I have been involved in over a dozen cases over the last couple of years where couples have decided to separate and avoid going to court. There seem to be many advantages to this, not least retaining control of the decision making process and coming to a point where an understanding is reached about how to co-parent post-divorce.
Whilst it is seldom an easy process each partner having their lawyer present with someone like me (a “Family Consultant”) to facilitate/manage dynamics & tensions
seems to enable progress where it may otherwise have stalled.
My involvement in this case was from the outset. Whilst both parties wanted to stay out of court there was a high level of longstanding animosity & tension & mistrust.
There were several 5 way meetings (couple, their lawyers & me) over a few months.
The potential to be drawn into their power & control dynamics was significant.
I decided to keep the discussions about co-parenting arrangements separate from those concerning assets & liabilities/finances etc. despite pressure to do both at the same time.
After much negotiation & soul searching & at times tough talking agreement was reached on finances. I met with the couple without lawyers present to facilitate an agreement about access/contact etc. Initially it was a very tense atmosphere with both sides digging in & wanting things their own way. When it became clear to them that I was there to facilitate not decide/pass judgement the game playing/positioning stopped. Without any further input from me they planned out the rest of the year’s weekends & holidays and set off together to tell their children how things were going to be. I am sure this helped the kids to feel a greater sense of security knowing how things were going to be and the parents an experience of how resolve difficulties & begin to co-parent effectively.