I recently sat at the table with a husband and wife who had just signed their marital settlement agreement. This signaled the end of their collaborative divorce process.
I offered them my respect for how they had pursued the process on behalf of their children. They could have chosen a different path. The could have taken a path toward conflict and hurt feelings, one that might have damaged their ability to work together as a co-parenting team on behalf of their children. But they didn’t choose that path. Instead, they chose a peaceful path, a civilized path — a saner path.
As professionals in collaborative divorce, we recognize that this process is good for families. But I have come to believe that this process is more than that. Collaborative divorce is truly good for the world.
We all realize that things are a mess right now. It would be difficult to deny the violence and injustice that are rampant both at home and abroad. Sometimes it seems like the world is spinning dangerously out of control.
So what can we each do to counter all of this? How can we play our part in combatting the forces that seek mayhem and misery?
What we can do is guide families through their divorce in the most civilized way possible. Collaborative divorce does just that. Every family that is saved from a custody battle or courtroom trauma has a chance to find a new way of being. Spouses move on with their lives, children are spared from growing up in a contentious co-parenting environment, and an example is set for others — other families, the professional community, the public at large — that differences can be resolved calmly, fairly, and without physical, verbal, or financial violence.
The world desperately needs a dose of sanity. Through collaborative divorce, whether we are spouses or professionals serving spouses, we can make our own contribution toward a more sane and humane world.
Jeremy S. Gaies, Psy.D. is a psychologist, Parenting Coordinator, Collaborative Facilitator and Certified Family Mediator. Dr. Gaies focuses his practice on peacemaking to help couples and families through the process of divorce and co-parenting. His primary work is as a Parenting Coordinator and as a Facilitator for Collaborative Divorce teams. He is the co-author of Mindful Co-parenting: A Child-Friendly Path through Divorce.
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