I know that it’s possible to divorce with love. It’s often not easy – because of all the heartache and heartbreak, the many experiences of betrayal, both large and small, that occur in the course of a marriage. But I’ve seen again and again that love does not die; it merely gets covered over.
By the time people find me, saving the marriage is typically not of interest to at least one of the spouses. But when they work together to turn back and to find one another, it is at least possible to divorce well. It’s possible to have empathy for one another’s suffering, for one another’s challenges – and to face them together (as a family). This is worthwhile for the spouses and especially if there are children because, from the perspective of a child, there are not two families but one. So it’s up to the parents to live up to the challenge created by the child’s faith, need and vision.
Non-adversarial perspectives can be applied not only to divorce but also to legal separation; paternity; child custody (including the establishment and modification of parenting plans); non-parental custody; child support; spousal maintenance, prenuptial, postnuptial and cohabitation agreements; domestic partnerships; rights of grandparents and sometimes even to particularly challenging issues like relocation.
Compassionate Approaches to Divorce
I try to help people address the challenges before them in the most efficient manner possible. For this reason, I am a proponent of alternative dispute resolution techniques, including Mediation and Collaborative Divorce, with their emphasis on negotiated resolutions.
The goal is to achieve the highest quality settlements while avoiding the conflict, expense and stress of litigation. I’ve been an attorney since 1996 and have been a collaborative divorce attorney and mediator since 2001, so I have quite a bit of experience working with clients and families to restructure their lives.
People going through divorce are almost always basically good folks facing one of the most challenging experiences of their lives. As a result, they often behave in ways they would never react if they weren’t so stressed. When both spouses are responding to the other out of challenging emotions like fear and anger, things can easily get out of hand fast.
When a home is on fire, the firemen rush to the scene and jump out of the truck to fight the flames. But they don’t pull out flamethrowers. Divorcing spouses are often like firemen trying to fight fire with fire (which is ridiculous because it doesn’t work). But if one can bring a little empathy, a bit of understanding, some kindness and a perhaps willingness to listen in response to a spouse’s anger, that’s like fighting fire with cool water and it works like magic. Of course remaining calm in the face of provocation is far easier said than done, and that’s precisely why the approaches set forth on this website exist. Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are each designed to provide containment and space for people to slow down and respond not in the heat of the moment but with a clear understanding of the larger picture, which includes an appreciation for the pain and fear that your spouse is in (and for the pain and challenges you’re up against too).
Mediation is like a single open fire hose trained on a burning building and Collaborative Divorce is like a bunch of them, all coming down on the fire from different angles. The best approach in my view is that which is adequate to cool things down so that you and your spouse can make calm, rational decisions about what’s best for your children and yourselves.
Benefits of Working Together
- Less Costly Than Litigation
- Less Time Consuming Than Litigation
- Reduces Stress on the Entire Family
- Prioritizes the Needs of Children
- Maintains & Restores Good Will
- Allows For Creative Solutions
- Leads to High Quality Settlements
- Parties Themselves Retain Control
- Maximizes Privacy
If you think there’s a chance that you and your spouse might be able to work together amicably, I suggest you take a few minutes to watch this Collaborative Divorce Video. Then ask your spouse to watch too. Even if you plan to negotiate your own divorce or attempt to reach settlement through mediation, the video will be worth viewing because it illustrates so well the experience of working together amicably.