There’s a great deal of research showing that children of divorce do well when their parents respect each other and when each parent encourages the children to have a good relationship with the other. The terms of the parenting plan itself are of far less importance, from a child’s point of view, so long as both parents are basically decent caregivers.

When I was a litigator, I witnessed situations where parents who meant well destroyed their children emotionally fighting over which parenting plan terms were best for the children. Ironically, those parents didn’t mean to hurt their children. In fact, they were trying to protect them. They simply lost sight of the big picture. Of course that makes no sense. What children need, more than anything, is family harmony.

This is where Collaborative Divorce excels. With a coach (sometimes two coaches) to help the parents talk to each other and a child specialist to help discern and hold the children’s needs, parents are supported through a process that leads to a parenting plan truly focused on what’s best for the kids. When all goes well, the family emerges with a durable plan that’s also flexible and can be modified if circumstances or the needs of the children change. Most important, parents are provided support to help them resolve, rather than exacerbate, conflict and emerge in the best possible position to parent their children together.

Most people enter the collaborative process because they want a child-focused divorce process. People talk about wanting to be a family, the divorce notwithstanding, when all is said and done. They want to be able to join together in supporting the children through life’s challenges and to celebrate milestones (like weddings and graduations). In a recent case, the mother said to the father, “One day our daughter is going to have a child of her own and when that day comes, I want us to both be in the maternity ward so that we can greet our first grandchild together”. It was moving. I believe I was not the only one with a tear in my eye. One of those special moments that everyone on the collaborative team felt honored to be a part of. But such things require an ability to contain the emotions that typically arise in divorce and when trying to co-parent together when the family no longer resides in one home. Most folks have trouble getting there on their own. That’s why we have collaborative law and collaborative teams. This process is designed to maximize the parents’ chance of having an ending that allows them to parent well together going forward. Sometime families co-parent better together post-divorce than they did during the marriage.