Many people, both clients and attorneys alike, simply view divorce as a means to an end. While both litigation and collaborative proceedings achieve dissolution of the marriage, the collaborative process itself can be a powerful teaching tool. The impact divorce has on children is indisputable; countless studies have shown the damaging psychological and even physical effects that plague children whose parents have divorced.
There are many reasons why the collaborative process is a better way to divorce and one of the most important is the time and focus spent on achieving a healthy, productive co-parenting relationship between the two parents. With the guidance of a neutral mental health professional, many parents can salvage the positive pieces of their marriage and demonstrate what a genuine post-divorce relationship looks like to their children.
The importance of this post-divorce relationship cannot be understated. If a child is constantly hearing negative things being said by one parent about the other (or even detecting nonverbal negative feelings), that child will inevitably internalize those feelings of dislike and inadequacy. After all, a child’s “makeup” contains equal parts of both parents. So, it would only be natural for a child to identify with perceived faults of one parent that have been acknowledged by the other.
The collaborative process provides a safe space for parents to work through and address these potential issues in a way that aims to protect children before they are affected. I believe that undergoing a divorce collaboratively can be the difference between a contentious, adversarial co-parenting relationship to one that works and even thrives as the family transitions.