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A Good Choice: Collaborative Divorce


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Authors of Collaborative Divorce

We know from long experience that only collaborative divorce — not old-style adversarial legal representation, and not a single mediator working with or without lawyers in the picture — views divorce as a complex experience requiring advice and counsel from multiple perspectives if it is to be navigated well. Collaborative divorce prepares you to deal with the emotional challenges and changes associated with divorce and provides the resources that can best help you make a healthy transition from married to single.

Collaborative divorce builds in important protections for children, too. It informs you fully about how your children are experiencing the divorce and what they need to weather the big changes in their family structure without harm. It helps protect your future relationship with your spouse by informing both of you fully — together, at the same time — about the financial realities of your marriage and divorce in a way that eliminates pointless arguments about economic issues. It also teaches you and your spouse new ways of problem solving and conflict resolution so that you develop useful skills for addressing your differences more constructively in the future. Further, collaborative divorce

Helps you clarify your individual and shared values and priorities
Helps you and your spouse reach maximum consensus
Includes complete advice about the law without using legal rights as the sole template for negotiation and resolution
Helps you and your spouse resolve serious differences creatively and without destructive conflict
Helps parents improve their ability to coparent after divorce
Builds in agreements about resolution of future differences after the divorce is over
Focuses not only on resolving past differences but also on planning for healthy responses to current challenges and on laying a strong foundation for the future after the divorce is over
Aims toward deep resolution, not shallow peace
Why You Do Not Want an “Old-Style Divorce”

We’re confident that, like the people we work with every day, you want to protect yourself and your loved ones from the havoc that an old-style divorce can wreak in your lives. Let’s summarize the facts you now know about old-style divorce:

It is based on the centuries-old belief that divorce is wrong and abnormal
It seeks to find fault and mete out punishment
It focuses on the past
It is premised on conflict
It is constrained by an arbitrary legal framework intended to resolve matters of right and wrong by the exchange of money
It aims at a deal, not deep resolution
It fails to take into account current understandings of how people are wired, what they need in times of change, what children need during and after divorce, and how families change and restructure
What’s more, we know that old-style divorce is bad for individuals, families, and communities because

It’s expensive
It’s hurtful and damaging
It’s “one size fits all”
It deems irrelevant many common concerns that are extremely important to most people because judges can’t issue enforceable orders about them
It focuses on the past
It encourages unrealistic expectations on the part of both spouses about what should happen in the divorce
It resolves disputes through competing predictions of what a judge would do rather than focusing on what you and your partner can agree on
It won’t provide essential help to you or those you care about
The emotional and social costs are incalculable
Luckily, we live in an era when there is finally a better option — one that can end a marriage without destroying a family or setting into motion negative effects that can bedevil family members for a lifetime.

Why Collaborative Divorce Works So Well

The reasons why collaborative divorce does such a good job of helping most people achieve their own “best divorce” are simple. Collaborative divorce addresses the financial and legal matters that must be resolved in any divorce, but it does so more effectively because it provides the built-in help of three professions, not just one. The design of collaborative divorce — with its team of professionals, its systematic attention to values, its emphasis on healthy relationships, and its focus on the future — takes into account the broad spectrum of what really matters to most people when their marriages end. It considers not only the two spouses but those around them who also matter to the divorcing couple and who will be both directly and indirectly affected by a good or a bad divorce: children, families, and even extended families, friends, and colleagues. It applies what we know about marriage and divorce from the realms of psychology, sociology, history, law, communication theory, conflict resolution theory, finance, and other realms in a very practical, useful, and concrete way.

Collaborative Divorce Deals With What People Actually Experience in Divorce

Unlike any other divorce conflict resolution process that has come before, collaborative divorce teams make constant use of vital information about how people are “wired,” how we think, how our emotions affect our ability to communicate effectively and to process information, how we experience pain and loss, how we recover from the end of a marriage, what our children are experiencing and what they need in the divorce, and what the needs of each member of the family after the divorce are likely to be. In this way, collaborative divorce offers constructive, comprehensive, multidisciplinary professional support that responds to the actual complexities of divorce as people experience it, rather than imposing an old-fashioned, limited institutional legal point of view as the sole perspective on a complex human experience.

Reprinted from Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move on with Your Life by Pauline H. Tesler, M.A., J.D., & Peggy Thompson, Ph.D. Copyright © 2006 Pauline H. Tesler & Peggy Thompson. Published by Regan Books; June 2006;$25.95US/$33.50CAN; 0-06-088943-8

Authors
Pauline H. Tesler, M.A., J.D., has been a specialist in family law certified by California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization since 1985. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband. www.lawtsf.com

Peggy Thompson, Ph.D., has been a licensed psychologist specializing in families and children for thirty years. For the past fifteen years, she has been actively involved in the development and practice of collaborative divorce. Peggy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband. www.cdadivorce.com

Together they confounded the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

For more information, please visit www.collaborativedivorcebook.com

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  • Posted On January 1, 2007
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