April 30, 2013

What’s All This Fuss About Interests?

ID-10018139In my Collaborative Divorce practice, I frequently talk to clients about identifying their “interests” in the divorce.  This is a difficult concept to understand, but is the key to reaching a resolution in a divorce that meets the needs of all family members.

“Interests” are in contrast to “positions” in the divorce.  An interest is the motivation or value behind a particular position.  An interest is frequently inspirational and may be far broader than a position.  A position is a particular outcome.  The difference between an interest and a position is frequently illustrated by the following story.

Two children were arguing over who would have the last orange in the kitchen.  They each took the “position” that the orange should be theirs.  Their argument included angry cries of “You had the last orange!” or “I was here first.”  Unable to resolve the dispute without resorting to blows, they brought the issue to their mother.  The obvious solution is for Mom to slice the orange in half and give each child one-half of the orange.  Seems like a good outcome, doesn’t it?  But at this suggestion the children were even unhappier.  So, instead, she asked each child what he or she wanted to do with the orange.  The first child replied, “I want to bake a cake.  I need the zest of the orange to add to the batter.”  The second child said, “I want to make orange juice.”  He needed the juice and the pulp of the orange.  Obviously, by understanding the underlying interests of each child, it was determined that both children could get what they wanted—the rind for a cake and the juice for orange juice.

In collaborative divorce, this is called a win-win outcome.  Win-win outcomes are possible when interests are identified and the interests of all parties are met.

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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One Response to What’s All This Fuss About Interests?

  1. dan says:

    Helpful article. Tonda is a great advocate of the Collaborative Law movement.

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