Even though many of us are fearful of it, we all know the one sure thing in life is change.
No matter how unhappy they were in the marriage, the biggest fear of people going through a divorce is about how life is going to be different. Yes, many things do change with a divorce. But is that always such a bad thing?
After divorce, people tend to have more time to themselves. Also, decisions that used to require the agreement of the other spouse are now made alone. Most married people desire more time alone and would welcome the ability to make decisions without needing a consensus. But divorcing people often feel anxious when considering these changes. What if they were able to change their perspective and focus on the positives instead of the negatives? Consider just a few:
- They can finally sleep on a schedule that works for them – no more of the former spouse’s snoring, tossing and turning, or that annoying alarm that went off way too early each morning.
- They get to watch what they want on TV, when they want to watch it.
- They can listen to the music or audiobooks they like in the car.
- They don’t have to attend those often boring and awkward work-related events associated with the former spouse’s job.
- They get to eat when and what they want and probably save money in the process. They can choose to cook, pick up food or go out to eat without having to consider a spouse’s schedule or preferences.
- Decisions about the use of money, one of the biggest sources of conflict in most marriages, become much simpler.
- On nights they don’t have the children, they can do something they actually enjoy, like take a class, exercise, make plans with a friend, or just go to bed early and get more of that precious sleep.
- On weekends without the children, they can enjoy a weekend getaway. Married people seldom get this opportunity.
- When they are ready to start dating again, they have a schedule with built-in time to do so on certain weeknights and weekends without having to hire a sitter to watch the children.
The most dreaded change for divorcing couples is having to split time with the children.
But what about considering this as an opportunity for a time-sharing schedule that is even more suited to their particular goals, habits, and family traditions? The standard parenting schedule in non-collaborative divorces uses a fixed weekly schedule with one parent having the children most of each week and parents alternating weekends. It involves alternating the school Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Spring Break holidays, and can provide for extended periods of time each summer that one parent has the children (to the exclusion of the other).
In a Collaborative Divorce, the goal is to customize a time-sharing arrangement for the children that minimizes changes and preserves family traditions. After considering every family member’s daily schedule and activities, weekly time-sharing arrangements that maximize each parent’s quality time with the children are agreed-upon.
If both are willing, former spouses can continue spending some time together with their children on holidays and birthdays. Instead of alternating holidays, they can construct a schedule to continue each family’s traditions. For instance, if Spouse A’s family never gets together on Thanksgiving but always has dinner on Christmas Eve, and Spouse B’s family has a Thanksgiving gathering each year, they can agree that Spouse B has the children every Thanksgiving and Spouse A has the children every Christmas Eve. Summer doesn’t have to involve long periods of time away from the children if the parents don’t want it. The result of this approach is a more workable and satisfying parenting plan for everyone.
Collaborative divorce is an interest-based process.
Clients have the opportunity to put their own spin on the process. They have control over how life will be different after divorce. And it certainly does not have to be miserable.