by Debra Caliguri, Law and Mediation Offices of Debra N. Caliguri
How many times have we all heard and even repeated the phrase “Ignorance is
bliss”? Itmay be popular, but ignorance is bliss is no credo to live by. One online dictionary defines “Ignorance is bliss” as “a term used to falsely justify apathy on the given subject in the form of a catchy cliche.”
In our knowledge-based society it is unlikely that choosing to be ignorant will bring you success in any of your life’s endeavors. This is particularly so when you are going through a major life transition like divorce.
Gone are the days when you and your spouse can afford to hire attorneys to take your case and leave the decision-making and thinking to the attorneys and judge to figure it out. Instead, you need to empower yourselves by gathering reliable information and becoming a savvy consumer of divorce-related services.
One of my clients recently concluded her divorce process in which I served as her Collaborative attorney. She and her husband had been married over 20 years, had children preparing for college, and with ten years or less to work before reaching retirement age, they were concerned with preserving their retirement funds.
Like many divorcing couples, both spouses felt wounded and found it difficult to trust the other. Their children were hurting as well, having witnessed the parental conflict over the years. The parties had disagreements over financial, legal, and even parenting issues.
The one thing they agreed upon: they wanted to stop the hurt, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of their children. This goal led them to seek alternatives to a knock-down, drag out fight in court.
The couple considered mediation, but decided they needed more information, advice, and support than the neutral mediator could provide. They found their way to Collaborative divorce after meeting with several attorneys and financial professionals. Through the Collaborative process, they were able to successfully reach a full agreement in under six months.
My client is extremely grateful she found the Collaborative divorce process and shared with me what she had learned to help going through a painful divorce.
My client found that for her, Collaborative divorce was superior to going to court, as the Collaborative process fosters an environment of creative problem-solving. This is strikingly different than what happens in court where a judge makes decisions in an atmosphere of mud-slinging advocacy.
The team approach was key to providing the parties with the right information, financial analysis, legal advice and emotional support to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. My client said the time spent on the Collaborative process was productive time in which the parties were directed and engaged with the team to identify issues, define their interests, and the issues at hand. The Collaborative team members facilitated the couple’s discussions, which led to their finding a path to agreement on all their issues.
The presence of legal counsel, the financial expert and coaches resulted in the parties feeling safe enough to talk to each other directly about their goals, concerns, and needs for their individual futures. They found common ground in wanting what is best for the children.
Collaborative divorce may not suit those people who prefer blissful ignorance. But it is the wise choice for those who choose knowledge, even in a difficult and painful life transition.