Separating and divorcing couples have several different paths to choose from to complete their separation “journey” and deal with their co-parenting, their finances and the legalities of bringing their relationship to an end. When a couple chooses Collaborative Practice, they often write something describing why they chose this process, this is called an Anchor Statement.
Mary Shaw (a collaborative lawyer with David Gray Solicitors) and I recently worked with a couple and this is what they wrote in their Anchor Statements. (Their names and the name of their son has been changed in order to respect their privacy).
“I decided I would want to use the collaborative divorce process as I want the whole situation to be resolved as amicably and civilly as possible. The collaborative process to me seems to encapsulate this by allowing myself and John to work together to find solutions.
The most important thing to me in this process is James ensuring that our decisions are in his best interests and that he is disrupted as little as possible. I want to maintain his security and happiness and ensure he can spend quality time with me and John.
What matters to me is coming to a civil division of assets and making plans for James. I want to be able to continue to communicate effectively with each other and definitely want to avoid any unpleasantness that may lead to a breakdown of direct communication.
I also want to avoid going to court which the collaborative process supports.
Financial security is important to me. I have been a low wage earner in order to be available at the beginning and the end of the school day, in school holidays etc. I am concerned about my earning potential and being able to support myself and James without eroding my savings. I hope that this can be resolved in a fair and equal manner.
The best outcome for me would be a firm plan for division of childcare, a fair division of assets to ensure financial security and the maintenance of a good relationship between myself and James which will underpin James’ ongoing security.”
“I have engaged with a collaborative process because we had a good partnership in a good marriage, and I don’t want the past to be revised or overwritten because of the circumstances that precipitated its end. Over the years we faced many obstacles and difficulties, and we have and are raising a great boy who has a world of opportunity ahead of him. I don’t want us to forget what we have achieved or jeopardise the future.
From the process, I want to achieve an equitable outcome in every sense, that we all feel as comfortable as possible with, and which allows us to move on but remain good collaborators for the sake of James.
I want us to be able to carry on offering James a secure and safe place in our homes, to present a united front to celebrate his achievements and catch him when he falters.”
This was a couple who understood that for them the quality of the outcome was every bit as important as the quantity.
I can’t really add anything else in addition to these Anchor Statements in support of using the collaborative process except to say that it’s a privilege to work with couples in this way.