Negotiation is when you try to resolve a problem or dispute with another person, informally, by trying to make an agreement. If your problem is a legal dispute, making an agreement through negotiation can mean you don't need to ask a court or tribunal to make a decision for you. You can negotiate by talking to the other people, or by writing a letter, or both.

Negotiation can take place at any time, for example, when a problem first happens, when you are thinking about starting a case, or even after a court case has been started. You can also negotiate an agreement about a whole problem or just part of a problem. There is no right or wrong way to negotiate. There is no right or wrong outcome. The outcome will depend on you and the other party.

This topic has information about: ​

    ​Why try n​egotiation

    Negotiation has many advantages but it may not always be appropriate.

    This section covers:

    • Benefits of negotiation
    • When negotiation may not be appropriate

    For more information, see Why try negotiation.

    Ways to negotiate

    There are different ways to negotiate.

    This section covers:

    • Meeting face to face
    • Talking on the phone
    • Writing a letter, email or text

    For more information, see Ways to negotiate.

    Preparing to negotiate

    Before you start negotiating, there are some steps you can take to prepare.

    This section covers:

    • Gathering documents and information
    • Understanding your legal rights
    • Thinking about what you want or need
    • Listening to what the other party wants or needs
    • Considering ways to resolve the problem
    • Making offers

    For more information, see Preparing to negotiate.

    Tips for negotiating

    When you are ready to negotiate you can contact the other party. There are a number of important tips you should consider.

    This section covers:

    • Understanding your emotions
    • Keeping records
    • Not giving up

    For more information, see Tips for negotiating.

    Coming to an agreement

    If you come to an agreement with the other party about how to resolve the problem, you should put it in writing. If a court case has already started, you will have to take some action to stop the court case.

    This section covers:

    • Putting an agreement in writing
    • Stopping a court case
    • What happens if you cannot come to an agreement

     If you have a family law case, although you and the other party may be able to negotiate any agreement you come to, the agreement may need to be formalised in a specific way. You should get legal advice about your family law matter.

    For more information, see Coming to an agreement.


    For answers to some commonly asked questions, see Frequently asked questions.