What are your goals for your divorce? How do you discern healthy goals on your own despite the grief of divorce? If you participate in the collaborative process, one of the numerous benefits is having a facilitator as part of the team to help you uncover your goals.
To assist a client in understanding his goals, the facilitator will ask him to visualize how he felt when he was first married, when he was in love and excited about the future. She will ask him to close his eyes and to remember how he felt back then. She will talk in a soothing voice, trying to relax him as much as possible. She may dim the lights and/or ask him to lie down. This serves to remind the participants of the commitments they made to one another and of the positive intentions they had back then. She may ask how they would have felt back then if a trusted friend had said, “I know this is unthinkable, but divorce does occur, and it might happen to you and your new spouse. Loving your spouse as you do today, what promises would you make about how you will behave if you should have to divorce some day?” She might ask how they would have responded.
If the client responds negatively or positionally, the facilitator may choose to take him back even farther. “What qualities in your spouse did you first fell in love with? Her sense of humor? Her good nature? What did you two have in common? What did you enjoy doing together back then? How did she make you feel? Can you recall those feelings for me here today?”
The facilitator may then ask the client to describe his/her wedding day. “What feelings did you have? Excitement? Love? Why did you feel that way? Can you remember how that felt? Can you recall those feelings for me here today?”
Perhaps the facilitator will then request other details about the marriage in order to elicit a positive response. “How did you feel on your first anniversary? How did you feel on the day when your child was born?”
The facilitator will tread carefully with these questions, looking for but avoiding possible hot button issues.
Once the individual reaches a place where he is remembering the past fondly, the facilitator will again ask what his goals are for the divorce. The key to uncovering the client’s underlying interest is to link the solution to the interest to be solved. The facilitator may need to guide the participant by offering examples of goals that are more profound than quantifiable rewards like houses and bank accounts.
Participants should be encouraged to think about what truly matters to them, more than anything else, regardless of whether it relates to the divorce. They can then focus on which of these broader goals or interests they want to achieve through the divorce process.
Identifying goals is key to interest-based negotiation. It is the secret to resolving conflict in a way that ensures a lasting settlement agreement.
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About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.