In every initial consultation I tell my client that a solid divorce agreement that will stand the test of time is built on four pillars. Failing to address any of them makes a very unsteady platform from which to build your new future. Those pillars are: Legal Pillar:...
How Collaborative Divorce Attorneys Are Different
• Managing Client Emotions: Collaborative attorneys deal with clients experiencing a range of intense emotions, from grief and anger to fear and uncertainty. They need to be empathetic listeners, validating feelings without getting drawn into emotional reactions or letting their own feelings take over.
• Facilitating Communication: A key aspect of collaborative practice is fostering open and respectful communication between spouses. The attorney plays a crucial role in de-escalating conflict, encouraging active listening, and ensuring both parties feel heard and understood. They can’t do that if one or both attorneys is flooded and overwhelmed by their own reactions.
• Maintaining Objectivity: While advocating for their client’s needs, a collaborative attorney needs to remain objective enough to remain effective. This allows them to see the bigger picture, identify mutually beneficial solutions, and avoid getting bogged down in adversarial positions. It also prevents an attorney from letting their personal judgments about what is happening, or should happen, swamp the client’s judgements about the best solutions.
• Managing Their Own Emotions: Collaborative attorneys are not immune to emotions. Recognizing their own triggers and managing their reactions is crucial. By staying calm and present with their clients, they can create a safe space for clients to communicate and negotiate effectively without making the process about the attorneys and their personal views and biases.
But developing and maintaining this emotional intelligence is hard and intentional work. The “hard work” involved in developing emotional intelligence includes:
• Self-awareness: Understanding your own strengths, weaknesses, and emotional triggers.
• Self-regulation: Managing your own emotions and reactions in challenging situations.
• Empathy: Accurately perceiving and understanding the emotions of others.
• Conflict Skills: Building rapport, facilitating communication, and navigating conflict effectively.
Legal expertise is a given and fundamental for any divorce attorney. But the focus on these other skills, in my experience, differentiates Collaborative family lawyers from divorce attorneys with more traditional, adversarial, and court-based practices. Beyond technical legal expertise, these emotional intelligence skills differentiate the best collaborative attorneys from others. They can navigate the emotional minefield of divorce with sensitivity and competence, ultimately guiding their clients towards a more amicable and constructive resolution without becoming part of the problem themselves.
A recent article making the rounds has highlighted an issue that has simmered in the family law world for decades: How should breastfeeding impact child custody arrangements?The answers are not simple legally. As the article points out, North Carolina courts and many...
The benefits of Collaborative Divorce can be difficult for clients to appreciate in advance. Seeing and appreciating how a joint problem-solving negotiation differs from adversarial and transactional negotiation in substance and result is far easier in...