by Brian Don Levy, Esq., Collaborative Practice Attorney & Mediator
Social science research including the United States Census routinely reports that roughly fifty percent or more of all marriages end in divorce. Co-habitating relationships fail at similar rates. We expect same sex marriages to follow the same pattern statistically once enough time passes to gather the data over the next decade as well. Psychology Today reports that in 1990, fewer than one in 10 persons who got divorced was over the age of 50, while today one in four people getting divorced is 50 or older.
Since a certain amount of divorce is statistically inevitable, it is imperative we find better ways to facilitate the legal, financial, and emotional processing of a human experience through our civil systems. The emotional devastation that often occurs with the breakup of a relationship shouldn’t be a given. This is where Collaborative Practice lives.
Despite the jokes and eye-rolling over the term “conscious uncoupling,” actress Gwenyth Paltrow put her finger on a healthy modern attitude embodied within Collaborative Practice. Collaborative Practice is the process that provides a more respectful alternative to the destructive divorces we see too often when parties use the court system to end their marriage. Collaborative Practice is designed specifically around ways to minimize the hurt, the loss of self-esteem, the anger and the alienation that occurs in many traditional litigated divorces. It is also designed to support families in transition to take advantage of all of their healthy options and opportunities while building a better tomorrow.
The Collaborative Law approach is grounded upon making human dignity and respect a priority. Individuals may cease being partners, but they don’t cease being good people who deserve consideration. Nor do they cease being parents and part of a family unit after a divorce. Collaborative Practice has a firm grasp on this reality – When a divorce goes into a courtroom, the “winner take all” mentality inflicts damage and leaves pain in its wake, which takes a long time to heal at best, and may never heal at all at its worst. All of this ugliness takes place in a public forum, on the record and for all to see.
Every part of Collaborative Practice is intended to foster the respectful resolution of family problems. These intentions include open communication, interest based negotiations, solution focused negotiation, out-of-court settlement and no court divorce. When respect is given and received, self-esteem is likely to be preserved, making discussions more productive and a healthy and viable agreement more easily reached.
Collaborative Divorce allows the parties involved to find creative solutions that work for their unique situation, in a private and respectful setting. The parties are supported by a team who will help them learn the skills and techniques to work through problems and conflicts in a productive way. The future of the family is not determined by a judge who is a complete stranger to their circumstances.
The end of a marriage or relationship can be tragic in and of itself. Collaborative Practice believes that the process of divorcing shouldn’t cause or add to the pain and suffering, but rather should guide and support the clients and their children in achieving a respectful resolution of their issues, leading to a hopeful, healthy future.