Monday, December 28, 2009

What If Your Spouse Doesn't Want to do Collaborative Law

A situation that comes up occasionally is that one spouse will decide that a Collaborative divorce is the best approach, but the other spouse doesn't agree. Unfortunately, it is impossible to force someone to use Collaborative Law if they don't want to use it. It can be very frustrating for a husband or wife to research the subject and come to the conclusion that Collaborative Law would be best for both parties and then find out that their spouse disagrees. In some cases, maybe you are just stuck in litigation. In some other cases, you may be able to have a mature discussion and persuade your spouse to join you in collaborating. If you want to try to do that, here are some ideas to consider.

1. Try to find out the reason or reasons for the objection to Collaborative Law. Once you understand that, you may be able to come up with reasons to overcome the concerns.

2. Be sensitive to the need to avoid the appearance of pressuring your spouse. Sometimes that alone will make your position unacceptable to your spouse. A spouse may believe that if you want something, it must be bad for them. Try to promote your suggestion in a way that appeals to your spouse.

3. Try to explain the benefits of the process from your spouse's point of view. Some of the following may appeal to your spouse:
  • Avoiding public exposure by meeting and discussing matters in private.
  • Having control over the outcome.
  • Keeping financial records private.
  • Ensuring that the negotiations are held on a level playing field. Expert guidance is available to help eliminate the advantage of more knowledge or experience with some issues.
  • Avoiding the duplicate expenses of having competing experts for property appraisals or business valuations.
  • Encouraging creative new solutions, instead of the statutory guidelines or minimums.
  • Focusing on planning for the future.
If those reasons don't seem to appeal to your spouse, talk with your Collaborative attorney or other professional and come up with some other approaches to present. The Collaborative process can't be forced on someone, but it's really worth a strong, intelligent effort to show the benefits to your spouse so you can both win.

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