August 12, 2013

How to Turn a Divorce Process into a Healing Process

How do you turn a divorce process into a healing process? By envisioning your highest goals for what you want to accomplish during the divorce and after the divorce has ended.  This is what happens in a Collaborative Divorce process. Unlike the traditional divorce process where the focus is often what happened in the past, the collaborative divorce process focuses on the future.

At the commencement of a collaborative divorce, the divorcing couple identify and share their vision for a healthy divorce and a healthy life after divorce. Here are some of the visions couples have shared with me in my work as a Collaborative Divorce attorney.

Beth and Peter’s Vision

Children

  • For our children to see us co-parent with each other in a non-conflictive way.
  • For us to live in close proximity to each other while raising our children.
  • For us to live in stable environments while raising our children.
  • For our children’s lifestyles to be affected as little as possible by our divorce within the resources available to us (e.g., emotionally and educationally; that we continue with the educational plans we have made for our children; that our children live in the same community).
  • For our children to have as much stability and security in their lives as they require.
  • For us to be fully involved with raising our children.

Financial

  • For both households to be financially resilient.
  • For us to develop independently in terms of financial security.
  • To have the flexibility in one’s work schedule to be present with the children as their schedules require.
  • For Beth to have the opportunity to explore educational, training, and other career opportunities with the goal of becoming financially independent.
  • To respect the financial decisions made by us and our families, including the decision of Peter’s family to leave him money.

Relational

  • For us to be in a co-parenting relationship our children can count on.
  • For us to be respectful of each other into the future.
  • For us to create a new, healthy family relationship with each other.
  • For us to look back on this difficult time in our shared life and be proud of how we handled a time of conflict and communicate it to our children when the time is right.

Erin and Matt’s Vision (no children)

  • That we have confidence in the decisions we make.
  • That we make a transition to a friendly relationship when completed with the collaborative divorce process.
  • That we have a feeling of peace and resolution.
  • That we have a positive financial outcome that meets both of our needs.
  • That we both have financial security.
  • That the emotional distress of the divorce is minimized.
  • That we are able to promote cordial relationships with each other’s extended family and mutual friends.
  • That we keep in mind the possibility that Erin will move out of the State.
  • That the settlement take into consideration Erin’s need to finish school.
  • That Matt is able to remain in the homestead and maintain a reasonable budget.
  • That Erin is able to purchase a modest home and meet her living expenses.

Jeff and Ann’s Vision

  • For our children not to feel divided.
  • For our children to feel comfortable with both of us.
  • For us to convey a sense of harmony to our children.
  • To have financial security for both of us.
  • To get along with each other after the divorce; to have mutual respect for each other; and to have a pleasant relationship.

Creating a vision of the future is the key to crafting settlements that achieve those visions.  And so the healing begins.

Tonda L. MattieABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tonda Mattie

Tonda Mattie has been a Family Law attorney for over 30 years and has practiced exclusively Collaborative Family Law since 2006.  She has been involved in the Collaborative Law movement since 1992.  She has been past President and past Co-President of the Collaborative Law Institute (CLI) of Minnesota.  She has headed the CLI Training Committee as chair or co-chair since 2004.  She is engaged in the practice of her dreams using a collaborative process that 1) allows good people to be their best despite the crisis they are in; 2) is centered on the well-being of the children; 3) creates a safe environment for difficult conversations; 4) focuses on the future rather than on blame and past grievances; 5) identifies and meets the needs and interests of all family members; 6) empowers parties to control and create their own mutual settlement; and 7) creates a climate in which healing can begin to occur. Visit her website at www.mndivorce.com.

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