An increasing number of couples are choosing the collaborative approach to separation or divorce in order to minimise the conflict, stress and emotional damage that it can cause. Once you have decided as a couple to go down this less adversarial route, how should you approach your first meeting with a collaborative divorce professional?
Richard Ward, a Partner with law firm Duthie Ward and a member of Consensus Collaboration Scotland, shares ten helpful tips based on several years’ experience handling collaborative divorces.
1. Consider what is important to you, and why. Think seriously about the reasons behind what you want, so that you (and your advisers) are able to put forward your case effectively and that solutions which work for everyone involved can be sought. Remain open to exploring different options to ascertain which solutions might work best.
2. Create a list of questions you have about any aspect of the divorce, so that you obtain the answers you require to make informed decisions.
3. Identify the issues that will need to be resolved during the process, and avoid focusing on just the most important issue for you. You may wish to prioritise some temporary issues, such as whether one of you will move out to start the separation process.
4. Be mindful of how you express yourself. Putting yourself in the other person’s position will help you understand how you would feel if they said the same thing, or in the same way, to you.
5. Use your former spouse’s first name to help maintain respect between you both. Don’t refer to them in the third person as “he” or “she”, which will just annoy and alienate them.
6. Listen carefully to what others are saying. Understanding their points will be just as important as getting your own across.
7. Speak up if anything is unclear or unfamiliar. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
8. Stay calm. If you feel you are becoming anxious or agitated, ask if you can take a break and get some fresh air for a few minutes.
9. Take your time. Don’t feel pressurised into making any decisions.
10. Bring along documents (e.g. mortgage statements, tax returns etc) that you have started to gather.
If you are considering a separation or divorce and would like further information on the collaborative approach, please contact a Consensus Collaboration Scotland professional.