Can divorce really be that pleasant?
You may be familiar with the smiling “divorce selfie” that went viral (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/09/03/couples-smiling-divorce-selfie-goes-viral/71633438/).
This photo featured Chris and Shannon Neuman, a Canadian couple, who explained that they “respectfully, thoughtfully and honourably ended our marriage in a way that will allow us to go forward as parenting partners” for the two children they had during their eleven-year marriage. Shannon explained, “They won’t have to struggle during their wedding planning because we’ll be sitting on the same side of the aisle – THEIR side.”
The obvious reason that this selfie went viral is because it is so unusual for a just-divorced couple to take a photograph together, let alone a photo in which both are smiling.
Most people associate divorce with overwhelming anger, passionate acting out, putting friends and children in the middle, and the destruction of the family’s savings. Some ex-spouses cannot even be in the same room together ever again without setting each other on fire. Divorce litigation can be truly devastating as people go to war in the courtroom, trying to win more time with their children and more money in the form of alimony, child support, and equitable distribution.
However, more and more often, couples are respectfully, thoughtfully, and honorably ending their marriages in a way that allows them to move forward as parenting partners. And this is often through a kinder and gentler method of divorce called “the collaborative process.” Collaborative divorce is a peaceful method of divorce in which spouses can work through the details of their divorce from each other without destroying their families or their finances. Collaborative divorce takes place in a conference room, instead of a courtroom, and permits a couple to negotiate a mutually satisfying agreement. Exes frequently walk out of a collaborative divorce better able to communicate, to problem solve, and to co-parent, just like Chris and Shannon Neuman did.
If divorce is inevitable, doesn’t that sound like the way you would like to divorce? With a smiling divorce selfie?
War or peace? It’s your choice.
About this week’s author: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law while also serving as a full-time 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.