by Brian Don Levy, Esq., Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
The case history: John first came to see me looking for an attorney to represent him in his divorce case in family court. This is the most important choice he will have to make in the entire divorce process: choosing the process for his divorce case.
As a firm believer in the Collaborative Divorce Process, we discussed why John should consider the Collaborative Divorce process, which is part of every initial divorce consultation – when I meet with clients – I discuss divorce process options.
John then disclosed he had already been in mediation with some of my legal colleagues. John’s wife, Mary, withdrew from the process. He was distrustful of the process and not inclined to give it another try.
In spite of John and Mary’s failure, I still believed the Collaborative Process would serve them well. Nearly a year later, the divorce case was successfully concluded through the Collaborative Process.
Note: To avoid the clumsiness of using “child/children,” “children” is intentionally used throughout this article
It is clear you care about doing the best you can for your children through the separation and divorce process, because you are reading this article. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. No one is. Remember to keep taking slow, deep breaths. You and your children will get through this difficult time.
Consider the following tips to help you prepare to talk with your minor children.
Agree on a time when you and your spouse can talk with your children together. Siblings need the support system they can provide each other. Divorce is a major life crisis for all family members and should be treated as such. Ideally, it is best to share the news with your children when they will have adequate time to absorb what you will be telling them; for instance, when they do not have to go back to school in a day or two after hearing the news.
One of the most difficult steps in the divorce process is talking about your decision with your adult children. It may feel like admitting a failure, or letting them down.
Divorce is a major life crisis for all family members and should be treated as such, even when your children are no longer “kids.” Children who are adults when their parents divorced consistently report years later the news of their parents’ divorce “rocked the very foundation” of their world.
You are making a good start and doing the best you can. You are reading this blog post. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. No one is perfect. Breathe deeply; you and your children can get through this difficult time together. These tips will help guide you through this process.
Schedule a time when you can speak with your children together and preferably in person. Siblings benefit from the support system they can provide each other. When you are scheduling the time to talk, tell them you have something important to discuss with them. Assure them no one is sick or dying. If they ask you what you want to talk about, tell them
Clients often wonder how working with a team of professionals will benefit them when moving forward with the Collaborative Process for their divorce. Even experienced practitioners sometimes fail to understand how all professionals on an interdisciplinary team can assist and support clients, even high-conflict clients, to become “Agreement Ready.”
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Carol Hughes, family law lawyer Diana L. Martinez, and financial specialist Cathleen Collinsworth offer recent findings from neuroscience showing how working in teams can assist clients resolve even their most difficult conflicts at the upcoming Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) “Celebration XI” Conference in Redwood City, California April 29 – May 1.
Dr. Hughes says the training is designed for all practitioners who want to continue evolving their ability to assist clients with the powerful tools provided through the Collaborative Process. Participants will learn techniques for assisting clients:
Identify and develop the clients’ ‘Key Elements of Agreement’ that avoid being too specific or too vague and therefore of no value.
Identify and develop the clients’ ‘Questions To Be Answered’ relative to their ‘Key Elements of Agreement.’
Develop ‘Options for Resolution’ that are both individually and family-centric interest based.