February 24, 2016

Collaborative Divorce – When Your Spouse Says No.

You’ve done your homework, thoroughly exploring the pros and cons of different divorce methods.  For you the choice is an easy one–collaborative divorce is the best option for your family.  But your spouse won’t consider it.   How do you convince your spouse you are right?

You don’t.  Instead of trying to convince your spouse:

1.   Be transparent about why you want to divorce collaboratively. In just a few sentences. For example,

  •  “I want to keep our finances private.” 
  •  “I’m worried about the kids.  And I don’t  want them to see us fighting anymore. We’re good parents but we could use help.”
  •  “I  respect you now and want to respect you after we’re divorced.”
  •  “I don’t want to be enemies with you but I need to have my own lawyer to help me get through this.” 
  •  “We make good  decisions together even though we can’t be married.  We should make divorce decisions  together – with some help.”
  •  “We can divorce on our own schedule, hopefully quickly.”

2.   Share what you’ve already learned and are learning about collaboration.   But not necessarily by talking about it.  Instead, share materials and information sources.  For example,

  • If you’ve met with a collaborative lawyer or other collaborative professional, she should have given you printed materials to share with your spouse.
  • Give your spouse the link to your local or state collaborative divorce groups.
  • Give your spouse the link to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  www.collaborativepractice.com.
  • Give your spouse a link to collaborative professionals in the area:  www.betterdivorcect.com; www.cccflg.com; www.collaborative-divorce.com;www.divorcesolutionsofct.com.
  • Make an appointment with a collaborative professional and invite your spouse to join you.
  • Give your spouse a list of  trained collaborative lawyers in your area.  (If you’ve met with a collaborative attorney she’s probably already given this to you.  You can find lists on the internet as well.)  Ask your spouse to make an appointment with one of these lawyers-just to get information.

 Remember, collaborative divorce is a voluntary process.  Trying too hard to convince your spouse to collaborate can feel coercive, controlling or threatening – certainly not a good way to start the collaborative divorce process even if he or she ultimately agrees to collaborate.  Collaboration values transparency and education.  Focus on transparency and education from the very start.

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