Divorce & Emotions – Not Just a Business Transaction
I heard an advertisement on the radio this morning for a litigating divorce attorney. This attorney discussed the importance of removing the emotion from divorce and treating the divorce itself as a business transaction. I understood her point – emotions can be messy or interfere with rational decision making. However, emotion is often the biggest part of divorce. Or, it often feels that way to clients.
How can we ask clients to strip that piece out of the process? Rather, as a collaborative attorney, I believe that emotion can be used to healthily guide clients to mutually agreeable resolutions that have long-term staying power. I embrace the opportunity to take the client where they are at – emotions and all – and guide them towards resolution. Engaging a mental health professional or coach in the process can sometimes be the greatest asset provided to clients and allow them to balance the emotions with the necessary business-like decisions.
Treating a divorce as a business transaction often leads to client’s making decisions for purely financial reasons. Using emotions and feelings of fairness or equity may lead to clients feeling as if the resolutions more completely address their needs.
For example, if one spouse cheated on the other, an emotional response of anger or vindication may lead to the hurt spouse to ask for more financial pay-out. This sort of punitive outcome is not supported in the law and rarely agreed to out-of-court. However, if the parties have a co-parenting relationship or more emotional needs, a purely business-like interaction may never address some of the underlying emotions. Facilitating a discussion about how both parties are feeling and what they may need in order to move forward may been more beneficial to the clients than any financial resolution. Some clients want an apology or a better understanding of why something happened. Others may need to put in effort to establish a shared narrative or story for others.
The finances matter – sometimes most of all. The collaborative process embraces the financial side of divorce, but also allows for a more holistic and complete approach that can address emotions, if the clients so desire.
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