By Caren Rifkin, LICSW, Collaborative Coach
When divorcing couples treat each other like adversaries in a lawsuit, the effects can be devastating to individuals and families. When a couple chooses to divorce using collaborative practice, the process is distinctly different. Working collaboratively with a professional team and coaching couples during the divorce settlement process has shown me over and over again, that despite high conflict situations, the benefits of working together in this way are significant. Most importantly, the outcomes that are achieved have a substantially positive impact on the children of divorcing couples. Reach out to Caren at: https://collaborativelawcoach.com/
Everyone has heard, or you may have yourself experienced, a divorce horror story. The unfortunate part in many of these stories is that much of the pain and suffering within them may be a result of the divorce process rather than the divorce itself. Sadly, the traditional litigated divorce process can add significant insult to injury when it comes to an already emotional and draining situation.
The Toxic Toll of Traditional Divorce
Going through a traditional divorce and the aftermath can take years to recover from, and it’s possible that your life will never feel the same again. It can often feel like everything you love is being destroyed, that nothing you cherish will remain, and there is no way forward or back.
Traditional divorce tends to pit couples against each other. Communication often completely breaks down, as everything funnels through the lawyers’ offices. Lawyers are motivated to be sure their client gets the best deal, sometimes at the expense of any sort of future relationship, and a negative impact on the children.
Traditional divorces also leave the final decisions and ultimate settlement agreement in the hands of an impartial judge. While that may seem like a good, unbiased way to resolve various conflicts, it’s often done in a “one size fits all” manner that may not take into account the personal needs of each half of the divorcing couple.
Finally, the time and financial expense of a traditional divorce can devastate the “survivors” of the former family. Lawyers’ fees, court fees and the slow process time can make some divorces drag out far longer than is necessary, and often at great emotional and financial cost to everyone involved.
A Healthier Alternative: Collaborative Divorce
In collaborative divorce, supportive communication and mutual respect create the foundation for the settlement agreement. A team of specially trained professionals – legal, financial, and emotional – help the divorcing couple understand what truly matters to each of them, and how they want their future lives to work.
During divorce, it’s normal for families to be in a heightened emotional state, which can get in the way of thinking clearly and making the best decisions for today and the future. With intentional preparation and planned meetings, the two parties, their two lawyers, a divorce coach and financial specialist work together to meet both spouses’ interests and needs, as well as the needs of their families and children.
Most importantly, in a collaborative divorce, the couple controls the final settlement agreement, the time table, and the expense. Most couples complete the process in far less time than a litigated divorce and at far less expense. With the help of the collaborative team, couples reach effective solutions that will work for their future lives without ever entering a courtroom.
By working through the collaborative divorce process, couples reach a mutually beneficial settlement built on respect, allowing them to move forward in a positive, healthy manner that is best for them and especially for their children. When considering divorce options, a collaborative divorce is often the best solution for such an emotionally sensitive process. Hard as it may be during such an emotional time, it’s important to “do your homework” and learn about divorce options to find what will work best for you and your family.