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By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT
The quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts, but on how we respond to them.
D-Day, the day you decide to divorce, is the last step in a long struggle between two people and, more precisely, within oneself. The idea may have come and gone, been threatened, or just silently growing over a long period of time. It is not an easy decision. More significantly, while it is the last step toward a decision, it is the first step in another frightful process – turning the decision into a reality.
Divorce, like marriage, is a legal arrangement. The debate over how much the government should have a say in our family life may rage on, but in fact it does. How we divorce is in the hands of our lawmakers, and it’s questionable how well they have done. Divorce is a lawsuit, subject to the same system used in other legal matters – it’s adversarial. Many in the field wonder if there should be a different approach when it comes to family matters. Recently, more and more people have been moving toward alternative solutions to manage the dismantling of a family.
These approaches fall into two general categories. First are approaches where the decisions are in the hands of a third party (i.e., the court, private judges, and arbitration). Second and more recently, are processes that help couples make their own decisions (i.e., collaborative law and mediation). The former are almost always more expensive and take longer to complete, but are more appropriate when the parties have disproportionate power positions or unrelenting hostility. The latter are almost always less expensive and shorter in duration. They work well with couples that can accept outside help to find reasonable solutions.
Mediation and collaborative law use two methodologies: facilitation and evaluation. In facilitation, the neutrals help foster ideas but don’t offer opinions on choices. In evaluative methods, the neutral will process what a likely outcome may be if litigated so the clients can weigh their options. Often these approaches are combined.
When choosing, remember: It's in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Anthony Robbins.