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Strategies needed to avoid trouble in a collaborative divorce

Divorce doesn't have to be a battle between you and your spouse.

In a collaborative divorce, the two of you can work together to end your marriage on relatively friendly terms by sitting together in a conference room instead of a courtroom. While each party still works with an attorney, it's less expensive than litigating your divorce. Moreover, you likely will stay on friendlier terms, which is essential if you have children.

Still, for collaborative divorce to work, there are some roadblocks you might need to remove.

  1. Anticipate certain sticking points by looking back at your marriage. How, as a couple, did you handle conflict in the past? Did it become hostile? What were the triggers to problems? Before beginning the collaborative process, you and your spouse must vow to be better communicators, problem solvers and compromisers to avoid repeating past conflicts.
  2. Look for warning signs that your spouse is becoming perturbed. Pay attention to their body language and be careful with your own. You know your spouse - and yourself -- better than anyone else, so you will know when it's time to take a break before the discussion gets off track.
  3. If you reach the point that your spouse becomes angry, don't respond in anger. That will make things worse. Watch your instinct to respond. Ask for a quick break and take a short walk. Remind yourself that arguing isn't productive.
  4. Don't let your spouse agitate you on purpose. They might toss out an insult or accusation to get you to take the bait. Take a break so that you don't respond negatively. You might need to end the session and take time to consult with your attorney, therapist or a friend before the next meeting. Use your support system to help you make good decisions and achieve your goals without harming the other person - or allowing yourself to be harmed. That could derail the process, and you must remember your goal, such as staying on friendly terms for your children.

Collaborative divorce is a win-win for your family -- and for you. It's good to know the potential pitfalls as you enter the process. An attorney experienced in collaborative divorce can let you know just what to expect as you enter the process.

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