136006968-writing-letters-gettyimagesIn the past few months, I have seen a number of people in my social network share this letter. It is a wonderfully written letter from an ex-Wife to her husband’s new girlfriend. Instead of the expected angry, hurtful, stay-away-from-my-children many people would have expected, the letter is filled with caring love for another human being and a potential influencer in her children’s lives. It is welcoming and tries to explain many of the nuances of the new family structures that arise out of divorce. Indeed, they take all shapes and sizes. This letter has been shared tens of thousands of times, because to the general public, it is unique. It is not what they expect to emerge out of divorce – it is not what society seems to expect of couples deciding to end a marriage. Truthfully, however, I see this kind of result all the time. As a collaborative divorce specialist, I loved this letter. It brought tears to my eyes as a real example of kindness and compassion in action. It is what I strive for every day when I work with families transitioning through divorce. We ground the collaborative process in mutual shared goals. If there are kids involved, both parents always want outcomes that protect the children. Regardless of what behavior, emotions or acts have led parents to a divorce, I know parents want to maintain strong relationships with their children and want their children to thrive in a post-divorce world. Many parents would even acknowledge the important role the other parent plays in raising the children. These goals are not unique – I see them all the time. And, when parents commit to an out of court, non-adversarial process, like collaborative law, the professionals in the process are as committed to these goals as the clients. I believe this letter demonstrates how important a positive co-parenting relationship is for children of divorce. That relationship lasts the rest of your life – figure out how to make it work. You do not need to be friends or call each other to talk about your day at work, but a respectful communication style to discuss your children will hugely benefit everyone. Having a strategy to embrace and face the changes that come after divorce is important as well. Statistically, both parents are likely to start new relationships – address these changes with healthy communication or seek outside support to learn how. Collaborative law is a divorce option that addresses many of the long-lasting implications of divorce and attempts to prepare families to move into a post-divorce life that allows everyone to thrive.

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