By: Belinda Lazzara

The 90’s hit sitcom “Friends” featured “Ross” played by David Schwimmer, who throughout the series, is divorced three times. Naturally, Ross becomes the divorce consultant to his group of friends, curious as to what the unraveling of a marriage entails.

Those who endured negative divorce experiences are often more willing to unsolicitedly volunteer their horror story as a cautionary tale to others. Those who experienced a high conflict divorce are more than likely to speak to almost anyone who will listen. Even worse, a growing number of people have resorted to using social media to air their frustrations, detailing their dissatisfaction with their spouse, their spouse’s lawyer, their own lawyer, the judge, and the legal process, generally. Social media and communication platforms allow those with such frustrations a new arena in which to spread their message to a large amount of people quickly. However, divorce horror critics can also be advocates to increase awareness about the collaborative process. For example, a simple google search of the top 10 divorce blogs returns a list of well appointed webpages in the form of blogs and forums, yet one will find themselves hard pressed to find information regarding alternatives to traditional litigation, if any. For example, Divorcemag.com has a section devoted to collaborative divorce by region; however, click on the Florida section and all that exists is one link to a podcast. https://www.divorcemag.com/article-category/collaborative-family-law. Unfortunately, these platforms are underutilized by collaborative practitioners.

As divorce rates average above 50%, “Ross” most likely exists in every social circle and is currently in contact with or has been contacted by a friend or family member contemplating separation or divorce. Educating those who have already experienced the downfalls of traditional litigation and will likely insert themselves as an initial source of information to friends and family, whether solicited or not, is an easy way to spread the word about collaborative to the very people who need to hear our message. The difficulty in educating “Ross” is that once their own case is resolved, they are unlikely researching an alternative process for the next time (although we all know those frequent flyers!). Thus, the responsibility is on collaborative practitioners to initiate those conversations and educate the non-client on the benefits of the “collaborative force.”

So I thank my FACP Leadership Institute facilitators and colleagues for inspiring me to finally create the conversation starter I mildly joked about previously. Each of them has been sent a t-shirt to wear and add to this blog about their own conversations, experiences and ideas for converting the “Ross” divorce naysayers into collaborative advocates.

If you would like a conversation-starting t-shirt of your own, you can order one from my good friend, Heather Stieve, at heatherstieve@gmail.com or via text to (732) 862-7005.

Find out more about Belinda Lazzara at www.mslbb-law.com.