Collaboration is the new way. Almost every TV or radio ad I listen to uses it in some capacity. Hospitals are “collaborating” with their doctors. Retirement centers “collaborate” with family members and care providers. Hillary Clinton wants to “collaborate” with other heads of state to address challenges around the world. I recently stumbled on The Collaboration Handbook, produced by Red Lodge Clearing House, an environmental advocacy group. Their handbook provides “common-sense and practical advice about putting a collaborative effort together and making it work.” I have adapted some of their advice to family law collaboration.
Collaboration is simply people working together to try to get something done.
There’s no one “right” way to collaborate, but effective collaborations incorporate the following key ingredients:
- The process is open, inclusive, transparent, accessible, and tailored to the family’s needs.
- Meetings are civil and safe. No bullies allowed.
- Deliberations are thoughtful, frank, and never rushed.
- Commitments that are made are honored. Trust is built on that confidence.
- It’s a team effort. You win, you lose, you make decisions as a team.
Does having a collaborative process guarantee success? No.
But…putting your heads together will feel better than knocking them together. You’ll get to know each other as future partners-in-parenting rather than as intimate spouses with a history. You’ll have a much better chance of finding agreement on possible solutions to tough issues.
Wishing you wisdom,