When parents think about divorce, thoughts often go to their children. How do we tell them? Will they adjust to having two homes instead of one? How will we pay their expenses? Will my ex and I be able to communicate well enough to co-parent effectively? This is unfamiliar territory, and thinking about these questions can feel overwhelming. Having a team of experienced professionals supporting you as you and your spouse move through the divorce process can make it less scary. In addition to having your own attorneys, the Collaborative Process uses neutral specialists who assist you in answering questions like these. How to tell our children about our divorce? A neutral child specialist helps you create a “we statement” for telling your children about your becoming unmarried. Your children will remember this moment for the rest of their lives, so you want to do it together, thoughtfully and with intention. The child specialist continues to work with you and your children in creating a parenting plan unique to your kids’ ages, needs and personalities. As part of your parenting plan, you and your spouse can agree to return to the child specialist for guidance if parenting issues arise in the future. How will we pay for our child’s expenses? A neutral financial specialist assists you in putting together a plan for sharing your children’s expenses. Rather than relying upon a generic child support calculator, you and your spouse openly discuss your children’s future expenses. For some couples, contributing to a joint children’s checking account makes the most sense. For others, having each parent take responsibility for certain expenses is more practical. By having a healthy discussion, you and your spouse can come up with a plan that fits your unique situation. Will we be able to communicate effectively for our future needs? A neutral coach helps you and your spouse understand and manage your emotions during the divorce process and can also guide you in methods to improve your post-divorce communications. Avoiding these conversations can leave you feeling angry and resentful, making it impossible to fully enjoy future events such as holidays, graduations, and weddings. By finding a way to move forward with your life with a positive attitude, you will make your children’s lives easier as well. If you are interested in learning more about the Collaborative Process, visit our website at www.colllaborativelaw.org to schedule a free consultation.
Mindfulness is a concept that has become part of mainstream American culture over the past decade. Hectic lifestyles, information overload and constant distractions have led more of us to look for a way to quiet our minds. In fact, many public schools, professional athletes, large corporations, and even the U. S. military, are using meditation exercises to reduce stress levels. Divorce is one of life’s most stressful experiences. Often much attention is focused on the past and the future, triggering both unpleasant memories and fearful expectations. As someone who knows first-hand the benefits of daily meditation, I see great value in using mindfulness principles in my Collaborative divorce practice. Starting the divorce conversation respectfully sets the tone for a more purposeful process. Awareness that the parties are often in different stages of divorce readiness is important. Becoming unmarried may be something that one spouse has contemplated for many years, while the other considers the marriage’s rough spots to be normal. Jointly exploring available divorce process options can also reduce fear and surprise. Processes emphasizing guided conversations between the parties, such as Collaborative divorce and mediation, reduce the likelihood of miscommunication and empower parties to achieve mutually acceptable solutions. Intentionally choosing the timing and method for divorce together establishes a calmer tone for the road ahead. Having patience during the process results in healthier outcomes. The strong urge to get things done as quickly as possible is understandable. It seems that the sooner the divorce can be finalized, the sooner life will return to normal. However, the decisions to be made are life changing with long-term impacts on the entire family. Trying to move too quickly can result in replacing one bad situation with another. Slowing down and accepting the divorce experience for what it is can allow for a deeper understanding of the issues involved. Acknowledging the good and the bad of the marriage without judgment provides valuable insight. Identifying each party’s contributions during the relationship can help the healing process begin. Recognizing one’s own part in the failure of the marriage can provide valuable insight for future relationships. Letting go of bitterness and regret is essential to moving forward in life. For divorcing couples with children, accepting “what is” allows them to redefine their relationship and communicate more effectively in the future. The ending of a marriage is, unfortunately, an all-too-common event. However, if done mindfully, divorce can be an opportunity for personal transformation and growth.