There are several advantages to a collaborative divorce when compared to a litigated divorce, including, but not limited to:
- it is less expensive
- less adversarial and contentious
- more private and confidential.
Given all these and other advantages of collaborative divorce, it is surprising to observe the reluctance that some spouses may express regarding participating in the collaborative process. It may be a result of advice from family members, coworkers, friends, and/or acquaintances who are not familiar with divorces that are collaborative. It also may be the result of your spouse not feeling very kindly towards you and having a tendency to reject any advice you may give. When confronted with this resistance, many spouses are at a loss as to how to convince their reluctant significant other to engage in the collaborative approach to divorce. The following are some suggestions that my office has passed on to our clients in the past:
- Talk to your spouse to determine if there’s a shared commitment to a win‑win situation and to resolve your divorce with the least amount of conflict and expense necessary. Let your spouse know that you are determined to behave in a respectful, ethical manner and want to ensure that both of you engage in the process that permits you to do so. Reaffirm to your significant other that you both value a negotiated solution that meets both your needs now and in the future instead of putting those decisions in the hands of an uninterested judge. Remember that both of you believe that you should commit your energy towards creative problem solving rather than blaming each other during the heat of combat in a highly contested or contentious divorce.
- Educate them. We don’t feel comfortable or safe with what we don’t know. Find ways to educate your spouse about the collaborative process . Try to do so by emphasizing the issues that are most important to him or her. For example:
- Make it about the kids. Make sure your spouse knows that in a divorce that is collaborative, you both will be in complete control of decisions regarding the parenting of your children and not risk having uncertain, unworkable “solutions” imposed upon you by a judge. Reaffirm that you want to be involved in a process that will create a tailor-made parenting plan that specifically meets the needs of your children as well as the needs of both parents.
- Make it about the money. A divorce that is collaborative is, by far, less expensive and less time consuming than a litigation divorce. As a result, you both will spend significantly less money than by litigating your divorce.
- Make it about the time. Remind your spouse the length of a divorce that is collaborative is measured in weeks, not months or years. The average couple can complete the collaborative process in four to six meetings.
- Make it about creativity and dialogue–not debate. Reinforce with your spouse that collaborative approach to divorce promotes healthy discussion that will allow both of you to explore alternative mutually acceptable outcomes. In many instances, the discretion of judges has boundaries placed upon them by statute and case law. The collaborative process does not.
- Prepare an information packet. To reinforce your discussions with your spouse, prepare a packet of articles, blogs, and other documents regarding the benefits and advantages of divorce that is collaborative. You can locate this information easily on the Internet. If you contacted a divorce attorney that specializes in the collaborative approach, the lawyer may have materials that you can use.
- Enlist the assistance of your marriage counselor or the children’s therapist. During your disintegrating relationship, both you and/or your spouse may have been involved in therapy or marriage therapy. If you have children, one or more of your children may also be in therapy. If a therapist has been involved with your family, then suggest that your spouse speak to this professional. The mental health professional may be able to provide additional reinforcement as to the advantages of participating in a collaborative approach to divorce for your family.
- Provide a list of websites. You should provide your spouse with a list of websites which discuss and/or offer services for divorces that are collaborative. These websites contain a wealth of information about divorces that are collaborative and will reinforce what your spouse has heard from you and the mental health professionals. Some websites for your reference:
- Request that your spouse call and consult with a collaborative divorce attorney. You may be able to provide to your spouse websites in your area of attorneys trained and experienced in the collaborative process of divorce and other related professionals. Request that your spouse reach out and at least schedule a consultation with one of these legal professionals to discuss how a collaborative approach to divorce may be a match for your circumstances. If you have selected a collaborative attorney to represent you, then he or she may be willing to send an introductory letter and information packet to your spouse. The information from your own attorney should include a list of legal professionals who are experienced and trained in the area of divorces that are collaborative; and
- Ask a close family member, friend or mentor to discuss the positive benefits of a collaborative divorce. Trusted individuals may be able to offer significant encouragement for your spouse to try this very rewarding alternative for a litigated divorce. Even if your spouse’s friends or family members may not be educated in the collaborative process of divorce, you may be able to provide them enough information so that they can point out (based on their own experience or the experience of their own friends or other family members) that a divorce that is collaborative certainly appears to have significant advantages over that of a litigated divorce.
You never know which combination of the above actions may be sufficient to convince a reluctant spouse to become an enthusiastic participant in a divorce that is collaborative. Your future, your children’s future, and your chances of a continuing civil relationship with your spouse are the rewards that you may gain from engaging in a collaborative approach to divorce. These rewards certainly are worth an additional effort to convince your significant other that the rewards of being creative in a divorce that is collaborative far outweigh any fears or hesitations either one of you may feel in engaging in theis type of divorce.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce or other family law matter, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.