Marjorie JamesLast week, I started my discussion of a marvelous article in The Seattle Times Pacific NW section. In this article, Collaborative law was identified as the way to “do divorce” in a dignified way. The article never said the practice of “good divorce” was easy, but it did highlight the long-term benefits for the couple and the rest of the family.

Divorcing couples need to be aware of the impact of their action on the rest of the family – the grandparents, siblings, and nieces and nephews – and their close friends. Kristin, whose divorce was final five years ago says that “It’s a family affair, and it gets easier and easier and easier” as time goes on. “This is a relationship that we built because it makes sense.” Their contact with each other includes cheering together on the sidelines as their son plays soccer and celebrating Thanksgiving together (along with their new spouses).

This, according to Kristin, is not always easy, but she says that it is so much better than playing the victim and bringing tension into the inevitable contact that comes with a growing child.

Collaborative law teams have made an impact on the number of cases decided by the court. According to the article, 457 divorces went to trial in King County last year, compared to 787 in 2003. Collaborative agreements may cost more money because of a protracted negotiation process, especially if one partner is opposed to the divorce. However, Kristin and her ex-husband, Stefan, agree that it was well worth the money and time. They both feel that the Collaborative professionals guided them into an agreement that met their needs and the needs of their son. They both have new partners, and they are very supportive of the “growing post-divorce family.”

One idea mentioned in the article that I really like was the idea that Collaborative divorced people can periodically have what are called “board meetings” to discuss issues that arise. Effective communication is essential in marriage, and it is just as important after divorce. The rancor and personal attacks that can be a part of traditional divorce are unnecessary in today’s social climate, and Collaborative law professionals can help preserve positive family dynamics and the dignity of the people involved. A new Washington law, the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, will help make this positive approach to divorce even more widespread.

If you want to read the entire article, and I would encourage you to do so, go to “Couples Can Divorce Without Drama“.

Copyright 2013. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.