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  • The way to an amicable divorce
  • By Karen Laprade - Bermuda
  • BDA Sun
  • 23/06/2006 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 61 articles in 2006 )
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Is this the way to an amicable divorce?

Legal practice aiming at peaceful settlements now available in BDA

A relationship ends. Emotions run high. Decisions made can last a lifetime. Parties jockeying for position put children and assets at risk. The prospect of court increases animosity and anxiety, and the financial cost can be devastating.

Until recently there has been little recourse for couples who want to avoid the notoriously adversarial legal process for divorce. But a growing number of people have recently been seeking out mediators to help broker a peaceful legal ending and bring about emotional resolution. In addition, a kinder, gentler legal practice known as collaborative law, which started in North America during the early 1990s, is becoming an option in Bermuda.

Frustrated with the destructive impact of family litigation, lawyers and other professionals have sought alternatives. Among those, Collaborative Family Law has gained recognition across North America as a preferred, common sense/ team approach to resolving issues arising from family breakdowns. Collaborative law removes court as an option and focuses energy and resources on creating positive, fair, and long lasting settlements. Utilizing skills of specially trained lawyers, Collaboration allows people to engage in meaningful constructive problem solving about their future and the long-term impact of separation on their lives. It tends to be less expensive, and ultimately more effective than traditional approaches.

This evolution has been precipitated by a number of factors, not the least being the children of divorce. A growing body of research points decisively to the fact that children have a much harder time adjusting to new family dynamics when their parents are bickering or engaged in full-scale war. There is also strong evidence, that the children who do best are the ones who feel free to have positive relationships with both parents - particularly parents who have moved on in their own lives. 'Moving on' includes ending the conflict, because while you are involved in the conflict, you just don't have the emotional energy or time to devote to your children.

Despite the grief and anger couples feel when they separate, they still should be able to discuss how to manage the situation for the children's sake. An acrimonious parting doesn't benefit anyone. It is important to realize that you can't move on and build a life and have any fun if you are putting energy into being mean or being difficult. Living and loving takes enough energy. Living and hating is just a huge waste of time.

Children may be one of the strongest incentives for divorcing couples to be civil to - or even friends with - each other. But there are other potent factors, among them the very real differences between how this and previous generations view divorce. Many of the people who are getting divorced today were in fact children of parental divorce, so it does, in a sense, become normalized in a culture. One might speculate that having had the experience of divorce, they do understand how difficult or traumatic it can be. We may be maturing a little bit as a society that recognizes that relationships are fragile, vulnerable and do break up, and that we need to minimize the effects of divorce on children.

How Collaborative Family Law works - and it only works for people who are looking for a peaceable resolution, not for those hiding assets or out for revenge - is that each person hires a collaborative lawyer and all four proceed through the divorce as a team. Typically, collaborative lawyers also have like-minded mediators, child specialists, financial advisers and business valuators on call to help deal with particularly troublesome aspects. Going to court is not an option.

The belief is that people can make their own decisions. Each party's lawyer is still acting as that person's lawyer, but in addition they're acting as a communication coach and facilitator, providing people with the support they need to make those decisions, making sure they have an opportunity to go beneath the positions they bring in the door and think about what's important in the long term.

In the end, most people want their marriage to end decently. They don't want it to cost an arm and a leg and they don't want to hate each other. This process allows people to end relationships respectfully, effectively and efficiently.

A 'good' divorce requires commitment and a lot of hard work. It is still a relationship. Your marriage is ending but your relationship isn't ending if you have children. It needs to change but it will continue. The payoffs are big for divorced couples who have struggled through the anger and grief and made peace with each other.

For detailed information of Collaborative Family Law as an option for peaceful divorce, please see next week's article.

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Contact us: Karen E. Laprade of Collaborative Strategies can be reached at 505-1308 or at klparade@northrock.bm

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