We Collaborative professionals have certain ideas as to how the Collaborative Divorce Process should look. We have rules and protocols and best practices that we are bound by or that make us feel comfortable. After all, we want to provide an efficient and economical process to our clients. And we want their processes to be successful. What does that look like? What if the clients’ ideas of how the process should look are different from ours?
I was involved in a case recently that did not progress via established protocols. At times, it seemed that the process had fizzled out. I use that phrase instead of terminate because it wasn’t a typical scenario of disagreement becoming impasse, though there were some tense moments. Rather, the clients’ lives, their understanding of what needed to be accomplished, their belief that the meetings were becoming too expensive, and their misunderstanding that it would be more economical to pass the incomplete marital settlement agreement back and forth via email than to have a team meeting to finalize it got in the way. As the professional team, it was our responsibility to get the couple back on track. And help them understand that working together in a team meeting was the most economical way to proceed.
After several months of back and forth and then periods of silence where it seemed the process had indeed fizzled out, the professional team made a decision to take the process back and strongly urge the couple to meet to iron out the wrinkles in the MSA. They eventually agreed. Not only did the clients finalize and sign their MSA that day, the professionals had prepared all the required petition documents ahead of time and the clients signed those documents, too, avoiding an unnecessary return to the attorneys’ offices and more back and forth via email.
The couple left after exchanging a hug and friendly kiss and another Collaborative Divorce Process came to an end. Sometimes the process (whatever it looks like) just has to play itself out.