Is it possible to separate or divorce in a Collaborative way?

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Is it possible to separate or divorce in a Collaborative way?

The start of a new year is filled with the promises of new beginnings. It’s also the most popular time for couples to separate or file for divorce.

There’s usually a journey with many stumbling blocks and relationship cracks that get you to this point. Issues accumulated over months or years like a catalogue of misdemeanours, pop up as a reminder of irritating imperfections. Women are particularly good at remembering every detail with astonishing accuracy (real or perceived) leaving men open mouthed struggling to remember if they were even in the same room at the time.

Tension and stress escalate, communication breaks down, resentment builds, anger increases, and power battles take over, surfacing all the unresolved disputes of the past. Treading on eggshells or pretending all is well may have been a workable option, until the cracks can no longer be avoided.   

Many couples hang on for years in this cycle of denial or avoidance in the hope it will somehow work out, or until the right moment presents itself. For some this could be when the children go off to university or leave the nest.

I’ve worked with many couples and individuals who are or have been hanging on in a toxic or loveless relationship for the sake of the children. Equally, I’ve worked with many individuals who grew up in those turbulent households. Others had childhoods that on the surface seemed idyllic until they reached eighteen, and their parents announced they were separating, that they had only stayed together because of the children.

They carry the burden of their parent’s relationship and the feeling they’ve lived a lie  

Recognising your relationship has reached an end can be tough, regardless of whether you have children. It’s easier to hide behind a smoke screen of perfection, such as material possessions, work or social life whilst behind the scenes the connection you once had has crumbled. Start by being honest with you – is the relationship working for you? What is missing? Can you see a way forward together? Could you work through your differences and regain what you once had? If the answer is no, then it’s time to be honest with your partner.

As I said, separating isn’t easy. It’s a time filled with emotion, sadness, anger, stress and often blame. It’s in our nature to blame the other to make us feel better about ourselves.

Take responsibility for your share

Taking responsibility for your share of what hasn’t worked, without attributing specifics, and show gratitude for the good you’ve had together may feel like something from a fairy-tale. Especially if you’re hurting.

The power of this simple and yet incredibly challenging place where both gratitude and accountability meet, will give you a stronger sense of inner peace without blame… even if you’re hurting.

This will allow you to separate in a more constructive and adult-like way then going into battle where there are no winners.

Separating the Collaborative way

The Collaborative Family Law approach of separation and divorce is a process not many people know about. It enables you and your partner to reach a mutually agreed solution without involving the Court.

Many people mistake it for mediation – it’s NOT mediation.

Each party chooses a qualified Collaborative Solicitor who will support and guide you through the challenges of separating. Together (you and your respective lawyers) will discuss and agree on the best way forward, including any child arrangements.

The collaborative approach is very client-focused. It’s not driven by a solicitor’s agenda but by your own. It is a far less formal process and a much less stressful way of dealing with your important issues, and far more cost effective.

Benefits of Collaborative Family Law:

  • The pain of the separation is not increased by the legal process;
  • The costs will generally be significantly less than going to Court;
  • You will have the support of your own collaborative solicitor and other professional advisers as and when you need them, throughout the process;
  • When the threat of Court is removed, the fear, delays, uncertainty, stress and animosity is reduced, and maybe removed altogether;
  • It’s your agenda – so you talk about the things that matter to you most;
  • You set the pace and you are not working to Court timetables. Most times only a couple of meetings are needed, in other cases it could be three, four or five meetings. You will decide how frequently and how many meetings happen;
  • You maintain some direct contact with your former partner. That way, you have the best chance of understanding each other, and finding the right solutions;
  • If children are involved, you will both remain parents, and it will help your children to cope better with your separation if they see that you are able to agree the arrangements for them and for the future. Child arrangements can also be mutually agreed;
  • When specialist advice or support is needed, a single ‘fifth’ neutral can be brought into the process. Their advice is shared directly and openly within a meeting; questions can be raised directly and the possibility of misunderstanding, misinformation and conflicting advice is substantially reduced.

In couple’s sessions, my aim is to help and support people through their communication breakdown and manage their differences constructively so they can find an harmonious way of relating. Occasionally, it’s very clear that the relationship is past repair. I’m honest with the couple about what I see and will challenge them to explore what they really want instead. If separation is their choice, I will recommend the Collaborative Family Law process.

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If you relate to what you’ve read and would like help, contact Carla Devereux on 0121 745 9044 to book an appointment.   

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