What do you really want from your divorce?
Have you considered this question? While that might seem like an odd question, it really isn’t all that uncommon for people to get swept up in the divorce process without ever really considering this question. In the midst of an emotional divorce people will often confuse their “position” with what it is they really want in terms of a final outcome. Their position is simply a way of asserting what it is they want as it relates to life after the divorce is over.
For example, a father may tell his attorney that he wants joint physical custody of the children. His attorney asks why he wants joint physical custody and he replies that he wants to see his children at least half the time. His attorney responds by asking the question. “What if your wife will agree to a schedule that gives you that but won’t agree to call it joint physical custody?” 1 After careful consideration, he decides that he would be happy with that outcome.
The father above really wants to have equal time to spend with his children. His first response was to assert a legal position as opposed to considering various solutions where his true interests (wants) might be accomplished.
Even if his wife was willing to allow for equal time, it is possible that if the case were litigated she would take a defensive posture against his position. In that case, the result would be an ongoing, increasingly adversarial, emotional and costly divorce that could have otherwise been avoided.
Unfortunately, that is the nature of litigation.
Collaborative divorce, on the other hand, helps couples communicate in an open, honest and respectful environment. By removing the need for legal positions, the collaborative process allows couples to figure out what it is they really want, identify common goals and then create shared solutions. Under this circumstance, there is greater likelihood of the couple achieving a settlement in everyone’s best interests.
The backbone of this process is the collaborative team. The collaborative team generally includes the respective attorneys, a child specialist, a mental health professional and the financial neutral. Of course the members who will become part of the team will be determined based on the parties’ particular needs. The collaborative team members are trained professionals who help facilitate effective communication, identify issues, address each party’s concerns and help develop fair and often creative solutions.
1. Webb, Stuart G., and Ron Ousky. The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids, without Going to Court. New York: Hudson Street, 2006.
Considering Divorce? Do You Have Questions?
Contact our office at 973-425-9001 or submit a contact form to schedule a consultation to determine whether this approach is appropriate for you or whether another alternative dispute resolution method is better suited to your particular needs and circumstances. Patricia E. Carney.Esq. can provide you with the information necessary for you to make an informed decision about what is best for you and your family.