The Clearinghouse at PON offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. Trask Divorce is a two-party, multi-issue negotiation between lawyers representing a divorcing couple regarding alimony and financial support for a special-needs child. This simulation involves ethical issues.
Scenario: Kate and Bill Trask are in the midst of divorce proceedings. Kate supported Bill through architectural school, but he has supported her for the last several years as she has stayed at home with the children, one of whom has special needs. At issue are the family home, a difference of opinion in how to care for their special needs child, alimony, and child support. The pair’s attorneys have agreed to meet to discuss an out of court settlement.
Mechanics: Ideally this case is run as a one-on-one negotiation. However, making one or both sides a two person team can be interesting. Give participants approximately a quarter of an hour to prepare after distributing the instructions. The remainder of the hour should be spent negotiating. At least that amount of time should be spent on de-briefing.
Subjects: divorce, family, disclosure, support.
This is a good case for exploring alternate claims concerning financial support.
One of the parties in this negotiation has hidden several relevant facts, that would doubtless come out at trial. How this is handled in the negotiation provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the ethics of disclosure in a pre-trial settlement.
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