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How to Talk About Collaborative Divorce With Your Spouse: A Guide for Difficult

Many of our clients have asked us how to talk to a husband or wife about collaborative divorce – also called collaborative process or collaborative law.

Before you approach the other person, be certain that you are physically safe to discuss divorce, legal separation or other legal matters. If you have already confirmed your case does qualify for collaborative process, then the next step is to have a discussion with them.

Collaborative process is unique because you are not telling the other person the outcome. You are addressing that there is a problem, and you believe you have found a way that the two of you can work through the problem.

The other person may still feel threatened.

Remember that when you speak to them, you may be addressing the other people they have already consulted as well.
The other person may have consulted the following people:

1. Friends and family members who are encouraging legal action
2. An attorney who does not know what collaborative process is, or an attorney who would rather proceed to court
3. Support groups or organized groups with a very specific purpose

You are speaking not only to the person in front of you, but to all those other voices they have heard.

Therefore, you need you address those voices and the doubts and fears of the person you are talking with.

What do you tell your spouse?

Here are some possible conversation points to have with your spouse.

Be sure you are safe to have a conversation like this. If you are not, consider whether you should seek protection through law enforcement.

“We both love our…” Fill in the blank.  Do you love your kids?  Your business?  Your home?  Pets?  Choose what you share that is hard to divide and would mean the world if you lost it.

“I want to protect….” and again, what do you want to protect?  Be general because talking about specifics, like that bank account ending in 5555, will devolve into a conversation about who gets bank account 5555.  Instead, say you want to protect both of your financial futures.  You want to protect your family from greedy lawyers.  You want to protect your children from the pain of your conflicts.  You want to protect against third party creditors.  You want to protect your home, or a business one of you has (which may be a business run by only one person but the community has an interest).

“I learned about this new option called collaborative law…” If you say you learned about it from a lawyer, be prepared for a lot more questions.  Who was the lawyer? (Be prepared for your spouse to attack the lawyer, no matter how credible the lawyer may be)  It may be safer to say you heard about collaborative law from a friend.  You did hear about it from a friend, because if your lawyer told you about collaborative law, they are going to feel like your friend more than your lawyer.  What is incredible to me that the opposing lawyer may feel like your friend after the collaborative process completes.

“Here is a copy of the rule, which I found through Google after some basic research…”  This offering gives credibility to this “collaborative law thing.” Now your spouse has seen a copy of the court rule. Print the rule, but do not email it, if you can avoid email.  You want your spouse to see the court rule, and you do not want your spouse to have an excuse to focus on where the rule came from. Giving your spouse a copy of a court rule also tells them that collaborative law is a real process even though it sounds like a bunch of people sitting around a bonfire:

A group of people standing around a bonfire on the beach at sunset, enjoying a warm evening together.

When it looks much more like this:

Business professionals collaborating at a table, engrossed in work on their laptops.

 

You’ll note the latte.  Courtrooms frown on lattes, but our office has a terrific Nespresso machine, or Matcha Tea, or cold brewed coffee.  We also like to stock almond milk and honey.

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