This is the final post in the series about Potential Settlement Pitfalls and how the Collaborative Divorce Process is structured to better address these. (See Part I here and Parts II & III here)
We will talk about Pitfall 4: Letting Emotions Rule
I think this is the most important issue in divorce and the ability to address it wholly is the greatest strength of the Collaborative Divorce Process. As I tell my clients, divorce is 80% emotional, 10% financial and 10% legal. In a litigated divorce, lawyers tend to breeze over the emotional issues for several reasons: they stand to make more money if emotional issues go unresolved and the parties continue to fight, it is easier to go along with client requests to “hurry up and finish” the divorce rather than work through the issues, and finally, the attorneys benefit from having “repeat customers” when the unresolved emotional issues cause the parties to return time and time again for post-judgment issues since they never learned to communicate effectively.
The Collaborative Divorce Process is the only method for divorce whose structure allows for dealing with the emotional issues along with everything else. Working with a divorce coach, even if it is just one meeting, is invaluable in helping couples recognize what these issues are and how to address them moving forward. The coaches are not therapists and their aim is not to get the couple to reconcile. Rather, the goal of the coaches is to help both parties get to a point where they can make important decisions rationally. Divorces are so difficult because people are expected to make calculated, well thought out decisions which affect the rest of their lives and their children during one of the most emotionally chaotic experiences they will ever have. Understanding the emotions and working through them helps people be able to focus more on the future and better grasp the long term implications of the decisions made during the divorce process.
Furthermore, when there are children involved, the couple will have to continue to function effectively as co-parents years after the divorce is over. The divorce coaches can work with both parties, together and individually, to teach them how to break toxic communication spirals that have so often become the norm. So when bumps in the road to occur, the parties are far better equipped to handle them in a constructive manner. Once the parties learn how to avoid falling into the same dysfunctional patterns and allowing their buttons to be pushed, and how to communicate in an effective way, they are able to focus on the needs of their children.