May 10, 2013

Productive Conflict Resolution in Divorce

Categories: Collaborative LawDivorce

How do you respond to a verbal “attack” from your spouse?  In all likelihood you act defensively: you make excuses for yourself and in the same sentence belittle the other person’s importance.  Your spouse then typically counter-attacks.  The vicious cycle begins and nothing is resolved.  This is unproductive conflict resolution.

Neil Denny, Collaborative Attorney, author and international speaker talks about these conversational riffs and provides an alternative.  Denny properly points out that an important job of the Collaborative professionals is to provide their clients with more productive conflict resolution skills.

The Collaborative Divorce process does just that.  Throughout the process, the professionals focus on productive conflict resolution.  For example, instead of attacking each other, the parties and professionals identify problem areas and invite positive and insightful discussion.  The professionals delve into the interests behind the problem making the problem the focus, and not the person.  It changes, “You spend too much money” with “Finances are tight.”  The process will then encourage the parties to discuss the issue asking the pertinent questions to determine further where the problem lies.  It is important that the process continue to try to delve into the problem and not immediately move to a solution.  Moving too quickly to any solution may eliminate the possibility of reaching the best solution.  The professionals will try to determine in what areas the clients agree.   After determining the problem, the interest behind the problem, the areas wherein the parties agree, the process can move to possible solutions.

This method of productive conflict resolution occurs in a safe place with professionals looking to support both of the clients, their family and futures.  Instead of a traditional negotiation process where one lawyer makes offers and counteroffers to another, the clients are actively participating in the conflict resolution process with experts in communication and conflict resolution.  These professionals keep the conversation positive and focused.  The process is not conflict or stress-free, full of flowers and sunshine.  However, it is a process that helps the conflict reach a positive resolution that will provide the parties with a roadmap to resolving present and future disagreements.

adminABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kimberly Miller,JD, MA, LAMFT

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