Is an amicable divorce, or uncontested divorce, the same thing as a conscious uncoupling? And is conscious uncoupling even possible?
The answer is yes, but it’s a yes with strings attached. We have a list of steps you can take to reach this result. The mob rules on these out of court divorce options, because there are at least 3,600 searches a month on Google for a “conscious uncoupling.”
People will walk into my office and ask, “is it possible to have an out of court, amicable divorce?” Or they say, ” we are hoping to have an uncontested divorce.” “We want to make it friendly, or as friendly as possible.” “We don’t want to destroy our kids.” “Is all of this even possible?” they ask.
This is like walking into a sushi restaurant and saying, “I want raw fish, white rice, seaweed and wasabi – can you make me something like that?” It has a name: Sushi.
The out of court, amicable, uncontested, friendly divorce where you don’t destroy your kids has a name: Collaborative Process.
You may be thinking, “I don’t want to destroy my kids, but I want to make them see how bad the other parent is.” That’s called destroying your kids. You’re talking about convincing your children of the negative consequences of loving one-half their own DNA. Telling your a ten year-old that the person who contributed one-half their DNA is somehow terrible is, well, terrible. A ten year-old doesn’t have any comprehension of the layers and intricacies of adult relationships. A ten year-old understands people fall in love. She’s not ready to understand why they fall out of love.
This is a great segue to the steps to collaborative process:
Step 1: Get over your anger.
Getting over anger is so very hard to do, especially as you are facing a divorce. I have had to swallow hurts in my life, but if you can’t swallow hurt, I don’t blame you. Hurt, and the rage that hurt can produce, is really not an easy pill to swallow. Getting over anger is important, though. Anger has its purpose, but the modern world we live in mandates that anger have a certain expiration date.
“From an evolutionary standpoint, the high energy and aggressive posture that come with anger make lots of sense. If you have to fight off a foe, then yelling and using physical force can be useful. In the modern world, though–where so many of our goals are conceptual and no amount of physical force can help us solve our problems–anger can be less useful, to say the least,” writes Art Markman, PhD is a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.
Bearing the unbearable in a divorce is counterintuitive, but Miller Law Group in New York has a wonderful list of suggestions:
It can be comforting to know that your story, your life, will continue forward. And this is merely one turn in the long road. Remind yourself of that with a good historical documentary or biography or even a novel. Life has many chapters, and this is just one of them.
What a validating way to reflect on your situation. Can you get past the anger? You can start to examine where things went wrong and how to make them right. Conscious uncoupling doesn’t happen overnight. It likely took several dates to bring you to a place where you agreed to marry your spouse. Your marriage won’t be dismantled immediately.
Step 2: Consult a Collaborative Lawyer.
If you need to know where to find a collaborative lawyer, look no further than www.bestlegalchoices.com. Best Legal Choices isn’t a law firm. Best Legal Choices simply exists so you can make the very, absolute best legal choice in a situation that impacts you legally, financially and emotionally. There are three divorces, and you want experts who can guide you through a time in your life where you feel shut down, scared, angry, contemplative, regretful – and all in an hour. Louise Livesay, an attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota, explains the various emotional and mental places people may be experiencing in describing the pre-divorce consultation:
If you’re not sure that divorce is the next step, but you know that something needs to change, a pre-divorce consultation offers you information about the divorce process and your options. If you know that you need a divorce, but want to educate yourself and be in control of the process, a pre-divorce consultation can empower you to make the best decisions for you and your family. Even if a couple agrees a divorce is necessary, they may be at different stages in terms of readiness to accept that the marriage is ending. Pre-divorce consultation offers them the opportunity to get on the same page, so that when the divorce does take place they are both ready to move forward with their lives.
It’s true that people move through divorce and pre-divorce processes at different rates. Some people “circle the drain” for a long time in deciding to divorce.
Step 3: Talk to your Spouse about Collaborative Law.
Before you talk to your spouse, ensure you, your children and pets are safe. If you are in an abusive situation, talking to your spouse about divorce could literally be a life or death experience. This article is written for people who are not in abusive situations, or situations where they fear they will be physically or emotionally mistreated.
Steven E. Blumenthal, P.A., a divorce lawyer in Florida, suggests that you talk to your spouse and explain that collaborative divorce is but one option to consider. Collaborative divorce is a way to keep the costs down, and to stay out of court. Appeal to your spouse that this is a less nasty and combative way of approaching your issues. And remember, this is something that you can do before you ever decide whether you will divorce.
Be prepared for a host of responses, warns Waggoner Hastings LLC, a collaborative divorce firm in Georgia:
Some spouses will threaten to take all of the money or take away the children. These threats are normally just scare tactics and are completely unrealistic. Times like these are when you need an experienced divorce attorney to explain the realities of alimony, child support and spousal support so you will know which threats to ignore and which to take seriously.
Remember as you approach your spouse that they are very afraid, and they haven’t had the same amount of time to consider this process as you have. Some spouses hire a litigation attorney from a place of pure fear. Fear doesn’t allow people to think clearly, cautions Calabrese Budner, a Collaborative Divorce lawyer in Dallas, Texas:
Let your spouse know that you too share those anxieties; it is vitally important to you that you are all protected. When a marriage ends, part of the grieving process naturally includes feeling mad, sad, and conflicted. And not everyone has heard of Collaborative Divorce.
If your spouse tells you that you’ll lose your kids forever, your spouse is throwing out empty threats. They need to revisit Step 1, which may not have yet crossed their radar. People move through divorce and pre-divorce processes at different rates of pace. It could take them longer than you’d expect to get past the anger. If they can’t shed the anger, you may not ever get to step 4. This is why it is so vitally important that you behave with integrity before you ever enter the collaborative divorce process, writes Miller Law Group:
Why should you be the bigger person? Are you supposed to ignore personal attacks? It’s icing on an already bitter cake, and it may be too much to swallow. Don’t despair. Find the right coping tools, and you can draw from reserves of empathy and learn to respect again, even in a tense dispute.
Step 4: Entering a Collaborative Divorce Case.
The really interesting part of collaborative process is that all over the United States, the steps to entering a collaborative law case are the same.
Have you and your spouse agreed to enter collaborative process? You’ll want to review the participation agreement, writes Bray, Chappell, Patterson & Olsen, LLP. Once that has been completed, you will want to decide as a team which professionals are right for your needs. If you have a 15 year old, chances are you know exactly how she feels about each of her parents. But with a 2 year old, you’ll likely want input from an experienced child specialist like DJ Gaughan or Heidi Quinlan.
Next, Bray, Chappell, Patterson & Olsen lays out the overall framework that we see in each case:
- Exploring and understanding each spouse’s interests and concerns
- Addressing interim issues
- Gathering all information necessary to make good decisions
- Understanding the value of each marital asset (may require a neutral appraiser)
- Creative problem-solving
- Negotiating agreement
- Finalizing and signing legal documents
In my collaborative cases, we typically see about 3-4 meetings. Some people think that collaborative law is too expensive, but have they seen the price tag of litigation? The fear of writing a blank check only to fight with your spouse may be why up to 80% of people self-represent in Maricopa County. Many people also tell me they don’t trust attorneys, and fear lawyers will only escalate the conflict. The problem is that too many people are not aware, and not being told, that collaborative law is an option. If you are told collaborative law is not an option, have you considered a second opinion? An experienced collaborative lawyer can perhaps shed light on your situation.
I’m convinced there is a better way, a way that empowers you to be legally represented and emerge with as few battle scars as possible. After all, you’ll want to look and feel beautiful for the next chapter of your life. Call me today to talk about whether conscious uncoupling is an option for you.