pexels-lukas-1352271         Collaborative Divorce is a method of divorce that started in Minnesota in 1990 and has now spread to more than 25 countries. The initial defining principle of Collaborative Divorce was that the lawyers would withdraw if the matter became adversarial and went to court. That focal point rapidly led to an evolution toward Collaborative Team Divorce in which Collaborative lawyers team up with Child Specialists, Neutral Financial Professionals, and Coaches to help clients achieve a deeper resolution of their issues. While the team approach has been very effective, hiring “full teams” of four to six professionals for each case can put the cost of Collaborative Divorce beyond the reach of many families. Therefore, Collaborative Divorce is now evolving once again to offer families an “a la carte” approach that allows them to design a “Collaborative Approach” that meets their needs. The Board of the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota (CLI), the world’s first Collaborative Law association, wrestled with this issue for more than a year before coming up with a description of this “a la carte” approach that struck a delicate balance between maintaining the integrity of the Collaborative Model and offering affordable alternatives to a broader range of families. Both authors of this article have been on the CLI Board at different times during the maturation of this discussion. How does collaborative practice work? In creating these new options, the Board of CLI realized that one of the guiding principles of Collaborative Practice is that it is first and foremost an out-of-court process with a disqualification agreement (meaning that if either person decides to go to court, the lawyers cannot represent the clients in the court process, and the parties will need to find litigation counsel). This provision allows everyone to focus on problem-solving on behalf of the clients and their children, and reach a settlement that works for both parties and any children. Collaborative Practice is a voluntary process, focused on transparency of information; instead of taking legal positions on issues that draw battle lines in the sand, we use “interest-based negotiation” in which the clients focus on explaining and fleshing out their most important needs and concerns – rather than their theoretical legal rights – so they can reach a deeper resolution. Generally, we have found that having an interdisciplinary team of professionals, including not only lawyers, but also mental health professionals, financial advisors and more, operating outside the shadow of the courthouse, often provides clients with the best opportunity to achieve these goals and interests. However, we also have come to realize that it is not financially practical for many clients to engage a full team of professionals. Building a more affordable, accessible model Therefore, we decided to develop ways in which clients can have many of the benefits of the Collaborative Process (i.e. an out of court focus, interest-based bargaining, and interdisciplinary practice), without having to engage the full “bundle” of collaborative professionals. The Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota (CLI) has defined itself as an organization of multidisciplinary family law professionals who value resolving family law matters:
  • With respect, dignity, and integrity
  • In a child-centered and family friendly way
  • Using a customized process based on client needs
  • With a holistic blend of legal, financial, parenting, and relationship expertise
  • Focusing on equitable and sustainable solutions
  • Limiting the scope of services to out-of-court problem solving
Bearing all this in mind, CLI has developed a new website that includes new detailed information about a la carte services that we can provide, grounded in the shared values and skills listed above. The website includes a variety of examples of how clients can use any of the individual professionals in a limited scope, out-of-court manner, in cases such as the following:
  • When couples have resolved issues that must be addressed in their divorce, and they would like a settlement-oriented lawyer to draft all the necessary legal paperwork.
  • When couples are working through a divorce mainly on their own, but would like the assistance of a neutral child specialist – a licensed mental health professional specializing in child-development and family systems, who focuses on helping families craft a child-focused parenting plan.
  • When individuals completed a divorce some time ago and would like input from a neutral child specialist or neutral coach: a licensed mental health professional specializing in communication, relational and conflict-resolution skills, regarding family issues related to their children, or their co-parenting relationship, or ongoing communication with one another.
  • One spouse (or both) would like a neutral financial advisor, a professional with strong financial acumen who can run calculations and options without investment in a particular outcome for either person, to assist in determining options for dividing property in a divorce, but are otherwise comfortable handling the divorce on their own.
In addition, families can combine portions of the Collaborative Process so that families can have “mini-teams” to fit their particular situation. Quite often the type of “mini-team” that is hired may depend on the first professional they select in the a la carte system. For example:
  • Clients who chose to start by working with a neutral financial advisor for a few sessions, may choose to have a child specialist help them on the parenting portions, and simply bring in the lawyers at the end to review and finalize the process.
  • Similarly, a couple with relatively simple financial issues could work with a child specialist or coach at the beginning and bring in lawyers where needed.
  • Clients who begin in the more traditional manner of starting with lawyers may either have the lawyers assist through most of the process or have the Lawyers “step back” while other team members assist with the majority of the work.
While all of these options involve some professional assistance, couples can sometimes complete the process for as little as $2000-$4000, and still have the benefit of finding deeper resolution, as well as hopefully developing skills to help them beyond the divorce. Of course, cost always depends on how ready clients are to reach settlement. Following the uniform standards developed to define and regulate Collaborative Practice by lawyers, we have held to the principle that in order to be defined as a “Collaborative Divorce” there must be lawyers for both spouses involved, who agree to withdraw if the divorce goes to court. However, couples who choose to be self-represented can still get assistance from other Collaborative Professionals (who work with the parties but will not go to court). Similarly, if a client chooses to work without lawyers in an a la carte manner, it is not technically an unbundled “legal” service, but a version of unbundling with some of the components of a Collaborative Team. Whether it is necessary to find other terms for describing these options is still an unresolved issue. For the time being, our focus has been on trying to create tools for families that will give them as many options as possible, and to make at least some, if not all, of the benefits of the Collaborative model affordable for a wider range of families. We commend this approach to those seeking affordable expert assistance in the divorce process. Learn more at www.collaborativelaw.org ABOUT THE AUTHORS Louise-_Livesay-AlLouise Livesay Founder, Livesay Law Office Louise Livesay, JD is known for her ability to problem-solve on behalf of her clients in a way that maximizes the best outcome for the entire family. Understanding that most families facing divorce or uncoupling want to have effective co-parenting relationships and be treated with respect and feel heard during the process, she has created a practice focused on fostering healthy families as they transition to a new configuration through non-adversarial methods, such as the Collaborative Process and Mediation. For more information about his practice go to www.collaborativelawmn.com Ron OuskyRon Ousky, JD, is a Collaborative Attorney and mediator who has dedicated his practice to making sure that families facing conflict understand their options.  He believes that families facing divorce are in a unique situation to make a better life for their families and he is dedicated to helping them find the resources to build a better future.  For more information about his practice go to www.ousky.com Tagged with: Collaborative Divorcecollaborative divorce processCollaborative Family LawHiring Divorce AttorneyLimited Scope Legal ServicesUnbundled DivorceUnbundled Divorce ServicesUnbundled Legal Adviceout of courtProblem SolvingRespectful divorceMediationwin-win outcomes
woman reminiscing There has been some buzz about the new film on Netflix called Marriage Story about a couple, Charlie and Nicole, with a son, Henry, going through divorce. I decided to watch it since this is my area of practice and a prospective client referenced it last week in a consultation.  It started with the couple stating all these things they loved about the other person with pleasant images of life together.  I was ready for an uplifting movie, until about 8 minutes in, when I learn that the couple is in a divorce meditation session and Nicole refuses to read her list out loud of what she loves about Charlie.The mediator says he likes to start mediation with a “note of positivity” to set the stage for working together.   Noble idea, but is that the best way to start? I don’t know any mediators that start that way.  I wondered if people now think that is how all mediations start.  While I too try to start from a more positive place, I start by asking clients to identify the goals they each have for the process and outcomes so we can see if they have any common visions for the future in separate homes.  I am amazed how often people have common goals around their kids and other outcomes and many times support goals that are specific to one person.  But I don’t think I would start by asking them to share a written list of qualities they love about their soon to be former spouse.  That is more appropriate for marriage counseling. What a different dynamic that sets in mediation.  When one person wants the divorce and the other one doesn’t, it starts the process from a place of internal conflict.  It was visible in the movie.  I just don’t think mediators do that and it paints an inaccurate picture of the process. But, I appreciated how Charlie and Nicole were trying to work together in mediation.  Unfortunately, the film spent very little time on the topic of mediation. Instead, at the 20 minute mark, the story moved in the direction of the Nicole, played by Scarlett Johansson, hiring the LA attorney Nora Fanshaw, played by Laura Dern, a sexy, savvy attorney that you want to trust, but your gut tells you, “Not too fast.”  When Charlie, played by Adam Driver, goes to find his own attorney, feeling distraught that Nicole suddenly switched directions and hired an attorney, the first attorney he talks to recognizes that Nora is on the other side, clearly knowing how she operates, and says his rate is $900/hr, he needs a retainer of $25,000 and they will need to do forensic accounting for $10,000-$20,000.  Everything indicates an expensive, high stakes fight.  He then starts asking all these questions to elicit information so he can immediately start strategizing about all these angles to take and “Win!” Charlie realizes what he is walking into, leaves and eventually lands on hiring Bert Spitz at $400/hr, played by Alan Alda, after there is no one else to hire because Nicole has met with all the other “good attorneys” in order to get them disqualified from being able to meet with Charlie.  But in the end, reasonable sounding Bert isn’t tough enough against Nora so, Charlie decides to go with the $900/hr attorney afterall. Well, the whole thing devolves into a knock down drag out court battle over money, custody (including a custody evaluation), and the attorneys revealing every dark secret about the other parent and “slinging mud,” in order to convince the judge to rule in their favor.  Your heart breaks for Charlie and Nicole, but especially for Henry, caught in the middle. And then I heard my own voice say, “That is exactly why I am a Collaborative attorney, instead!”  It is clear that neither Nicole nor Charlie ever thought they would go down that vicious road but what is clear, is that the divorce took on a life of its own.  Nicole left everything to Nora to handle and decided not to question how she operated. What was also clear to me was who they each chose to represent them had everything to do with how things went.  Charlie and Nicole were not asked what was important to each of them or what they wanted for Henry.  From the moment they met the attorneys, the attorneys were building their case, setting up the chessboard and thinking about what moves to make to win the game despite the casualties. Why does that matter?  When an attorney can only think in the win-lose mind frame, that they have all the answers and that everything has to follow what they think is the right path, you are giving up all power over your family and your life. Most people I meet with want to be in charge of these major decisions that will impact their life and family.  It is important to stop and think about what is important for you, your kids, and your family.  You are still part of a family system, even when you are getting a divorce.  You are just changing the family configuration, setting new boundaries and expectations, and figuring out how to divide the assets and manage cash flow living separately.  Working with attorneys who understand this, who are focused on problem-solving and reaching a win-win outcome out of court, makes all the difference for clients and their family.  And if you have two attorneys who trust each other professionally, that is an asset to you and your spouse.  The Collaborative Divorce process offers just that: a respectful, transparent, child-focused, problem-solving out-of-court approach for divorce.  Ask yourself what story you want your children to say about their parents’ divorce when they are 25? Choose wisely.
About 3 and a-half years ago, a family in the Collaborative Divorce  process was working with the Neutral Child Specialist .   It was stated by my client that dad’s alcohol use was the primary basis for her seeking the divorce. She couldn’t take it anymore. She had been involved in Al-Anon and working on no longer being codependent and practicing stronger boundaries. Dad denied that he had any problems. Mom wanted their teenage daughter to have a relationship with her dad, but wanted it to be a healthy relationship that didn’t put her at risk. What came out in the work with the daughter was that she experienced her dad drinking and driving and she only wanted to spend time with dad when she felt safe. beer-can-79546During the process of creating the parenting plan, the Neutral Child Specialist arranged for a meeting the parents both agreed to attend in which it could be determined, and possibly ruled out, whether dad did have any problems with substance abuse. This happened because of how the team of lawyers and professionals worked together thinking about the greater good of the family system. But at the meeting dad wasn’t ready to hear it, and again said he had things under control. So, a parenting plan was created that gave daughter the opportunity to have time with her dad in smaller chunks of time, but have a mechanism in place to end the time if she ever felt at risk. Mom could also say no to time if she had a basis to say that dad was under the influence. They created details that both parents, and their child, felt comfortable with because they could focus on what was needed for the child to feel safe as well as the importance of the parent-child relationships. After the divorce, about a year later, I received a note from her client. She said that dad was finally pursuing treatment with the two professionals the Neutral Child Specialist had arranged the meeting with during the work on the parenting plan. She said that dad finally hit bottom and was ready to begin his recovery. When I look back on this case, I believe that a seed was planted and a relationship was started with people that dad could finally hold his hand out to for help when he was ready. And, because you can not force someone to make change before they are ready, a parenting plan was created that was responsive to the needs of the child. The dad was not dragged through the mud and vilified, and denied access to his child. Rather, a child responsive plan was put in place and now this family is on a better path. The mom said in a note to me, “I really appreciate the entire collaborative team. The support through this most difficult time was immeasurably helpful. I found [your] and the team’s understanding, when dealing with a substance abuse spouse, extremely insightful. [The Neutral Child Specialist] was direct, yet kind in dealing with both [dad] and myself. The entire team had our daughter’s interests at the forefront. [Dad’s] attorney also was helpful in this aspect, aware of the pitfalls in dealing with an alcoholic….thank you…in helping me through this, supporting my goals and providing a positive environment.”
Facebook is such a handy way to communicate what is going on in your life. It is a quick way to communicate life changes, events, accomplishments and information to people. And then people let you know they hear your news and can respond with a comment or message to you publically or privately or simply click “Like.” You know they heard your news! And chances are, you and your spouse are “Friends” of each other’s Facebook pages. So rather than telling the 200+ people you know individually that you are getting a divorce, whether by your choice or not, you can tell it once. CONVENIENT! PAIN-LESS! DONE! Oh, not so fast… So what does it mean when someone “Likes” your status update? Does that mean that your friend, mutual to you and your spouse, is happy for you? Are they loyal to you and not your spouse by clicking “Like?” Does your spouse find out you posted it because a friend comments on your status and types in your spouse’s name and then he or she sees all the comments and the fact that you have 50 “Likes?” Are your kids “Friends” of yours or your spouse? You know how the social network bleeds information. Do you post status updates about your divorce progress on Facebook? So what are some helpful rules to keep in mind when you are thinking Facebook and divorce? Because, what you say on Facebook will eventually get back to your spouse! Here are the Top 5 rules for Facebook in divorce: 1. Ask first. If you want to tell people via Facebook that you are getting a divorce, ask your spouse if he or she is okay with you posting that. 2. Have your spouse approve the message before posting. Once it is out there, you really can’t take it back. 3. Be up front with your friends. Tell your friends that you do not want them to “Like” the post, it is only for informational purposes and comments can be made privately. 4. Be kind in what you say. Don’t trash your spouse. And don’t post every step of progress in the divorce on your Facebook page. 5. Don’t post it on Facebook at all. Tell people directly in person, by phone or email. (Remember group email and “reply all”–not good) You are in charge of what information you share and maintaining a respectful divorce with your spouse. What you think is a “no big deal” can actually lead to a lot of conflict in divorce that could have been so easily prevented.  Ask yourself how you would feel if the message was posted about you. So think twice, and maybe thrice before you hit “Post.”
Prof Mnookin at the CMR No.103F“I am so glad we came in together, this has been so helpful.” This is a comment I hear so often from couples after they come in to meet with me together to talk about their divorce process options. Not all attorneys offer the opportunity to come in together but it is becoming a more frequent offering by attorneys who practice Collaborative divorce. Who each of you meet with before you make any decision about how to move forward when there is a decision to divorce, can make all the difference in how things play out during and after a divorce for you, your spouse and children. Imagine, if one person meets with an attorney that focuses on gathering information (how much your spouse earns, nature and amount of assets, whether you want custody of the children, etc.) and assessing the outcome before you have decided how you will more forward with process (Mediation, traditional court process, Collaborative, etc.). It sets the tone for everything that follows, often times setting up a win-lose dynamic. But is that what you want? Most people want as healthy and positive co-parenting relationship going forward that they can have and want to achieve a win-win outcome. On the other hand, if a couple meets together with an attorney to learn about process options before getting into the details of the assets, cash flow/support, etc., you are focusing on the tone and manner in which you move forward, rather than the positions that can be formulated. Couples can then make a mutually informed decision about how to move forward. And the hidden benefit is that, if that attorney is hired by one of you, you already know the philosophy of the other key person in the negotiation; your spouses attorney. Imagine what a difference that can make in creating a more positive divorce experience. It can be an invaluable decision.
Friends

“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.
Now that Minnesota has passed the Same-Sex Marriage Bill, there is much to figure out with regard to how laws will apply to same-sex couples and how laws will need to be amended to include same-sex couples.  Now that same-sex couples can marry, they will also be subject to the laws for dissolving the marriage.  The costs to the couples for going through the process might change because there will be a legal structure in place that now answers questions about division of assets and liabilities, as well as custody and parenting issue.  As noted in the article in CNN Money about the cost of same-sex divorce, the cost for a “divorce” in states that have not recognized same-sex marriage has proven to be higher than states where same-sex marriage is recognized. The article notes that, “For an out-of-court settlement in states where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized, a same-sex divorce typically costs around $20,000, versus $10,000 for an opposite-sex couple, said Randall Kessler, a partner at Kessler & Solomiany Family Law Attorneys in Atlanta.” When children are involved, it further states that,  “Same-sex couples who negotiate property division on their own but bring the custody issue to court are usually looking at $40,000, compared to $20,000 for opposite-sex couples, Kessler said. And a long, drawn-out court battle over custody could lead costs to jump to $100,000 or more for a same-sex couple, twice what it costs for an opposite-sex couple.” In my Collaborative practice, I have previously worked with same-sex couples dissolving their relationship with children.  We did have to navigate the legal system with some creativity to address the issues of property division and parenting issues because they did not fit into the opposite-sex dissolution system.  But the Collaborative process allowed them to be treated as a family system and reach a settlement that worked for everyone involved and it was less expensive than if it had been done through traditional legal system.  Now that we have legalized same-sex marriage in Minnesota, we will have a system in place that will provide answers to the legal questions that arise in same-sex divorce.  And the Collaborative Process will continue to be a responsive process to help manage costs, keep the decision making power within the family, and enable healthy transitions.
Almost every potential client I meet with wants to minimize the negative effects of divorce on the children.  So many couples want to consciously have a healthy co-parenting relationship. And as parents, we know our kids better than anyone and should be able to make decisions about what our children need. Over my years of practicing family law, I have also learned that children benefit from having a voice in the process and an opportunity to feel heard. And they need a safe place to talk about what they are struggling with during the divorce.  Not surprisingly, kids do not want to tell mom or dad things they think will hurt their feelings yet, they can feel torn, even with the best of intentions by both parents.  What we know is that kids have undivided loyalty to both parents.  They can say very conflicting things to each parent (if the parents compared notes between them) yet, it was their truth each time they said it. They are afraid sometimes to speak about what they need, because they don’t want to “make waves” or cause sadness. When I went through my divorce, my former spouse and I worked with a Neutral Child Specialist in the Collaborative process.  After meeting with the specialist and talking about our kids’ temperaments, developmental needs, sibling dynamics and our concerns, the specialist met with our kids once together and then individually.  We then had a feedback session that provided us with some great insights by and about our kids that we used to create our parenting plan.  We learned what we were doing well, where our kids were struggling, what they worried about and how we could better help them.  We knew some things already, but also learned a lot while hearing things framed in a positive and constructive manner from the neutral. Then, about a year and a half later, my son (then almost 10) asked when he could go back and talk to that woman who helped us with our divorce.  Rather than pressing him about what prompted the request, his dad and I set up an appointment with him to check in with the Neutral Child Specialist. Low and behold, he was feeling a lot of stress each week because there were too many transitions between houses. We thought that our kids needed to see us each regularly but learned that the number of transitions was really hard on him.  So when we met together with the specialist, we created a new plan that kept us regularly involved in the kids’ lives, but decreased the number of transitions from 7  to 4 every two weeks.  Our son was worried that one of us would think that he didn’t like spending time with us if the time changed and that he was choosing one parent over the other despite having a great relationship with each of us. We were so glad that he had someone he felt safe with in voicing what wasn’t working for him and he could ask for help.  It was so much easier for him to talk to a neutral person, rather than worrying about how we might take what he was saying wrong. It was so helpful to hear from the specialist and have a safe place for us to problem solve. This is how the collaborative process helps keep children in the center, but not in the middle.
Several years back, I was working on a case with another collaborative attorney and our clients were arguing about a parenting issue.  My client was trying to tell her soon-to-be former spouse how he should spend his time with their daughter.  Rather than being reactive and pushing back on my client, the other attorney pulled out a piece of paper and drew a rectangle and started talking about them sharing a back yard as a couple and that when they were together, they had a common vision or idea (not always void of conflict, mind you) about how they raised their daughter and spent their resources.  They let certain people enter their common back yard, decided how they would care for the back yard and how they wanted it to look. Then The other attorney took her pen and drew a line down the middle of the back yard and talked about how the back yard is now owned half by my client and half by her client.  And what was once a shared space is no longer shared, although they share a common fence.  They can look over the common fence and talk about things that are important to them about their common values and goals, but they each no longer had the same authority to decide what happened in the other’s yard or who the other let into that space.  She very gently and tactfully said that what we were talking about with regard to the daughter and how time was spent in the other person’s back yard, is no longer my client’s back yard to tend to.  And then she mentioned something that her client no longer had the right to tend to in my client’s back yard.  The couple paused and you could see the light bulb go on in their heads.  It was a great metaphor for what happens during a divorce. In a Collaborative Divorce, the team of professionals help the couple define their own back yards and identify what boundaries, ordinances, and communications are appropriate and necessary for their shared vision of parenting and a healthy divorce.   This can be a very difficult transition for many people.  And working with a divorce coach or neutral child specialist helps couples redefine their boundaries and expectations around parenting, communication and their newly defined relationship; all of which are part of creating a parenting plan/relationship plan.  Each couple has to learn what they continue to have a say over and what they no longer have a say over with their soon-to-be former spouse. During the next two meetings with this couple, they each commented on several occasions when they recognized they were entering the other’s back yard, and then stepped back and simply stated their concern or idea, but left it at that rather than forcing an issue.  It was a non-charged term they could use going forward as co-parents.  They learned where their common fence stood.  After all, good fences make good neighbors, right?
I remember about 9 years ago when I needed to make a big life changing decision.  I knew I needed to decide whether or not to leave my safe, predictable law position or go and start my own firm, practicing in a way that felt aligned with my values.  But there were so many uncertainties about making the change.  So I maintained the status quo longer than planned because I needed to get to the place of being ready to take that next step.  And sometimes circumstances push us to a place of being ready before we were planning on it. This is what happens when people divorce.  Usually, one spouse has been contemplating the idea longer than the other and when they make the decision to move forward with divorce, their spouse is not at the same place of readiness.  And when people decide to get a divorce, wanting it over sooner rather than later is what many people want.  But paying attention to where your partner is in readiness, can make all the difference between a good divorce and a bad divorce.  This is something you have influence over.  Giving your spouse a chance to “catch up” and come to terms with the end of the relationship means they will be able to move forward with less resentment, anger and sadness.  And those emotions in a divorce do not make for smooth sailing for you or your children.  If you want a peaceful divorce, readiness is your first opportunity to begin that process. There are things that you can do to move things forward that you can discuss with your attorney, while your soon-to-be ex catches up, like researching your divorce process options (i.e., Collaborative Divorce, Mediation, etc.), gathering necessary documents, working with a therapist, or exploring separating.  But to push them into a process before they are ready, can end up being a disastrous decision.  Giving them time, can be the best thing you do for yourself and your family as a whole.  This is the difference between being penny-wise and pound-foolish and having a no-court divorce. If I had been forced to start my practice before I was ready, I might have chosen to do a different area of law; not found my great office space; and possibly made unwise financial decisions, rather than practicing Collaborative Family Law (something that I truly enjoy doing) in an office that feels safe and comfortable to my clients.  Being ready made all the difference for me.