Many couples who have come to parting think that because the well of their marriage is so polluted by anger, strife and bitterness – in short, that because conflict has poisoned the marriage at its roots – a collaborative divorce cannot work and traditional court battle is their only way out. A collaborative divorce can be particularly beneficial to both partners even when the level of acrimony is very high because it improves communication.
Communication means seeing and grasping the other person’s point of view. Instead of rehashing every problem in their marriage – often the same issues over and over – the collaboration opens a window to talk about these issues in a way that permits both sides to sit and listen to the other spouse’s point of view and to be heard in a different way. Collaborative divorce makes for improved communication.
The goal of litigation is to win, not to communicate or understand a former spouse. In the collaborative setting, we allow for greater levels of discussion between the parties as to what is most important to them and why. Eventually, agreements reached are written into a legally binding document anyway, but collaborative divorce does not sweep angry feelings under the rug.
Moreover, the collaboration moves the spouses forward, and does not place blame for past mistakes. The goal of collaboration is to find how both sides can be happy in the future and move on with their lives.
Couples who have had an extremely difficult marriage need not agree about who is most at fault. Instead, they need to agree on terms and conditions that each can accept. Collaboration works best when both spouses want to move forward as painlessly as possible and without spending tens of thousands of dollars and years in court fighting a bitter litigation battle.
Some people are not good candidates for a collaborative divorce. Some individuals are so bitter and twisted about their failed marriages that they are more interested in making a former spouse miserable that in being happy themselves. These people normally move straight into litigation because the collaborative process is about reaching agreements both spouses can live with.