Divorce is a painful time no matter whether you are the one to initiate the process or you are the one who is reluctantly dragged through the process. You and your spouse together have the choice of how to go about ending your marriage and moving into a better space. The following are three ways to feel you have control of the process and its outcome.
- Educate yourselves about your divorce process options. One way to do that is to attend a Divorce Options Workshop put on monthly by Collaborative Practice groups in counties around the state. Then decide which option will work best for you and your spouse.
- Interview attorneys and other professionals whom you expect to have help you make agreements for the finances and your children’s care. Ask about their commitment to out-of-court processes, such as Collaborative Practice, where the ultimate goal is to reach agreements that you can each honor. No matter the process you choose, look for professionals who are qualified members of a Collaborative Practice group. They have most likely committed to practice standards and ongoing training. These professionals are also the most likely to follow a shared model for Collaborative representation and to have made the effort to become trained as effective Collaborative professionals. Research has shown that one of the best predictors of a good divorce process and outcome is the selection by divorcing spouses of two attorneys who respect one another and have a good track record of settling cases together and working together effectively to help clients reach creative, respectful solutions.
- Do everything in your power to reduce conflict between you and your spouse. Enlist a neutral financial professional to gather your financial information and supporting documentation, provide the results in understandable formats, educate both of you as needed on the finances, and help you understand the financial and tax consequences of your ideas for settlement. Enlist divorce coaches to help you create a parenting plan that will carry you through the different stages of your children’s development. Divorce coaches can also help you deal specifically with the emotions connected to the divorce process and provide effective communication tools. For more help, one or both of you might seek relief from your pain and disappointment from a licensed mental health professional. If you select the Collaborative Divorce process, tell your friends and family that you know they love you and want the best for you and that you are getting the information and advice you need to sit down and have the difficult conversations with your spouse so that you can to create a good life for yourself. This will empower you and make you feel successful.
Judith F. Sterling is a CPA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and Collaborative Financial Specialist practicing in Sonoma and Marin Counties.
photo credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.