Beyond the trauma of a marriage coming apart and a formerly positive relationship ending, the divorce process can sometimes leave people confused and feeling out of control. Between the stress and anxiety of a soon-to-be ex dragging your past through the mud and opposing counsel executing all sorts of legal maneuvers in a language you don’t speak, it’s natural to feel frightened and alone.
Trying to make sense of it all can make anyone want to rip his or her hair out. Googling doesn’t help, as many online resources can also be complicated, emotional and may not always apply to what’s happening in your particular circumstance.
So, what can you do to feel less overwhelmed and hold your own?
One suggestion is to look for processes beyond traditional litigation-based forums. These alternative processes remove much of the formal judicial setting and tense courtroom wrangling that looks exciting on TV, but is not fun to sit through.
Instead of the antagonistic anxiety-producing court-room drama, consider various alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Here, the clients are the main principals in any discussion with guidance from your professional team, all with the shared goal of ending the marriage while maintaining integrity of the family unit. Each meeting is less formal, all about your case, and isn’t subject to a court schedule.
In Collaborative Divorce rather than having lawyers duke it out with each other, each party has access to various legal experts who can give advice on how to communicate, suggestions on creating custody plans and co-parenting strategies, tips on reconfiguring and allocating finances, and assistance with other logistics of the divorce process – all without any blame.
A big focus of the Collaborative Divorce process is something called “interest-based bargaining.” Each person may have certain key goals and preferences that they want to discuss and not get distracted by other issues. Maybe one person wants to make sure kids are taken care of first, and then worry about other possessions. Once you and the team figure out each person’s interests, it’s a great starting place to see where there’s overlap and what compromises can be achieved.
These conversations aren’t always going to be easy but by zeroing in on “what’s most important,” common ground can be found, which is a good place to begin negotiations.