Raise your hand if you know someone who has been divorced. Maybe it’s your friends. Maybe it’s your parents. Maybe it’s you. Keep your hand raised if you know someone who has been through a Collaborative Divorce….. That’s not nearly as many hands in the air as there should be. Why? Because anyone considering divorce needs to know that a Collaborative Divorce can protect all of the people and relationships we care about. Divorce does not have to burn your world to the ground.
Play out this scenario (it’s one many of us have lived): You get married; you’re young. You become close to your spouse’s parents, maybe even coming to call them mom and dad after a few years. You have a brother-in-law or a sister-in-law that you become best friends with. Then you have children, and your siblings and their spouses have children. You are surrounded by nieces and nephews. Your children have a circle of loving aunts and uncles and cousins to play with. Holidays are huge family events filled with fun and laughter. Sometimes a giant family vacation is organized over the summer. Twenty or thirty years pass. Your children and their cousins are in their teens or maybe even already off at college. Your parents and your spouse’s parents are in their golden years. And then it happens – the divorce. Maybe you wanted it; maybe it was your spouse. But I can guarantee you that one of you is going to be hurt to the core and both of you will be deeply saddened.
There are books and papers written about how divorce is worse than the death of a loved one. With death, there is finality; a closed loop in the inevitable cycle of life. We all come together to mourn the person we lost. But with divorce, if not handled in the right way, there is a death of many. If we let temporary anger or resentment win, we lose “mom and dad.” We lose brothers and sisters (in-laws, but weren’t they really more than that?), nieces, nephews. We lose our big family gatherings and our extended family vacations. We lose all of those relationships that make us most human. It’s no wonder that divorce can be more difficult than a death to process through.
Divorce does not have to be a nuclear bomb that destroys everything and everyone around you. Most people only know one way to divorce – going through the court system. Our court system was designed to right wrongs: punish criminals, fix broken business contracts, compensate the physically injured. It was not designed with divorce in mind, and divorce just does not fit within that system. It forces people to got to war with one another. It forces mom and dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews to take sides. That’s why no one wins in a courtroom divorce – both of you lose half the people in your world that you love.
Enter Collaborative Divorce. It is a process designed for…. divorce. The process works to separate the emotional pain from the business decisions of divorce – how to divide the money, how to share time with the children, how to pay for the children’s needs. A financial professional and parenting coach who act as joint settlement advisors work with the spouses and their attorneys to find creative ways to reach agreement. Staying away from the cookie cutter results of the courtroom allow divorcing couples to find a solution that works best for their family – as opposed to someone else’s family. It allows them to find peace with one another. And their own birth families don’t have to take sides.
Clients who divorce using the Collaborative Divorce process are at far greater peace with their ex-spouses than clients who stayed in the courtroom for their divorce. They talk, they co-parent, and they don’t lose an entire family to a divorce death.