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Preparing for collaboration when emotions are high

You may no longer be able to conjure up the feelings you had for your spouse on your wedding day. However, you know that you were happy and in love even though much has changed since then. You may be ready to divorce your spouse but unwilling to add to the heartache you are already sharing. Perhaps you are looking for information on how to reach this goal.

Many couples find that alternative dispute resolution methods allow them to end their marriages peacefully without creating a situation that places them on opposite sides of a battle. One method of ADR is collaborative law. If you are considering a collaborative divorce, it is wise to learn as much as possible about this process before committing to it. It is also important that you know the triggers that may send your efforts off course and jeopardize your chances of a successful collaboration.

Maintaining control of your emotions

Collaborative divorce involves you and your spouse, along with your respective attorneys, working through the common issues of divorce. You will approach each issue, such as asset division, child custody and support matters, with the goal of negotiating a settlement without the involvement of the courts. You may have other neutral professionals, such as a financial advisor or child advocate, who will guide you in making decisions. However, there is no mediator or judge.

This arrangement means that you and your ex-spouse must be prepared for any situations that may cause your good efforts to spiral out of hand. Some steps you can take include the following:

  • Reflect on the topics and situations that caused hostility or conflict during your marriage.
  • Decide ahead of time how you will react to those topics.
  • Practice dealing calmly with your ex-spouse's reaction, including nonverbal reactions, to common triggers.
  • Prepare your attorney by discussing the signals you recognize in your ex as he or she nears an emotional explosion.
  • Have a plan for taking a break when the conversation begins to turn hostile or if you feel your ex is trying to bait you into a fight.
  • Be the better person by offering a sincere apology if you say or do something to trigger a reaction.

By recognizing the signs and working with your Maryland attorney to have strategies in place for dealing with them, you may find that your collaborative divorce achieves all that you hope it will. In addition to ending your marriage in a more peaceful manner, you and your spouse may have the beginnings of an amicable post-divorce relationship.

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