Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are keeping their divorce proceedings behind closed doors. There are numerous benefits of following their lead when it comes to working out the terms of your divorce settlement. Because of this, many couples decide that a collaborative divorce is the route for them.
. It can also save couples time and money. According to attorney Joryn Jenkins, “By the end of the divorce trial, spouses can become enemies. Litigation makes people be mean to each other. … But people usually don’t know that there’s another option, and lawyers don’t tell them.”
WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
A collaborative divorce includes a team of four people: a lawyer for each spouse, a mental health coach, and a financial professional. They all work together to create a divorce agreement which includes alimony, dividing marital property, and child visitation and support. A collaborative divorce is face-to-face while each spouse gives their opinion in order to reach emotional as well as financial and legal solutions. “The rewards of collaborative divorce are huge,” according to attorney Joryn Jenkins. “You learn to work out issues and say things in a better way.”
A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE IS SHORTER AND COSTS LESS
A collaborative divorce may save you both time and money. While a regular divorce that goes to a trial may cost $100,000, the average collaborative divorce is about $32,000. In addition to less money, the average collaborative divorce lasts three to four months to settle compared to a divorce trial that can drag on for years. Because a judge makes the final decision in a trial divorce, there isn’t much control when it comes to the process, timing, or outcome of the case. “People are raiding their retirement accounts just to pay for divorces,” said collaborative attorney Rackham Karlsson. “Going to court can be more expensive, more time intensive and corrosive for children.”
COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE A GOOD ALTERNATIVE
If a couple can work through their divorce by doing a collaborative divorce compared to a standard one, they save time and money, as well as lots of headaches.
LEARNING TO CO-PARENT
If you share children with your ex-spouse, then you’ll have to learn how to be a co-parent. And this isn’t something you’re going to have to learn how to do by yourself. You’re going to have to learn how to do it with your ex! This means you’ll have to learn how to put the best interests of your children above your own, as well as learning how to form an amicable relationship, perhaps for the first time, with your ex. While you don’t necessarily have to become best friends, you’ll have to forge a happy medium and find how you can make the co-parenting relationship work. Right now this may seem impossible, especially after what you just went through with your relationship, but you have to remember that the fault in your marriage wasn’t the fault of the child or children. They also must not be place in the middle of your emotional crossfire left over from your marriage. The key is to learn to take the high road, which means you may have to make true sacrifices for the well-being of your children.
STEP ONE IS TO REALIZE ONLY YOU ARE ABLE TO CONTROL YOU
In order to create a co-parenting relationship, you must first realize the only person you can control is yourself. You don’t have any power over your ex, so don’t even both trying. If you can accept this fact and are able to control your own emotions and actions, you’ll have an easier time developing a co-parenting relationship. Hopefully your example will carry over to your ex-spouse.
STEP TWO IS TO SET BOUNDARIES
The next step you must learn in order to create a successful co-parenting relationship is how to set boundaries. Hise are a few do’s and don’t’s to help you get started. Don’t:
- Sabotage the relationship your child has with their other parent.
- Use your child as a pawn to hurt or get back at your ex.
- Permit your child to speak badly when talking about the other parent.
- Use your child to get information, manipulate, and/or influence your ex.
- Transfer onto your child your hurt feelings and/or frustrations toward your ex.
- Force your child to choose a side whose scheduling conflicts occur.
- Put pressure on your child.
- Depend on your child for companionship or support too much when dealing with your divorce. Your child isn’t your therapist.
- Become so emotionally needy your child begins to feel guilty about spending time with others. You would hate to discover they didn’t participate in social outings due to the fact they were afraid you weren’t able to deal with being alone.
Bottom line: Your child should not be burdened with situations they aren’t able to control. You shouldn’t saddle your children with your issues and emotional needs. Doing so will only create feelings of being helpless and insecure which could cause them to doubt their own abilities and strengths. It’s not their responsibility to hold you together and they shouldn’t feel it is. Children aren’t able to understand and deal with problems of adults and shouldn’t have to. Their focus should be on their own development, and your’s should be, too. Do’s:
- Sit down with your ex and create a plan whereby differences are set aside so the focus can be put on meeting the needs of your children you will be co-parenting.
- Negotiate how to handle holidays, visitations, and events.
- Create guidelines for behavior of raising your children that each of you will adhere to. Children need consistency in their lives without regard as to which parent they’re with. This includes bed-times, phone privileges, etc. A child will frequently test situations and try to manipulate their boundaries. You and your ex must present a united front.
- Negotiate the roles of extended family members.
- Establish open communication with respect to the development of your child. This includes the ability to compare notes on situations and jointly deciding on any punishment.
- While it may be painful emotionally, you and your ex must decide to inform each other ob any changes in circumstances of their life. Your child shouldn’t be the source of “breaking news.”
- Determine that you’ll conduct yourself with emotional integrity and maturity.
WHAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS THE MOST
Putting your child’s needs first, there are certain things they’ll need during this time: structure, acceptance, assurance of their safety, freedom from blame or guilt that they were responsible for their parent’s divorce, two stable parents, and the freedom and permission to just be a kid and have fun.
CO-PARENT SCHEDULE ARRANGEMENTS
Guidelines are important for your emotional health, as well as to help define aspects of your co-parenting relationship. This is why schedules are important. Not necessarily a weekly one, but one that involves events and holidays. This schedule should be agreed on far in advance so that co-parents know what parent the child will be spending Christmas and other holidays with in order to avoid fights during the holidays. These agreements don’t have to be formal, but if they’re in writing it makes it harder to argue about. There are a number of online tools available to assist you in creating a co-parenting schedule.
ALWAYS BE FLEXIBLE
While it’s important to set arrangements, you need to be sensitive to your child’s needs, which means being flexible. If your child really wants to have a night with dad instead of mom, then it might be best for your child to do it. This is a difficult time your kids are trying to adapt to. You should encourage them to be honest when it comes to their emotions. You also should be sensitive to your child emotions, which often means putting your own emotions aside.
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