The voice inside my head says, “quickly”. That may sound a bit cold, but much can happen between the first conversation about getting a divorce you have with your spouse and the next one. And if you would prefer collaborative divorce, getting your spouse on board as soon as possible—especially before they retain an attorney—is paramount.
For starters, not all divorce attorneys practice collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce is not even taught in law school. It’s a specialty acquired after you pass the bar. So if your spouse finds an attorney without that training and puts down a retainer, they may not be able to represent them in a collaborative divorce. That will probably play a factor in whether or not your spouse will go along with a collaborative divorce.
“The talk” varies by couple. It can be contentious, emotional, indifferent, or any number of things. It really is an individual thing. At some point during the discussion, you or your spouse will probably ask, “what now” or “how do we proceed?” If you know you would like a collaborative divorce, you should use that discussion of the next discussion as the chance to introduce collaborative divorce.
How do you bring up the topic? Good question. Brutal honesty is probably your best option. Admit you’re scared about going through a divorce and what it will do to your relationship and, if applicable, your family. Tell him/her you want to find a way to get through so that you’re protected and he/she is protected and that you don’t become bitter enemies. That’s when you bring up collaborative divorce.
The best way to bring it up is to mention you have done some research and heard about a type of divorce where you do not have to go to court. If he/she is interested, continue on with the benefits:
- More control over the schedule and costs.
- You speak for yourself, rather than an attorney speaking on your behalf.
- You can speak to each other as part of the negotiation; it’s encouraged rather than discouraged
- A team of neutral experts—accountants, financial planners, divorce coaches—to guide you through the process.
- Proceedings take place in the privacy of a conference room rather than in public in a courtroom.
- You have a say as to the terms of your divorce as opposed to litigation, which relies on formulas and the discretion of the judge.
- Learning how to communicate better with each other as part of the process and building the foundation for future communications if you have children.
If your spouse seems willing to consider collaborative divorce, be ready to offer some resources to help them learn more before committing. There are a number of wonderful resources on my website.
Before you part, set a day and time to discuss again. Perhaps a week or two for them to do some research. Do not pressure or rush your spouse. But let them know you would like to continue the discussion and come to a resolution on how to proceed.
In my years of experience, couples are more likely to drag their feet on the next step than rush into anything. Still, if it’s a collaborative divorce you want, it’s a discussion to have sooner rather than later.