If your marriage has failed, but you don’t want to spend months or years bickering over the same things that brought the relationship to an end, you may have considered the collaborative approach to divorce, where all parties and their attorneys work to resolve any issues or disagreements without the intervention of the court. It can be an effective and less stressful process than a traditional divorce, but both parties (and their lawyers) have to be on board, and need to concur on a number of basic principles:
- There needs to be a free and open exchange of information at all times — It will be difficult to reach a mutually acceptable solution if you try to hide information from the other parties. The more transparency you have, the smoother the process will be.
- You need to be committed to listening, as well as advocating — The collaborative process is a two way street. Try to listen to your ex and understand his or her concerns.
- All interactions should be as courteous and respectful as possible — Very little will be accomplished if you try to bully or dominate your ex.
- You’ll have a better chance of moving forward if you leave the past behind — The past can’t be changed, and no amount of bringing it up will help resolve y our differences. Focus on where you are headed, not where you’ve been.
- Put your children’s interests ahead of yours — Your children will probably be affected more acutely by the divorce than you will be, and they don’t have all the tools to cope. When making any decision, always ask first how it will affect your children, both in the short term and for years to come.
- Always bargain in good faith — Deception or posturing has no place in the collaborative process. You’ll reach a better solution, and sooner, if you honestly seek a solution that works for everyone.