To infinity, and beyond…

Well not quite. But when you are going through a divorce, it can feel as if the process will never end, especially if you’ve chosen litigation. During a litigated divorce, it’s not uncommon for spouses to have so much trouble communicating about divorce, money, and children, they end up speaking only through their attorneys. Sound familiar? I’m sure your friends have told you the horror stories. It soon becomes easy for information, as well as intentions, to be misinterpreted. Delays become commonplace, and the more time you ask of your attorney the more expensive the divorce becomes for both you and your spouse. And to make matters worse, speaking through attorneys is not a great set-up for post-divorce communication. 

during divorce

In contrast, the collaborative divorce process will provide you with the guidance of a neutral, mental health professional (MHP), or communications coach who will be keen to understand your unique circumstances and needs. It is this understanding that allows the neutral professional to tailor an effective communication plan that will be used during the divorce and afterward. 

What does that look like in real time? 

First, the MHP will spend time with you to help you determine important goals and interests for you and your family. For example, how do each of you see yourselves interacting with each other in the future? Or, if you have children, how do you want them to experience their parents’ behavior at, for instance, dance class or a baseball game? Will you communicate with texts or phone calls or through email? These are just a few of the questions you will want to find answers to for your family. 

How you act on and off the court? (No pun intended) 

During the collaborative divorce process, you will be meeting with an experienced team of people made up of your neutral MHP, your neutral financial professional (FP), and each of your individual collaborative attorneys. Your MHP will be coaching everyone at the table on best communication practices during these team meetings. This allows all of us to walk alongside you, as you problem solve, and generate options for you and your family. When you and your MHP meet offline, without the full team, you will learn how to make your message concise and easily understood, and more importantly, how to actively listen and check for meaning. If, in the future, you will be a co-parent, you will also learn what is important for you to share with the other parent concerning your children, why it’s important, and the best ways to do so. 

Let’s face it. Divorce is hard, and going through the process can inherently cause hard feelings. What better way to deal with those feelings than by facing them and talking them out using healthy communication. The collaborative divorce process has been developed so that you might experience less stress and more cooperation as you make crucial decisions and plans for your post-divorce life. I encourage you to consider choosing collaborative divorce for yourself and your family. Your older self, and children, may very well thank you. 

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