Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber are breaking up. As Hollywood icons, do they know something the rest of the divorcing population should consider? Watts and Schreiber in announcing their breakup jointly said “It is with great love, respect and friendship in our hearts that we look forward to raising our children together and exploring this new phase of our relationship.” Brad Pitt echoes those same sentiments “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids.”
Litigation tears families apart. Each party viciously tries to make the other person seem worse in order to have a judge decide in their favor. In unfriendly divorces, the effects can be very predictable when children are involved. Struggles for parenting time, passion for winning their cause at all costs to the family, and competition in court all have devastating effects on the children. Unlike TV or the movies, you don’t have your day in court. After the attorneys are gone and the case is closed, the parents must somehow pick up the pieces and establish a working relationship for the children’s best interest.
Litigation looks at today: he gets this; she gets that; “que sera sera.” How stressful can that be for the non-monied spouse with an uncertain future? How might these emotions be expressed with the ex-spouse and the children? The division of financial assets and support is just as important within the Collaborative Process as it is in litigation. Nothing is lost by resolving issues respectfully. A financial neutral works with the couple and professional team to forecast/model what the future will look like under various scenarios until the couple decides what is best for them.
In Collaborative Divorce, frustrations and feelings are dealt with. Many times, parents just want to feel respected and heard, something that is alien in litigation. Communication and interest-based planning help. The Collaborative Process asks the parents what their goals are, much the same as the announcements by Jolie-Pitt, and Watts-Schreiber. There is an opportunity to develop a parenting and a financial plan that will meet the needs of the two parties and their children. Going through a divorce is an emotional rollercoaster. The well-being of the children should be of paramount importance. Unhappy children echo unhappy parents. Children need to be protected and not be part of the process, but be part of the goal.