Friday, December 10, 2010

The Opportunity to Take Personal Responsibility in a Divorce


Society tends to value the situation where one party takes personal responsibility for his or her decisions and actions. That is true in business, politics and personal life.

However, when people start to go through a divorce, they sometimes tend to be less motivated to assume responsibility for their decisions. In many cases, they come to expect a judge to make the significant decisions. When that happens, it often impacts on the quality of the decisions and the parties' satisfaction with the court's rulings. It also sometimes lessens the "buy-in" or involvement of the parties. As a result, when things don't work out very well, the responsibility and blame land on the court. Instead of trying to remedy the situation, the parties will sometimes fall into the habit of thinking there's nothing they can do because they are bound by the court's decision, and that's often true.

If there's some interest in having the parties come up with their own solutions, there are four ways it can play out.
  • If both parties feel strong enough and want to take the responsibility, they can do so using Collaborative Law.
  • If one party wants to try Collaborative Law, but the other is uncertain about it, Collaborative may still work for them. The party who is wavering can be reassured by the fact that there would be two neutral professionals involved and the attorneys have a slightly different mission than they do in litigation cases. The spouse's attorney is not going to be cut-throat or try to make things difficult for you. Both attorneys will try unconventional means of getting to an agreement.
  • If one party definitely wants the judge to make the decisions, then there's no way to use Collaborative Law, and that's too bad.
  • If neither party really wants the responsibility for working out solutions, then they can't do Collaborative, and that's also too bad.
In the end, people facing family law issues must decide how they want decisions made. Do they want to make their own decisions, with the help of neutral experts, or do they want to turn over the decision-making process to a court where they will not have to create a solution, but where they may be very unsatisfied with the result. To participate or not to participate, that is the question. Do you want to take personal responsibility? If so, Collaborative Law may be the best approach for you.