As 2018 begins, I give life to a notion I’ve had for a while. I’m always trying to express what I try to help people to do as they bring their marriage to an end.
I’ve chosen to no longer do any litigation work, so I only work with people who understand that what they need to do is to come together in order to separate as a married couple.
Some people need very little help in doing so. For them I offer myself as a Mediator / Third Party Neutral. I don’t ‘represent’ either party, so I can’t give advice on whether any particular proposal is ‘good’ for either of them.
Some couples need more help and guidance and perhaps even advice about ‘what should I agree to’. For those, I join with other Collaborative Practice professionals to form a ‘team’ so that each spouse has his/her own attorney and we can add other professionals based on the support needs the couple may have.
With either support system, I simply see myself as helping the couple as they are “Divorcing Together”. Hence a new tagline and image are born. 🙂
There are a number of topics that you two have to discuss and reach agreement upon in connection with the ending of your marital relationship. Some are legal, but frankly, many of them are financial and all of them have the potential for being very emotional. That’s why in Collaborative Practice we offer professionals with expertise in each of these areas as part of a team that can best outline and clarify the complicated things and can best help you each to work through the emotions of the experience and help you with solid ideas of what actually is in the best interests of YOUR children.
In this video, prepared by our good friends in Ontario, you’ll see a nice overview of each of the available team members and how their presence benefits you and makes the process more efficient.
The divorce process is one of discussions leading to decisions. The discussions and decisions are best if they are jointly held and made. How difficult this is depends on who the two people are. How much and what kind of support do you two need to have the discussions? to embrace a perspective in those discussions that will result in decisions you can both live and continue to work with?
The image that comes into my head is of the difference between a Shepherd and a Sherpa.
Sheep are considered ‘stupid’ and shepherds are necessary because the sheep get so caught up in what they ‘want’ in this moment [o, look, a blade of grass!] that they don’t see danger and won’t even realize where they’ve gotten to and thus are lost. But other than driving them where s/he thinks they ‘should be’ and keeping the wolves at bay, the shepherd doesn’t do much for the sheep.
The sherpa on the other hand is there to support travelers who know where they want to go and are willing to even make their own decisions on the path to follow to get there. The sherpa offers support for THAT journey. The sherpa may decline to take them on that path, but isn’t there to tell them they ‘have to go’ this other way.
Litigation assumes people are fundamentally stupid and need to be managed [the self-serving term that is used is ‘protected’] or they will get eaten alive. Collaborative Practice presumes people can work together and make decisions, though some need some support.
I will always encourage and offer support that I believe might help you on the path you have chosen. I will explain to you how I believe that it might help. I will never tell you “that’s just how it’s done”.
I might decide that I choose to not stay on that path with you if you decide against the help. That doesn’t mean your decision is in any way ‘wrong’.
I am not a shepherd. I won’t treat you like a sheep.