It's that day again, one of the most difficult holidays for those facing or going through the process of a divorce: Valentine's Day.
A recent study has revealed a 40% increase in divorce filings around Valentine's Day in the past two years. For those experiencing the season of upheaval of divorce, the holiday has nothing to do with roses and candy. Most in this situation have gone beyond asking the question "Is my partner right for me?" and are now asking, "What am I going to do next?" Luckily, for some there is another question to be asked, one that can help alleviate some of the stress of the usual divorce process: is collaborative divorce the right choice for me?
Many divorce clients have described feeling trapped in their situations, as if they have lost control. Court dates and conflict become the new norm, and it seems that their lives and those of their children are at the mercy of the system.
The collaborative process can make some of the toughest parts of divorce a little easier. (See Collaborative Divorce: A Different Way to Divorce). The factors below will help determine if you and your spouse are good candidates for divorce using the collaborative model. If you find yourselves in any one or more of the following categories, you may want to consider moving forward collaboratively:
- You wish to protect your children and your family from the harmful effects of a high-conflict dispute.
- You and your spouse will be co-parenting together and want to establish the best co-parenting relationship possible for the future.
- You value privacy in your personal affairs and do not want the details of your family restructuring to be available on the public court docket.
- You and your spouse have a circle of friends and family in common that you both want to remain connected to.
- You value control and autonomous decision-making and do not want to hand over decisions about restructuring your financial or child custody arrangements to a judge.
- You understand that conflict resolution involves achieving not only your goals, but finding a way to achieve the reasonable goals of the other person.
The collaborative process takes dedication and commitment, but most clients who experience divorce through this model consider it well worth the effort. Avoiding the court process is a major benefit for some, but even more, collaborative divorce helps minimize conflict and negativity by encouraging communication between you and your spouse within a structured setting and with experienced attorneys present. Divorce is never easy, but when you choose the collaborative model, you can experience more flexibility as you go through the process.
If you are interested in learning more about collaborative divorce, please visit the website of the Collaborative Practitioners of Central Pennsylvania (CPCP) or the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP).
Julie Miller is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Dickinson School of Law and practices in a variety of areas including Collaborative Law and traditional Family Law.