Collaborative Divorce – An Amicable Divorce is Possible

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

Divorce:  Can it be amicable?

I looked up synonyms for “Amicable” and saw “Polite” and “Cordial”.  Hmmmmm, is it possible for divorcing couples to have disagreements about dividing their lives and do so in a way that is less destructive – polite even?  Do you value that idea?  Would you prefer a more cordial exchange where everyone is acting “like an adult” so-to-speak?

As a divorce lawyer, I have personally witnessed how destructive divorce can be and how utterly traumatized my clients are when the litigation process plays out fully.  I’ve had my own client say to me “burn it to the ground!”  (It was a moment of sadness and frustration – but no, we don’t want that).  My goal as a lawyer is never to destroy what is there – it is to salvage your interest, get more, take care of you and put you on track to turn the page so the next phase of your life has a shot at financially security, better relationships and, dare I say it, happiness.

For this reason, collaborative divorce speaks to me.  I want to bring my clients a better way – an amicable way.  People divorce for a host of reasons.  It is not always the lying cheater that caused destruction – easy to hate.  Sometimes, it is two reasonable people (likeable even) that don’t align as parents or as partners.  Sometimes people have suffered from depression or someone struggles with addiction.  Money problems. Family interference.  Life.

So, I am here to say, yes, you can have an amicable divorce.  If you are thinking of divorce and ready to say it to your spouse – I suggest you also say how you want it to go.  Say out loud that you hope that it can be respectful, cordial or polite.  Also, find a lawyer trained in the collaborative model.  You can tell by looking at their advertising and website.  Are they telling you they are “aggressive,” or do they offer mediation and collaborative divorce?  Look at the approach that lawyer takes and do a bit of research.  It can set the stage for how the process will play out.

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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