Divorce happens for so many reasons - the stories are all similar, but they are all so very different. Divorce can be the result of infidelity, or substance abuse, or domestic violence. Or maybe it happens after years of raising children together, and it seems there is nothing left in common when the kids are gone. Whatever it is that makes you consider divorce, it's important to understand the different ways to end a marriage.
One of the toughest, and saddest, things to accept in any failed marriage is the culpability of both parties in the breakup of the family.
Many divorcing parents are surprised to learn that their spouse, when faced with daily separation from the children, seems to suddenly take interest in mundane parenting tasks like filling prescriptions and attending regular dental checkups. Take, for example, this recent conversation between parents:
"Remember when we so badly wanted children?" he asked me a few days ago, after discussing some troubles we had been having with our now-teenaged son and daughter. We laughed. We've been divorced for almost six years, but we still have to talk about things, make arrangements for the kids and solve "kid problems" together.
There are several different types of costs when a couple is divorcing: financial, emotional and relational. I have been witness to the phenomenon of how emotional and relational costs increase the financial outlay when a couple is divorcing, in turn depleting the family's resources. During my twenty-five (25) years of practice, I have watched the pain that couples go through - emotionally, relationally and financially - and more often than not, that toll is much higher in a litigation case versus a Collaborative case. When I looked at the difference in the legal fees in two of our firm's cases with somewhat similar facts, I was not surprised to see that the fees in the litigated case were thirty-three percent (33%) higher than the fees in the Collaborative divorce case.
When a divorce happens in a family, it is never just the married couple that is affected. The parents of the bride and groom, the siblings, the aunts and uncles, even the friends of the couple: all of these people are affected by divorce. Nearly everyone will eventually choose a "side," and some might even sever ties with the side they did not choose. Children are unique in a divorce, in that, most times, they cannot choose, yet they may be the most hurt. In many divorces (with the exception of those that involve any kind of domestic violence), the children will still be involved with both parents, and they will still deeply love both Mom and Dad.
I had never heard of Collaborative Divorce until I was all of a sudden doing it myself. I really knew very little about divorce in general, because I had never been directly affected by it. I did know, however, that when the "d-word" became part of my vocabulary in the summer of 2009, I didn't want it to be a bloody battle, and I certainly didn't want my two small children to suffer.