The breakup of a family unit is difficult for everyone, but perhaps most traumatic for younger, school-age children.
Traditional litigation can be especially stressful for children, but they fare much better when parents choose the less adversarial approach known as collaborative divorce.
Understanding how it works
In a collaborative divorce, each party engages the services of an attorney trained in this kind of process. The attorneys will provide guidance and assist in negotiations that ultimately lead to a settlement satisfactory to both spouses. Collaborative divorce covers all the issues spouses expect a judge to help settle during a traditional court proceeding, including property division, child custody, child support and spousal maintenance. Often, spouses bring in professionals such as accountants or social workers whose expertise is helpful in resolving sticking points.
Couples can begin their collaborative divorce with a temporary agreement designed to stabilize their situation. As they begin working on forming an agreement, spouses exchange information freely and agree to legal procedures that will reduce costs and simplify the divorce process. In addition to negotiating a settlement, they can develop guidelines to follow in making post-divorce decisions, many of which will help in creating a workable parenting plan.
Divorce is especially hard on young children of elementary school age who need the assurance that only a parent’s love can provide. They are impressionable and emotional. They may find it difficult to understand why their parents have chosen to go separate ways, and they are fearful of this new life the family breakup is forcing them to enter. The often adversarial environment that comes with traditional divorce can overflow into the lives of the children, sometimes with lasting, detrimental effects.
Collaborative divorce is a calmer, more respectful process as compared to litigation. It sets the tone for life after divorce, encourages communication, and provides the foundation for stability within the new family dynamic. And because it shields children from unnecessary grief and stress, collaborative divorce has become a popular option for divorcing parents.