“Walk Away into Conflict – Collaborative Law offers an Alternative”

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Walking away from an argument can be a warning sign of divorce.

This is the finding of researchers at the University of Michigan after evaluating how 373 couples resolved conflicts.After 16 years, 48% of the couples had split – and a strong predictor of divorce was the tendency of one partner to withdraw during an argument while the other tried to discuss the situation even calmly. Study author Kira Birditt Ph.D. is stated in Men’s Health to have said that leaving the scene can be viewed by the other person as a lack of investment in the relationship, not as a way to cool down.

Unless checked, the communication gap that led to a failed marriage can also lead to a litigious divorce.

Rarely as a specialist family law solicitor in Bath and Bristol have I seen a litigation process help parties communicate better. Nor have I seen it encourage settlement discussions between them until late in the day and often only at the door of the court. Even then communication and negotiation are invariably undertaken out of fear of the pending courtroom showdown or the uncertain judgment outcome.

There is virtually nothing about most litigation processes that help parties feel remotely relaxed and safe, nor wanting to get together to create a problem solving environment. Instead the adversarial attitude and mentality polarizes parties making settlement more difficult to achieve.

A goal of the Collaborative Divorce process is to create an environment in which couples can feel comfortable remaining together within it, able to communicate all issues between them, and reach solutions that work for them. It does this by:

  • Encouraging participants to commit to civil, respectful and constructive communications. Just having them stated in the process helps defuse past and present emotions.
  • Focusing solely on settlement from the outset. The collaborative divorce process helps parties increase the chances that they will reach that settlement
  • Involving communication facilitators, including divorce coaches and family consultants. The support provided by them can often help avoid or overcome impasses and help redirect conflict away from the individual and at the problem to be resolved

The Collaborative Divorce process is not appropriate for all divorcing couples and certainly will not guarantee better communication between them thereafter. However, for couples who have had difficulty communicating during the marriage and want to avoid prolonged conflict thereafter the Collaborative Divorce can provide a less destructive process.

Article by Richard Sharp

Richard is dedicated to helping clients avoid the trauma of prolonged conflict by finding solutions that benefit them and their families. He works to resolve complex financial situations, protect assets acquired over lifetimes, prioritise the needs of children, and reach outcomes that are fair for all parties.