What support options exist for these families when parents make the difficult decision to break up? And what support options exist for parents who never formed a permanent relationship but intend to co-parent? What might Collaborative Team Practice have to offer these parents and families?Collaborative Team Practice can provide a very stable container for parents seeking to end their partnership in a dignified and respectful way, and to create a road map for future co-parenting. Depending on the legal, financial and parenting issues to be resolved, parents can select a team of professionals specifically tailored to their circumstances and needs. As a neutral child specialist, I have been privileged to work with many non-married couples and non-coupled parents to create developmentally responsive parenting plans to guide co-parenting. These are clients who take to heart the notion that kids deserve the best safe parenting they can get from both parents. The future for these children feels brighter, more hopeful and more coherent.
It takes courage and mindfulness to co-parent after a break up, or if parents have never been in a committed relationship. But we know that effective co-parenting is a cornerstone of health and resilience for children. Parents deserve all the support they can get, and Collaborative Team Practice can help provide that support.
- Help both parties identify their goals and interests
- Gather all relevant information regarding income and budgets
- Generate settlement options
- Evaluate settlement options
- Put the agreement into writing
The most common mistake I have seen couples make during divorce might surprise you. It’s something that is done unknowingly. It’s done with good intentions. It’s something our culture has taught us to do.
So what is it? It’s choosing an attorney before choosing a process. When confronted with the reality of separation or divorce, your first step may be to ask friends, co-workers or family members for the names of good family law attorneys. Seeking a referral from a trusted acquaintance seems to make sense given the extremely personal nature of this legal event. It certainly is preferable to doing a Google search.
It’s important to realize, however, that, in addition to having varying degrees of competence, different attorneys use diverse methods of conflict resolution. A well-intentioned family member or friend may recommend a litigation attorney who is most comfortable in a courtroom. If you think you will need a judge’s help in reaching a fair resolution, you should look for a lawyer with this particular skill set. On the other hand, if you are more concerned about the impact your separation will have on your children, and prefer to maintain more privacy and control during the process, Collaborative practice may be a better process option for you and your family. If that’s the case, you and your spouse or partner should look for attorneys who specialize in the Collaborative process.
Separation and divorce are among life’s most challenging events. Choosing the right process first, then attorneys, is the safest way to proceed.
“I hope we can be friends.” This is not an uncommon wish of one or both people when going through a divorce. Sometimes, however, there is a lot of pain and anguish going on for at least one of them and significant negative energy between the couple. “How did we get like this?” is another frequent question I hear in my practice. So how do we answer the question and can you become friends? It is helpful to think about how relationships develop in order to answer the question. I heard Isolina Ricci, speak to a group of mental health professionals and attorneys about her research around divorce and families a couple years ago. She introduced a very helpful concept that I often share with clients to help them understand whether and how they can be friends.When we meet people, we start with a business relationship. We use more formal language, make few assumptions, make clear agreements, have minimal expectations and are not very attached to or invested in the relationship. Ricci notes that we are private, explicit, cool and reserved. As we get to know someone and move to friendship, we are less formal, begin to make assumptions and have expectations and are therefore more invested in the relationship. When the relationship becomes intimate, we become very informal with each other, act based on assumptions formed from past experiences with the individual, give the benefit of the doubt, and are very invested in the relationship. Ricci notes that we are vulnerable, implicit, hot and intense. However, when we reach the point of divorce, the relationship has moved from one of positive intimacy to negative intimacy. We move from the positive qualities of intimacy to the opposite of those qualities, (i.e., shared to abused confidences, loyalty and trust to disloyalty and distrust, positive assumptions to negative assumptions, benefit-of-doubt to suspicion and blame, for example). What we need to realize is that when we are in a place of negative intimacy, we cannot simply go back to friendship. In order to become friends, we need to move from negative intimacy back to the business relationship and then rebuild to friendship from there. Ricci calls this the detox-negative-intimacy, where we reset to a business-like relationship. In the Collaborative process, we actually help people learn how to step back to the business relationship by modeling respectful communication, not make assumptions but ask questions to clarify, strive to be trustworthy, make clear agreements, create healthy boundaries relating to times and means of communication, and sticking to facts rather than being emotionally reactive. And this is very hard work! But, by making the intentional effort to go back to a business relationship, we can start rebuilding trust by honoring agreements, getting rid of unproductive assumptions by asking clarifying questions, and redeveloping a give-and-take relationship. Over time, it is possible to create a business like friendly relationship.