It is said that bad divorces never end; the conflict goes on forever and can affect families and friends – not to mention the separated couple themselves – for years to come.So surely anything that can help people achieve a more constructive separation and reduce animosity, particularly where there are children involved, would be welcomed?
The truth is there is no silver bullet. Divorce is tough. Disentangling two lives doesn’t happen overnight and, if there are children involved, doesn’t ever fully happen.
But it’s equally true to say that, with the right mindset and a willingness to be transparent, honest, and work with good faith and integrity, it is possible to separate with dignity and create a more positive basis from which to move forward with your respective lives.
Timing, attitude and mindset
Timing has a big part to play. If you can leave it a while for emotions to settle before starting divorce proceedings, it can often be a very different experience than instigating a divorce in the heat of your separation when emotions and tensions are at their height.
Your attitude and mindset are also crucial. Actively choosing not to be defensive and react in the heat of the moment; being cooperative with requests for information during the divorce process and deciding that you want a dignified divorce go a long way to making it happen.
The collaborative approach promotes a constructive mindset from the outset by clearly setting out what’s expected of both of you when you sign up to the process. Signing a participation agreement reflects your commitment to focus on fairness and behave respectfully, with kindness and understanding of the other person’s needs.
By starting from a position of trust, collaborative meetings are less prone to ill-feeling and therefore provide a much more positive environment for making level-headed decisions about your future. By talking face to face about important issues, couples avoid the long chains of email and postal correspondence that typify court cases, which can often end up as prolonged exchanges of accusations and counter-accusations.
Moving forward without animosity is never more important than when there are children involved. No matter how you’re feeling right here, right now, there aren’t many couples who would look back fondly at a time when their children were faced with an environment characterised by anger, mistrust and nastiness. And couples who are so caught up in hurt and unhappiness that they resort to using their children as bargaining tools face the very real risk of damaging their future relationships with them in the longer term.
By choosing collaborative law you are agreeing to choose a different path. You both agree to play by the rules, and the power this approach brings in helping you achieve a dignified divorce or separation simply can’t be underestimated.
If you’d like to know more about collaborative law to help decide whether it could be suitable for you or someone you know, read our advice on ‘Is collaborative law for me?’