July 25, 2014

The Principle of Empowerment II

In my last post I talked about the principle of empowerment that has emerged within collaborative law, and how it has shaped the collaborative professional community that now extends all around the world. In this post I would like to talk about how the emerging principle of empowerment serves people who choose to use the collaborative model.

When we created this new possibility in 1990 we shifted the paradigm away from the adversarial model which relies largely on use of the court process. We felt that people seeking divorce services should have the option of hiring attorneys who would agree to keep them out of court until they had reached a settlement that could be submitted to the court for approval and entry. To be more accurate, we created the possibility for the couple to be in charge of the agreements they reached, which depends, of course, upon their capacity to negotiate an agreement that would meet each of their needs.

In some cases a couple’s relationship may have an inherent power imbalance through some level of agreement that permits one person to exert control over the other partner. Such a circumstance raises red flags about the appropriateness of the collaborative model.

When this happens the collaborative model can sometimes overcome this provided there is a clear awareness by both parties of this imbalance and an agreement to abide by the collaborative process is intentionally chosen. It is also important that at least one, but more likely two, collaborative coaches be employed to support the couple and monitor the process. These cases seem to be becoming less common than they once were.

What is becoming increasingly more common are couples who have adopted a strong personal growth path in their lives. People who are engaged in the question of what it means to be human, and are mindful how their lives unfold are beginning to emerge. For such people, the collaborative process provides a unique opportunity to enhance their experience and support them in significant ways. People with such an orientation often view challenges like divorce as an opportunity for growth and healing.

People who are intentionally working on a personal growth path most likely will have adopted the principle of accepting personal responsibility for what occurs in their life. The immediate benefit of this advanced functioning is that neither person will waste time blaming their partner for the divorce.

The collaborative process honors each person. It identifies and values all assets and debts, and creates a safe container within which multiple options can be created, discussed and explored. Each person assumes responsibility for making sure the choices work for them. Both the couple and their assembled team of professionals can create, through synergy, a positive final result. Everyone benefits from participating in a process that based upon high ideals. Synergy is a form of empowerment.

This aspect of empowerment creates what has come to be called authentic power, a commitment to high ideals that benefit each person by providing a healing through conflict that augments their personal growth. This also supports them in participating in their communities in integrity. For people who see something greater than themselves, it becomes a spiritual process.

One aspect of the collaborative process that promotes this is the option for creating a closing ceremony by the couple at the close of their ‘unmarrying’. Such a ceremony may release each other from their marriage vows. There is an integrity in doing this that remains outside the awareness of most people who go through divorce. Such a ritual might also extend forgiveness to each other for the ways in which each failed to live up to their marriage contract, and wishing each other well in the future.

For couples who have children of their marriage, there is no greater gift they can give than the gift of healing. It is a powerful modeling of a high functioning life.

Even where there are no children of the marriage this is still the right thing to do.

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 www.BrucePeckLawOffice.com

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