Although married couples generally begin with vows of commitment that state "...till death do us part," the sad fact is that 50% of all first marriages end in divorce. Typically, divorce is a very contentious process, especially when there are children involved. If the couple can't get along and solve their problems during the marriage, it is often even more difficult for them to get along and cooperate during a divorce—especially when the typical divorce involves lawyers and clients fighting for everything they can get.
In this style of divorce, there are no winners. Parents and children generally end up angry, hurt, and emotionally bruised. As a psychologist, Dr. Ducharme understands the devastation that can occur when divorce becomes a battleground.
Divorcing with Dignity
Fortunately, there is another option, called Collaborative Divorce. It is designed to help families divorce with a sense of dignity. Professionals who participate in Collaborative Divorce are trained to focus on the overall wellbeing of the entire family unit. The process itself utilizes a series of informal conferences attended by the attorneys, clients, a neutral mental health professional, and a neutral financial expert when appropriate. An agenda is set prior to each meeting to limit the prospect of a "surprise" being raised. Clients work closely with their attorneys prior to the meetings so that they are familiar with the issues to be discussed and have an understanding of the law in that particular area. All parties are able to review pertinent documentation prior to meetings, and all negotiations are conducted openly with client participation.
The collaborative approach creates an atmosphere of open communication and cooperation that helps the couple in shaping a divorce agreement that fits the needs of their particular family. A mental health expert (a crucial part of the team) provides information on child development and family issues so that the parents can make good choices for and about their children. The team remains focused on a "win-win" solution.
Not all couples can utilize this process. In situations where there is abuse or domestic violence, the couple may not be able to work collaboratively. However, for couples who truly love their children and can agree that they want to shape a plan that keeps the best interests of their kids at heart, Dr. Ducharme suggests that Collaborative Divorce is often the best way to go. To find a lawyer trained in this process, visit Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group. Or, contact Dr. Ducharme to learn more about this process.
Elaine Ducharme Ph.D ABPP Board Certified in Clinical Psychology