order to be an effective negotiator, one must be a good listener. Successful negotiators gather information, they ask questions and then they stop talking. Ask open ended questions to the other side. It’s when you listen that you can learn the information you need to resolve the issues. Many negotiators follow the “70/30 rule” – talk 30 percent of the time and listen 70 percent of the time. Also, after you ask for what you want – STOP TALKING. Let the other side respond to your ask. If you keep going, chances are you will talk them out of giving you what you want. Embrace the awkward silences.

5. Don’t Focus on Your Reasons- Think About Theirs. If you spend your time focusing on the reasons that you need to resolve this situation, you may be working against yourself. In your mind, because you’re focused on your pressures, you will make the other side appear more powerful. While you need to be aware of them, don’t focus on the limitations of your position, focus on the strengths. If you think about the pressures being felt by the other side and the reasons that they need to make a deal, you will enhance your power and your negotiation position.

6. Satisfy Their Needs, Not Their Demands. Instead of responding to the demands being made by the other side, think about that they truly need to be satisfied. Look at the situation from their perspective and think about what concessions you can make that will add value for them but will have a very low cost for you or your client. Look to satisfy the basic needs of the other side. Focus on their needs, not their wants. This will allow a lot more negotiation room for your side to achieve its best outcome. Once you’ve figured out how to meet the basic needs of the other side, show them that their needs will be met.

7. Be Persistent. Negotiation requires an attitude that is persistent. Be resilient, especially under pressure. Often, the other side will try several strategies to move the negotiations in their favor, but a successful negotiator will be persistent and will stand firm. Eventually, this persistence will begin to break down the obstacles put up by the other side and will allow you to move forward towards a satisfactory outcome

8. Take Your Time. If you are in a hurry, you are more likely to make mistakes. If you have the most time, you will have the advantage. If the other side is in a rush to conclude the negotiations, and you are nonchalant about time, they will believe that you are not under any pressure. It will appear that you don’t need to make a deal. This is very likely to induce the other side to concede more and more in their position to entice you to agree.

9. Give Up Your Desire to Please. This means, don’t be willing to give away anything just to feel like you’re giving. Only concede when you’re getting something in return. When you give without receiving something in return, the other side will feel empowered to ask for more and more. Giving something up without asking for something in return is self-defeating. Make the other side earn the things you’re giving them by giving something up themselves. This is how you will work toward a beneficial resolution.

10. Be Ready to Walk Away. If you never consider walking away as an option, you will be more inclined to give in as a method to make a deal. Don’t be willing to take just any deal. Always negotiate with the knowledge that you can walk away if you can’t come to an agreement that is satisfactory. This will give you strength that the other side will feel

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below or send us a message!

7 Tips for Co-Parenting with Your Ex

As attorneys who’ve worked with divorcing and separating families for years, we think this is the hardest part for clients – CO-PARENTING. Now that you are separated or divorced, it is so important to your children that you can find some common ground with their other parent.

We could discuss this topic for days, but we know you don’t have time for that! Today, we are sharing 7 tips for co-parenting with your ex. We hope that these tips will aide you in peaceful collaboration with your ex.


Tip#1: Keep Communication Open

We know that it can be very hard to communicate with your ex- especially if the split was messy. Maybe you need to set some boundaries to make this work for you, but effective communication is absolutely required to co-parent well. You don’t need to talk to your ex about their dating life or help them pick out their outfit in the morning, but we suggest that you make sure to communicate with them about any issue concerning your child- scheduling, illness, school challenges or successes, field trips, or when your child has an argument with her best friend. This also prevents your child from taking advantage of you or your ex and manipulating your lack of communication. An open dialogue ensures that you are both on the same page about your children and that is what’s best for the kids. If you want to co-parent well, you need to communicate with your ex – whether you like it or not.


Tip#2: Let Your Kids Be Kids

Don’t let your negative feelings about your ex show when your children are around. Your emotions should not be what shapes a child’s perspective about their other parent. Don’t use your child as a messenger- talk to your co-parent directly. Don’t use your child as a private investigator to tell you what your ex is doing or who your ex is dating. Don’t use your kid to send child support back and forth. Remember, you must separate the father/mother role from the role of significant other, they may have been a terrible spouse but maybe they have the potential to become a great parent. If not, you will want your child to feel safe enough to talk to you about any issues that arise without worrying about how you will react. Kids are smart enough to figure out who their parents are without constantly hearing negative remarks from one side or the other.


Tip#3: Consistency

Try to work together with your ex to come up with a consistent routine for the children at both homes. This may include how much time the children spend on an ipad or in front of a television, what time they go to bed, how and when they do their homework, and what age they get their own phones, when they learn to drive, when they are old enough to date, what their curfew is, tattoos, piercings, and more. You may also find it helpful to discuss what role step-parents (or future step-parents) will play in the lives of the children. These discussions can really help establish expectations for each parent before conflict arises but can also be very healthy for children. Children need consistency to grow and to learn responsibility. It’s important for them to see and feel a similar routine while they spend time with each parent. This will help your children to feel safe and secure and to see that, though it looks different now, they still have a family.


Tip#4: Set Boundaries

In addition to setting consistent boundaries for your children, you may find it helpful to set healthy boundaries with your co-parent so that you’re not over involved in each other’s personal lives. The co-parenting relationship is about your children, not an excuse to stay connected with your ex. You do not need to divulge any more information than what you feel helps ensure that your children are doing well. Knowing every time your ex goes on a date or a vacation may trigger emotions that can throw your otherwise successful co-parenting relationship into a tailspin. Set reasonable boundaries.


Tip#5: Set Aside Your & Anger

If you’re reading this, chances are that it’s time to put what happened between you and your ex behind you and to come together for the sake of your children. If you can do this, you will be able to prevent lifelong division because of hate and unresolved anger. For many children, the transition of their nuclear family into two or more separate family units is very traumatic. During this time it is extremely important to put your children and their emotions first. To do this effectively, you will need to set your negative emotions aside.


Tip#6: Remember You’re a Team!

Co-parenting is a collaborative effort, and you are only as strong as your weakest player. So, stay strong and work together. Get apps and tools that will assist you in working together more peacefully and easily. If you need some suggestions on these, let us know. We are always happy to help!


Tip#7: Show Mutual Respect 
  

This is an opportunity for you to lead by example and to show your children that it is important to respect people even if they don’t agree with them or even get along with them. Showing respect for your co-parent will go a long way when something comes up that you disagree about. It is important that you don’t allow your children to disrespect their other parent in front of you and that you don’t show your children that you lack respect for their other parent. In addition to helping your co-parenting be more peaceful, this will help your children to build character and teach them important social skills.

We know first hand that parenting is no easy task. Add to that the unique dynamic that is co-parenting with an ex and you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you. But, this doesn’t have to be as difficult as some parents choose to make it. Keep it simple and when you want to give up just remember why you’re doing this!