Traditional Divorce can be traumatic for children. One way parents can help lessen the impact is to consider using the Collaborative Law process when negotiating the terms of a custodial schedule prior to divorce. This process can be particularly beneficial for parents who are good co-parents with one another pre-divorce and that want to maintain a positive post-divorce relationship with one another for the sake of the children.
The Collaborative Law process encourages both parents to place their child(ren)’s happiness and emotional wellbeing as central to the process, in contrast to litigation and traditionally adversarial negotiation. The collaborative process has a structured methodology for doing this, which aids parents in communicating with each other to share their goals and strengthen their communication skills at the same time. These goals lead to a structured problem-solving process of generating options to, hopefully, come to a solution that all parties can live with post-divorce.
Through option generation the parties can create a schedule that focuses on the needs of their children and strives to minimize the disruption to the children’s lives. Especially in a multi-jurisdictional location such as Washington, DC, this process can address situations where, for example, one parent lives in Virginia and the other lives in Washington, DC, post-divorce. The process can consider how to structure a schedule based on wide-ranging variables such as traffic between the parent’s houses, school, jobs, and the children’s activities.
The collaborative process allows for the parents to hire a child specialist, a mental health professional whose role is to ascertain how the children are doing and to bring feedback back to the team to consider when crafting either short-term or long-term parenting plans. This sort of contemporaneous feedback directly from the children in a structured (and appropriate) setting is often unheard of through the traditional divorce process.
Parenting plans and agreements created in the collaborative process are durable documents, created by parents who are very cognizant of their responsibility as parents to help their children and prioritize a new normal that works for the whole family.
If you are contemplating a divorce, you should contact an experienced family law attorney, ideally one who is trained as a collaborative professional, to discuss your particular needs and whether collaborative divorce is appropriate for your family.
For more information on the Collaborative Divorce process, contact Emily Baker.