Collaborative Law: Tips, Tricks, and Helpful Hints

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The Collaborative Practice is for parents who want to foster good relationships, make healthy traditions, minimize conflict, and save money. If you want to be a positive role model and provide a stable environment for your child, the collaborative practice may be right for you.[1]

Making Healthy Traditions: Just as you and your spouse will be going through life-style changes, as will your child. Both parents may want to tell their child that changes are going to occur. It’s important to remind your child that the love between spouses is different than the love between a mother and child, and a father and child.

During these conversations, one or both parents may become emotional. Children accept genuine emotion, and it may even give them permission to get emotional. Some children may initially accept the information while others may not. Regardless of their response, accept your children’s emotions for what they are.

Residential changes can be made smoothly if children are given sufficient information and rationales. Allowing children to decorate their new spaces puts a positive spin on the situation. Additionally, with a new home and new life may come a new romantic partner. Children do not need to be introduced to every new adult in your life. This process should be done slowly and over time.

Minimizing Conflict: The degree of conflict between parents is the most significant factor when predicting child adjustment post-divorce. Children have a right to be protected from their parents’ anger. Conflict can be passive and active. It’s important to respect your spouse and learn how to avoid escalating conversations. Your tone of voice matters as well. It’s not always about what you say, but how you say it. However, don’t make agreements that you don’t intend on complying with in order to end the conversation. Cooperating and communicating with your spouse can go a long way towards minimizing conflict.

Being Positive Role Models: Throughout the collaborative process you will learn anger management and problem-solving skills that you can pass onto your children. Contrast this approach with the litigation battle. Children are more likely to be involved during litigation by way of speaking with a judge or through psychological evaluations. Show your children that they shouldn’t pick sides and that they have the right to love both parents without feeling guilty. Having your children observe you making important decisions about them in a healthy way is the first step in the right direction.

Providing a Stable Environment: Every child has a right to be a kid. Changing homes is likely inevitable. However, this change can be a positive one. It’s helpful when parents collaborate on making “house rules” for their children. On the other hand, it may be inappropriate to impose punishments during the other parent’s time with the children. Children can easily adapt to inconsistencies with parenting. It’s important to remain as consistent as possible, as long as the child isn’t being harmed by a parent’s behavior.

Provide your children with a sense of stability. Activities that children have been involved in should be continued without interruption. Whether it’s sports, lessons, or classes, these should be continued as they usual.

Saving Money: Committing to the collaborative practice means avoiding costs associated with litigation. In doing so, you have greater control over where you can spend your resources. Whether it’s on your new space or on your children’s education, avoiding litigation likely means more money in your pocket.

Keeping these tips in mind during and after the divorce can help facilitate healthy relationships. Trust that each spouse wants the best for the children. Your forgiveness towards each other will teach your children how to forgive. If both parents agree that their children are their priority, communicating and cooperating can become easy.

[1] Cox, Gay and Sheff, Honey. Tips for Parents Engaged in the Collaborative Family Law Process.