Home Page . Services / Contact Information . Parenting Articles . Separation/Divorce Articles . Video Clips . Links
A strength-guided, goal-oriented approach to the positive growth and
development of people and services.
Back to Separation/Divorce Articles
You may open and print this article as a one-pager
for handouts or use in a newsletter:
What if court wasn’t an option?
a marriage can be difficult. Couples are intertwined emotionally,
financially, residentially, socially and parentally. The goal of divorce
is to unravel the interconnections so the parties may resume a life as
independent of each other as possible. The divorce process may include the
input of multiple professionals. The list of professions includes legal,
financial, real estate, mental health and child specialists.
often reigns during dispute resolution as the parties stake out their
position and turf. Traditionally, the parties obtain their own lawyer who
then brings in other professionals. The lawyer’s objective is to
dissolve the marriage in a manner that as closely as possible reflects the
vision of their client. The approach tends to be adversarial, combative,
prolonged and costly. For the couple, their mutual mistrust is heightened.
The tension thus escalates and the children are exposed to more parental
conflict and uncertainty. Many couples and children are casualties in this
process. They pay financially, emotionally and socially.
is an old adage, “You can win the battle, but lose the war.” At the
end of the process, how are the children; are all relationships intact;
will the children want both parents at their wedding? Divorce marks a
moment in time, family relationships are forever.
relatively new approach to unravelling marital connections provides an
alternative to couples in divorce, helping relationships remain intact.
This can have tremendous benefit in view of the fact that those with
children will forever be connected as parents.
as Collaborative Law, the approach began in 1990, when one lawyer said he
would no longer litigate. His approach was to enter marital disputes with
the goal of reaching a negotiated settlement. In the process, his
involvement ensured that his clients would understand their rights and
then could choose their issues as they negotiated settlements free from
the threat of litigation. Anecdotal evidence from lawyers now practicing
Collaborative Law suggests less stress and tension in their practice and
that clients are more satisfied with settlements as compared to those who
the Collaborative Law process, the parties and lawyers sit round table to
share information and over time, reach consensus on solutions. In the
process, the lawyers role model appropriate problem solving behaviour
which may be instructive to the parents for managing future disputes
between themselves. Whereas each lawyer in a traditional dispute would
enlist their own set of professionals, those practicing Collaborative Law
have begun to see other professionals as team members or consultants to
the collaborative process. The role of the various consultants is to
provide information to the lawyers and parties about the likely outcomes
of various courses of action. From there, it remains a matter of
negotiation for the parties to arrive at a solution. While it may be an
expensive series of meetings, on an overall basis, negotiated settlements
tend to be far less expensive than those litigated. The added benefits are
reportedly better ongoing relationships and more durable agreements.
lawyers have yet to spring up in all jurisdictions. As a movement
Collaborative Law is still young yet organizationally making great
strides. A comprehensive website has been developed by a group of
collaborative lawyers to bring information to the public and serve as a
portal to help couples find their nearest collaborative lawyers.
While there is no one-size solution to fit all, Collaborative Family Law does offer its approach as an alternative strategy aimed at resolving disputes more amicably than traditional family law. As with any approach, there will be indications and contra-indications. However, until substantial research is conducted, anecdotal information is all that is available. Proponents sing its praises. Couples interested in exploring it further, should visit the website: www.collaborativepractice.com
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org