What makes divorce a difficult and protracted process? Dealing with emotions.
That may seem self-evident.
Even though the divorce agreement ends up being a financial agreement separating goods, custody and time, most of us find it hard to separate our feelings when it comes to anything to do with money. Then, add divorce to the picture and wham! The couple is off to the races bringing emotionally laden positions to everything.
Conflict and fights, bickering and resentment, lost love, arguments over money, are all fraught with emotion.
One of the top reasons to consider Collaborative Divorce instead of Mediation or a traditional court sanctioned process is that the Collaborative Divorce addresses the emotions felt by the parties. (Mediation also includes processing of emotions, except some couples need the additional support of the professional team and the representation of their own attorney provided in the Collaborative process.) If we do not deal with emotions as part of the process, no amount of logical persuasion will help the couple close the deal.
I’m sure that you know of couples who have spent tens of thousands of dollars and taken years to finally come to agreement with court involvement. Who wins in the end? Often, it's the lawyers. And there’s a win-lose scenario, rarely ever a win-win.
That is why in the Collaborative Divorce process, litigation or going to court is taken off the table. In Collaborative Divorce, we address emotions head on AND the couple also benefits emotionally throughout the process with tools they can take with them in the long term.
Here are some of the Emotional Benefits for considering
Collaborative Divorce for the adult couple and their children:
· Collaborative Divorce includes a team of experts: your own attorney, a neutral divorce financial specialist and a neutral Family Support Specialist (FSS). In some cases, we also include a Child Specialist to give a voice to the children. The team models transparency by openly communicating with each other as the case progresses.
· The FSS is a mental health professional who is sensitive to peoples’ emotions. She or he help the couple and their children vocalize and deal with their emotions to move the process forward, whether about money or otherwise.
· The FSS also helps the attorneys understand family dynamics and related issues, so that the couple and their children can benefit from the observations.
· The FSS makes sure that the team effectively works together to serve the couple in the best way possible.
· The FSS facilitates effective communication during negotiations between the couple, their children and the team. Specific obstacles can arise with differences of opinion. Feelings can often derail a process unless there’s an avenue to explore and resolve conflict. The FSS helps each family member identify, clarify and prioritize their concerns within the process.
Foster effective co-parenting skills
· A critical piece of any divorce agreement, when the couple has children, is setting forth a parenting plan. The FSS helps the couple come up with creative solutions, to address different parenting styles and emotional approaches. Such out of the box options are not often contemplated in a courtroom environment.
· The FSS can also act as an advisor regarding the transition from a nuclear to single parent family. It really helps to have a support specialist involved as so many feelings arise in shifting roles and responsibilities.
If you’ve found yourself saying any version of the following, consider Collaborative Divorce:
“Ah I hate you!”
“I’ve had enough and I can’t go on like this anymore.”
“Our marriage is over. I want a divorce.”
You’ll benefit by having the emotional support that Collaborative Divorce offers and leave with an optimal legal agreement that can work best for your family in the long term.
Written by Alyse Parise, LCSW. FSS, Family Support Specialist.