DIVORCE. It is a word that is packed with emotional meaning for most people. It can fill marriage partners and their children with anger, betrayal, fear, disappointment, failure, guilt, relief, and a host of other feelings. Since the divorce rate in the United States for first time marriage is about 50%, just about everyone has been affected by divorce in some way. We often think of divorce as a legal process but divorce is much more that. It is a highly emotional process that deals with high stakes financial issues for most families. Most people think of litigation and courtrooms when they picture divorce—like The War the Roses—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Collaborative Divorce is a better, healthier way of working through the issues involved in divorce.
In a Collaborative Divorce, instead of two attorneys exchanging court documents filled with the uglier things that have happened to lead to the divorce in order to gain a more favorable negotiating position for their respective clients, a team of non-adversarial expert licensed professional help both husband and wife manage their difficult emotions while sorting out the legal and financial matters that must be resolved for the family to move on.
The emotional management that is unique in the Collaborative process is facilitated by one or more licensed mental health professionals called a Divorce Coach. In many ways the Divorce Coach is the emotional heart of the Collaborative Team. As we all know, divorce almost always involves strong emotions such as anger, fear, worry, guilt, shame, and despair. In Collaborative Divorce the couple, rather than the judge, crafts the agreements that will affect them and their children for many years to come. Strong emotion often impacts clear thinking and stalls (or sometimes even stops) the process of decision making. This is costly and potentially destructive because it delays the divorce process, and because legal professionals are not trained in how to deal with such strong emotion. A Divorce Coach on the other hand, are well versed in how to manage such emotion. They know how to help the couple deal with these feelings respectfully and how to help them get through these emotional obstacles so that the settlement process can proceed in a calmer and more productive manner. As such, using a Divorce Coach streamlines the process of divorce and can actually end up saving the couple money in the long run.
Divorce Coaches are also communication experts.
We do not realize how often our communications ramble, go off topic, become unproductively negative, or fail to articulate the essence of what we intend. Worse than this, couples attempting to create agreements can get bogged down in talking about the past, belittling each other, or engaging in negative comments that once again stall or derail the process. As license mental health professionals, Divorce Coaches are attuned to these communication pit falls. They are able to see, and fix, these obstacles to communication when they begin rather than after emotional damage has taken place or after the communication process has ceased or become unproductive. Once again this saves the couple time, and money.
We say that the Divorce Coach is the “heart of the Collaborative Process” because they help the couple, and perhaps most importantly their children, avoid unnecessary emotional trauma in a process that is already one of the most difficult challenges a family can face.