Fear in a divorce is to be expected. If the divorce process does not allow the couple to address those fears, it can cause the divorce to spiral out of control. Here are some common divorce fears:
- The number one fear is that either they will, or both will lose the house. They fear that if they lose the house the kids will not want to spend time with that parent. Parents often feel like the house represents stability for the children. For couples without children, the house often represents their own financial stability.
- The second biggest fear is the finances, particularly as it relates to retirement accounts. Especially, when our stocks have gone down and it’s been a little more volatile than usual. Clients are often really concerned about keeping their retirement savings.
- Another big fear is the loss of relationships.
- For people with children, it may be that loss of connection with their children on a daily basis. They are used to living under one roof and can be worried about how that will change when they live separately some of the time.
- Sometimes people have similar fears about their pets. Maybe their dog is their best friend and may be going to live with the other party.
- For others, it may be losing the soon-to-be-former spouse as a friend, the former couple’s friends taking sides, or if one spouse had a close bond with the other spouse’s family. When a large part of your support system is connected to the other person, and you are going through one of the hardest transitions of your life, this fear can be compounded very quickly.
Dealing with a Client’s Fears
In the Collaborative Divorce process, we start with a conversation that determines what each side is the most worried about. Then we can balance those fears to make everyone–both spouses, their children, friends, extended family—feel they will be secure after the divorce is finalized. Sometimes you have to sell the house, but you try to find a way to get a new house that will keep the children in the same school district and keep the major stability pieces intact. And sometimes by selling the family home, you can open up new opportunities for the parents to find houses next to one another, or closer to other friends or extended family that could be really helpful for the kids in this transition.
The Collaborative Divorce process enables that conversation in a way that the traditional divorce process does not. In a traditional divorce, there Is no opportunity for a conversation with the other spouse. I cannot ask the other side what drives them or what their fears are. I am unable to structure a settlement in traditional divorce offer that would help with what each side to address the fears. I have to guess rather than being able to figure out what it is that they both would really want. Traditional divorce cases often go longer and can be much more expensive than Collaborative Divorces, because so many different techniques must be implemented to identify what is really driving the case rather than just being able to ask directly.
We also have a much easier time working cooperatively with outside experts. For example, if one party needs spousal support, we can work together with the mortgage broker to find out how much they will need and how long support will need to go on for in order to be able to get a mortgage on their own.
Once we have identified people’s fears, Collaborative Divorce is also great at addressing those fears creatively. In a Collaborative Divorce there is often a unified decision made between the parties. That decision can be similar to what would happen in the courtroom except with more creativity and flexibility based on the needs of each spouse and their children. In a traditional divorce, for example, if the parties cannot agree on who should live in the home, a judge might decide the parties should just sell the house. The fears or motivations of the couple are never addressed with such a decision from the Court. In fact, many people are told not to share their opinions and, instead, only to share the facts. In the Collaborative Divorce process, we can agree that one person will stay in the house for a few years until the kids graduate from high school and then they will split the proceeds, or they can agree that one will stay in the house for two years and then switch. It just allows us the freedom to arrive at solutions that a judge just does not have the ability to order without the parties cooperating.