Most people are uncomfortable with and adverse to major life change. This is human nature. It is not surprising that when people face separation and impending divorce, they grapple with disorientation, disillusionment, and even outright fear. With the reality of an uncertain future, vulnerable and off-kilter, perception is often a sense of being without protection. Communications can register as if they are happening around them, perhaps without their agreement, all too quickly. Times of transition are frequent times of crisis. The decisions clients make (or as sometimes seen, fail to make) may not be the best for their future or that of their family.
The Mbuti people, a pygmy tribe in Africa, believe that each person is the center of their own sphere. Throughout their lives, as people move through changes, their sphere moves as well, in a sort of protective encasing of the individual. If one moves too rapidly or vigorously, however, he or she can transfer unwittingly outside the sphere: the Mbuti refer to this state as “Awazi-wazi@.” A person reaches “wazi-wazi” when he or she becomes disoriented and actions thus become unpredictable. Separated and outside the sphere of safe boundaries, one might do or say that which does not represent the true self.
So what can be done if a state of wazi wazi is the result of an impending divorce? One of the major benefits of a collaborative divorce is the existence of the protective team and the team’s ability to use the process to create a safe harbor for each client. This safety is accomplished in a multitude of ways, among them the following:
A. Upon entering the collaborative process, clients’ goals and interests are explored. They agree to stay out of the courthouse while voluntarily exchanging the information necessary to create settlement options and the options are evaluated while keeping in mind the goals and interests of both parties.
B. An Agenda is prepared for every meeting and the team and clients agree to its strict adherence. Clients are assured that the topics listed are the only issues that will be addressed during said meeting. This reduces the anxiety of being ambushed with topics that one of the clients may not feel prepared, at that point, to discuss.
C. The Roadmap to Resolution is used as a syllabus or outline of the steps that will be taken while trying to resolve the issues. Clients will be reminded throughout the process of which step will be next, what is expected of them during that step, and what exactly that phase will entail.
D. Clients are guided and encouraged to look toward the future instead of dwelling on mistakes made in the past.
E. The pace of the process is constantly adjusted to meet the needs of the clients.
F. Clients are surrounded by a team of professionals dedicated to guiding them to thoughtful, durable agreements. Each team member is there to help both clients reach as much of their goals as possible. This can only be accomplished if the clients feel safe during the transition, thus it is paramount.
G. Clients are empowered to make their own decisions about their future while simultaneously receiving team support and assistance when necessary. This often comes much closer to a win-win than the win-lose inherent in litigation.
Collaborative divorce helps clients suffering the pain of divorce find the ability to stay out of a state of Awazi wazi@ and move toward peaceful, dignified resolution.