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Posted on July 9, 2016 by Deirdre Prestage Severide in Featured, Family Law Some would say that a healthy divorce is an oxymoron! We believe and have seen in our practice that divorce does not have to be adversarial and destructive to relationships and families. Too often people believe that divorcing means fighting, hiding, hating, yelling……..and in the traditional way of resolving these matters in the court process we often experienced this behavior. It doesn’t have to be so! There is a healthier way to restructure your lives going through a separation and divorce – not just for you but also, and perhaps more importantly, for your children.

In the traditional way of resolving these matters in the court process, there is little to no communication between the spouses. Communication is generally through the lawyers in a very adversarial process where the goal is to win – to win means that the other spouse loses! And when the court process is over these spouses often are ill-equipped to co-parent their children moving forward. The result is often a broken family with depleted resources and fractured relationships. Communication has totally broken down and is often never restored for this couple and family. In the collaborative divorce process, the collaborative professionals strive to create a “safe environment” throughout. The parties and their lawyers commit at the outset in a Participation Agreement to respectful and honest communication in a non-adversarial manner. Within this “safe environment” we often experience spouses speaking openly and honestly to the other which allows each of them to really “hear” the other spouse. It is when each spouse can appreciate the perspective of the other spouse that durable agreements are achieved. This results only when the negotiating environment allows for and promotes honest and respectful communication. It isn’t always easy in the collaborative divorce process. Often we are dealing with emotions and anger and to move forward the spouses need to learn how to manage these emotions and this anger. We know that it isn’t easy listening to someone you disagree with. In the collaborative divorce process, we work with divorce coaches who are counsellors or psychologists trained in the collaborative model. The coaches are skilled at helping the spouses to manage these emotions and to learn how to communicate more effectively. Many times, after working with the divorce coaches, the spouses are surprised at how their communication has improved and is much more effective. They often have a greater understanding of the behavior of the other spouse. Imagine how more effective these spouses will be in co-parenting their children in the future. So, as you can see healthy communication is critical to a healthy divorce. In the traditional adversarial court process, no attention is paid to communication between the spouses or, more importantly, how to improve it. In the collaborative divorce process, the collaborative professionals work with the parties throughout to ensure that healthy communication is a foundation from which to build their resolution. Collaborative divorce professionals are determined to change the way that people separate and divorce. Our goal is to assist spouses and families to reach a “healthy divorce”.


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