I often come across clients that are in deep emotional pain and cannot see a path through it other than the path they are currently on (which is causing the pain and suffering). I often try to use compassion and education to shift those clients to a new way of doing things, but sometimes, those clients distrust me and cannot hear what I’m saying; it gets distorted as it goes through the wall of pain. These clients do not hear me, so this is my last ditch effort direct approach, the megaphone style email:
Dear, not quite yet ex-spouse, client:
A few thoughts…
This process we are in together is not a collaborative process, you are right.
We are working in the litigation style model where you submit a proposal with all the reasons why you are right and then threaten all sorts of dramatic action when you do not get the answer you want. This style of managing a separation is the traditional way of handling a separation and divorce.
That said, the traditional method may work for you:
1. Your spouse might finally come to her senses and agree to all your demands (wouldn’t that be a relief!).
2. You will liquidate everything (even if it means you take yourself down at the same time) and split the remnants (this includes your co-parenting relationship).
3. You will “win” in court.
On the flip side,
1. You haven’t managed to convince your spouse so far. In the meantime, your spouse is getting more and more evidence that you are trying to push something through, the conflict between you is increasing, and she is getting more and more resistant as she gathers information that your opinion is exactly that, yours. Things are getting more and more delayed.
2. You can’t liquidate everything – that one doesn’t work. Your spouse is a shareholder of your business and is also on the title to your home.
3. The court will take a lot longer and will cost you thousands and thousands of dollars more. There are no winners in the court system. Children lose the most.
What could you do instead? Educate yourself about the collaborative process and the role of the collaborative professional. As a financial neutral, I am here to summarize the information needed for your separation and divorce. First, I collect your information, then I review it, and I walk each of you through the information I have collected, reviewed and summarized. I teach things to the person that wasn’t involved in the household finances. I keep the communication open by including you both in all of my communication.
I also let you know what I see going on. But I can only do that if you were both involved from the beginning. You have an inherent mistrust of me (the litigation style of separation and divorce thrives on distrust). You have also hired a non-collaborative lawyer who will be more than happy to plant seeds of doubt in your mind about your spouse’s lawyer and me as that will increase the conflict, length of time she will work with you, and her fees.
I’m asking the same questions that your spouse, her lawyer, and a judge would ask. You think I’m asking you these questions because I’m out to get you, but in reality, I’m trying to help you. I’m keeping your spouse in the loop so she can see how both you and I got to the answer, and this speeds up the process.
I cut down on duplication of effort, I cut down on cost (as court costs $5,000 – $10,000 a day) and I help you reach an agreement that doesn’t take you down with it. I support you to live your life with hope again.
I do wish I could help you understand the difference between the traditional style of separation and divorce and the collaborative style, but you have to want it too. From your email, it is clear that you want to continue down the path you are on, despite your suffering.
If you change your mind, I’m here, along with my fellow collaborative professionals, to help.