Family Negotiation Role-Play:

Ellsworth v. Ellsworth

Frank Sander and William Ury
Two-party, multi-issue negotiation between lawyers for a divorcing couple over the terms of the divorce, including alimony, child support, and income tax issues

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NEW VERSION!

SCENARIO:

Bill and Ellen Ellsworth are in the midst of a heated divorce. Mrs. Ellsworth instituted a divorce on the grounds of physical and mental cruelty. Her attorney will meet with Mr. Ellsworth’s attorney to try to settle out-of-court. The issues with which both sides are primarily concerned are those of alimony, child support, medical insurance, ownership of family residence, custody of the children and visitation rights, division of securities and savings, and legal costs. Both parties want a divorce.

 

MECHANICS:

This case can be set up as a one-on-one or a two-on-two team negotiation. It is sufficiently complex to make teams worthwhile. Usually used toward the end of a negotiation training course, this case requires extensive preparation and involves a moderate amount of income tax law. It is recommended that at least one participant be familiar with personal income tax law. A minimum of 3 hours negotiation time is needed. Three days to run the full exercise is common. Any or all issues can be set for drafting. Agreements on other issues can be outlined.

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • The complexities of this simulation provide a good testing ground for the overall negotiating sophistication of participants.
  • Good preparation for the case requires extensive analysis when calculating BATNA’s, deciding what client information must be kept confidential, and anticipating the other party’s demands.
  • There is considerable opportunity to exploit joint gains by dovetailing compatible interests and using tax law creatively.
  • A variety of ethical issues are raised concerning the disclosure of information to the other side and the balancing of a client’s long-term and short-term interests (e.g., revenge).

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • Psychological Evaluation

 

Supplemental Information for Ellen Ellsworth and Bill Ellsworth:

  • Background Information Memo
  • Client Feedback Forms

 

Supplemental Information for Attorney Roles:

  • Background Information Memo
  • Tax Memo
  • Legal Memo
  • Section 208
  • Child Support Guidelines
  • Attorney Report Form

 

Role Specific:

  • Ellen Ellsworth
  • Bill Ellsworth
  • Wifes’ Counsel (Ellen Forthcoming Negotiation Memo)
  • Husband’s Counsel (Bill Forthcoming Negotiation Memo)

 

Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the Above

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Agenda control; Attorney/Client relations; BATNA; Commitments; Competition v. Cooperation; Compliance; Confidentiality; Decision analysis; Drafting; Emotions; Ethics; Fairness; Information exchange; Interests analysis; Interests, dovetailing; Joint gains; Litigation analysis; Meaning of “success”; Misrepresentation; Objective criteria; Options, generating; Personality; Systems of negotiation

 

Ellsworth v. Ellsworth Attributes

Time Required:
3-5 hours
Number of participants:
4
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
Lawyer
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
Yes
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You are then permitted to view the document on your computer and either print the number of copies you purchased, or forward the electronic file as many times as the number of copies you purchased. You will only receive a link to one electronic file per document. So, if you order 25 soft copies, you may either forward copies of the link to 25 people via e-mail, or print (and/or photocopy) 25 hard copies of the document.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

The purchase price and handling fee are the same for both soft and hard copies. Soft copies do not entail a shipping fee.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, then you should order a single Teacher’s Package for that role simulation. A PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package is also available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. There is no need to order participant materials as well as a Teacher’s Package, as all Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters. Please note that the materials in Teacher’s Packages are for the instructor’s review and reference only, and may not be duplicated for use with participants.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.