Divorce has long been known as a bitter process full of unpleasantness and general disagreement. A new group of professionals throughout the nation is eschewing those trends, instead using creative collaborative divorce principles by literally taking couples to the mat.
That's right, divorce counselors in Connecticut and elsewhere are employing novel props in their mediation proceedings, including the use of "talking" and "listening" mats. Each person takes turns sitting or standing on those mats, which provide a prime example of the new techniques being used to ease the divorce process.
Collaborative divorce counselors reject the notion that a split has to be long and arduous, involving attorneys, discovery and other legal invasions. Instead of litigating and giving depositions, collaborative divorce professionals support couples by providing them with a divorce team to help them through the difficult process. Those groups include mental health professionals, financial advisors and attorneys who help the divorcing couple overcome financial, social and emotional barriers.
Couples must voluntarily consent to participate in the process by signing a legally binding document. That document guarantees that neither partner will take the other to court. Then, a support team is built around the couple, including a neutral financial consultant and child services specialist when necessary. The two partners meet with their individual support staff, which includes mental health professionals and attorneys, before they come together to discuss money with the financial planner. The child specialist advocates for the children throughout the process, and sometimes beyond, with services extending into custody agreements after the split.
Experts say that collaborative divorce is especially helpful for couples with children, because the process prioritizes youngsters' needs. For those who can settle their differences through collaborative proceedings, families tend to emerge healthier and happier, say advocates.
The concept is decades old, originating from attorneys' research conducted during the 1990s. A team of Midwestern lawyers found that divorce proceedings were often less painful if attorneys chose to work together from the very beginning, attempting to settle first before ever going to the courts. The idea was not particularly popular at the time. Most people thought that the best lawyers were the most contentious. Today, though, collaborative divorce attorneys abound, with professional organizations in most major cities.
If the idea of a knock-down, drag-out fight with your spouse in court doesn't sound appealing, collaborative divorce might be an option you should consider. A large number of couples have reached respectful, mutually agreeable divorce decrees through this nurturing process, which removes much of the anguish from traditional divorce strategies.
Source: NOLA.com, "Collaboration a new alternative to divorce court," Renee Peck, April 23, 2012