September 10, 2015

Healthy Divorce

174920343-not-talking-each-other-gettyimagesMore and more of those who find themselves in the reality of divorce are becoming aware of the possibility that it can at least be healthy. When we consider the word “healthy” we often think of eating healthy. Yet, when we search the internet to discover what is actually healthy nutrition we quickly see that is not an easy task. For almost anything that is touted as being healthy, we can usually find another point of view that proclaims it to be bad.

Another common topic is a healthy life style. Once again, we see the choices for a healthy life style are extensive, and what is offered as healthy from one source may be challenged as harmful by someone else. The problem we most often face is not that we do not have enough information to make a decision – we often have too much information.

No one marries with the expectation that it will fail, despite Rita Rudner’s comment that when we are looking for the right partner we should ask ourselves whether this is the person we want visiting our children every other week.

Despite our wishes, the National Survey of Family Growth’ data tells us that 20% of marriages end in the first five years, and close to half of all marriages end within 20 years.
Statistics, however, are of no help when it comes to actually managing our affairs. What we do know is that divorce is frequently listed as the most stressful event of a lifetime, right behind the death of a loved one. There are many considerations that affect how MY divorce will affect ME. If I am the person seeking the divorce my experience is likely to be quite different from the person who is being left. If we have children – especially younger children – how they will be affected also contributes to the stress we have.

So, perhaps the most significant aspect of divorce is whether we are so driven by our emotions that we are unable to work together. Recognizing this basic reality, it is almost always a good choice to immediately seek professional counseling to help guide us through this process. It is especially challenging to participate in a task that has such profound consequences and requires strength to operate from our highest functioning self. Good professionals are invaluable in this process. When children are involved both parties may be called to their highest functioning self out of their love for their children. But even when there are no children, it is still the best alternative to reach.

The strength of the collaborative law model is that the entire process is structured to support parties during difficult times. The attorneys are trained negotiators who are committed to supporting the parties by keeping the divorce out of the family court system while the parties can move through the process to reach a mutually agreed upon resolution. When children are involved, the use of a neutral child specialist provides assurance that the real best interests of the children are met. Children must always be at the center of the process, but never in the middle. These specialists are also specifically trained to work within the collaborative model to keep the matter out of court until agreements can be reached.

A trained mental health professional functioning as a coach provides oversight for the whole process to help assure that it continues to function for the best interests of the whole family. They provide expertise that is different from all the other team members, and are particularly adept at helping the parties through difficult times.

The financial aspects of the marriage are perhaps the most critical to the process. Most people are able to work cooperatively with respect to their children, but property matters can often be the most challenging to manage. These professionals also are trained within the collaborative model and are committed in their role to assist in finding equitable solutions.

Precisely because each divorce is unique in itself, the amount of time necessary to accomplish a healthy divorce can vary widely. Many people are able to reach conclusion in six to nine months, while others, though well meaning and dedicated to the process, may take several years to arrive at a comfortable conclusion.

A healthy divorce can only be recognized at the conclusion. When each party is secure in knowing what their future will look like, and comfortable in knowing how that will happen, they can leave the marriage at their highest functioning self. It is always healthy to occupy our highest functioning self.

Bruce Peck

Bruce is one of the founding members of the Collaborative Law Institute.
Back in the Wonder Years, this small group was trying to figure out what a new way of practicing family law might look like. Today the collaborative law concept has exploded, not just throughout the United States, but also internationally. For over thirty years Bruce has continued to hone his skills to provide the highest quality of services to family law clients. He helps good people make tough choices during difficult times.

Bruce is a laid back and easy going person who listens well to others. He is a shameless optimist who can always see possibility and opportunity. Being very curious by nature, he is a voracious reader. His love for words has drawn him into being an avid poet.

Bruce’s skills supports clients interests without alienating their spouse. When the parties reach agreement, it is not under duress. They have the time to discuss all decisions with their attorneys before signing the agreement. Once completed, the stipulated divorce is filed with the court for a default hearing in which neither party, nor their attorneys, ever have to set foot inside a courthouse. Learn more at

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