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    If you’re going to get divorced, do it with a Couple & Family Therapist

    0 תגובות   יום חמישי, 15/12/11, 10:12

    People considering divorce will experience varying degrees of resentment, rejection, anxiety, disappointment, helplessness and loss. The sense of vulnerability generally leads them to a lawyer’s office, which is typically the first step into a process which is damaging both for the adults and the kids.

     

    The division of family property and responsibilities through a legal battle will always result in a tremendous waste of money, time and nerves. It involves threatening and aggressive acts which damage trust between the parents and greatly hinder their ability to cooperate going forward.

     

    There are no winners when either (and usually both) of the parents ends up hurt and embittered, as the implementation of the divorce agreement will be half-hearted and partial. The children are torn apart in an atmosphere of distrust and will always suffer if one of the parents is financially or emotionally weakened by the process.

     

    Mediation is a means of resolving conflict that enables the parents to developing optimal terms of agreement in a structured, non-adversarial process. It avoids much of the waste and helps minimize the stress involved in changing the family structure.

     

    Undertaking divorce mediation with a couple and family therapist provides unique value in that it includes the guidance of a professional trained in couple dynamics and with the knowledge to effectively address both the parents’ and the children’s emotional needs and tangible interests.

     

    While the option exists to choose one of the many excellent lawyer-mediators, there is a real likelihood that communication will break down. Lawyers are not trained to understand or manage the intense emotions involved in couple relationships, nor are they knowledgeable about the impacts of family trauma on children. If you do choose to mediate your divorce with a lawyer, it is highly advisable to consult with a family therapist on the parenting plan and implications for the kids.

     

    Divorce mediation with a therapist costs less than with a lawyer-mediator, and provides direction in dealing with parenting issues (child custody, responsibilities and scheduling), as well as maintenance payments and division of property. Once the decisions have been made, a lawyer is retained to draft the legal agreement.

     

    A therapist is skilled at dealing with the intense emotionality that is part and parcel of divorce, providing the support and defusing flare-ups. Even with couples who are embroiled in high conflict, a sensitive and experienced therapist can help them communicate and reach sound decisions that will serve them for many years to come.

     

    A family therapist is by nature focused on the well-being of each member of the family unit. The family is not a “case” and the parents are not “parties”. The objective is to enable each of the parents to continue their lives with a solid foundation and with optimism for the future. If the kids are old enough, a therapist provides the option to meet with them as well – so that they feel included in the process. Research has found that giving children some sense of control helps them accept the changes and adapt more quickly and easily.

     

    Every effort is made to divide assets with the minimum amount of financial disruption and to put both parties in the best possible financial position that the available assets will allow. In situations of financial complexity, a legal mediator may be asked to join for a couple of meetings to assist in exploring specific issues, options and consequences. When necessary, the advice of accountants and appraisers may also be sought.

     

    For some couples, divorce mediation is not a good fit. When there are unique circumstances around finances, parenting or personalities, or if there are extreme imparities or distrust between the couple, Collaborative Divorce should be considered. In that method, lawyers and family therapists are able to provide a higher level of professional support, helping to ensure a positive outcome.

     

    In summary, mediation with a therapist enables couples to get through divorce in a way that leaves all family members better able to move forward with their lives. It avoids: 

    Spending hard-earned savings on a nasty legal process        

           Turning your life into a living hell for two years or more        

            H      Harming your children with an “impossible” situation in which their parents treat each other with  suspicion and disrespect      

     

    How does Mediation work?

     

    Mediation is recognized by the Israeli legal system as an efficient and effective way to settle disputes, and mediated agreements are given priority for approval by the courts.

     

    The therapist-mediator facilitates discussion of the divorce issues in a calm and respectful atmosphere, in order to arrive at a common understanding of the needs and interests which underlie the couple’s positions. Together, we generate and assess multiple possible solutions in order to arrive at a formula which fulfills the needs of all family members in the best way possible.

     

    The therapist-mediator maintains neutrality, creating a fair and safe environment in which each of the couple can feel understood. The entire mediation process, including all discussions and agreements, is not admissible in court until the final agreement is submitted for ratification. This facilitates open discussion and creativity.

     

    In conclusion, the manner in which we divorce is one of the more important decisions we will be required to make. It has tremendous bearing not only on the quality of life of all family members for many years, but also on the children’s personalities and attitudes to couplehood and marriage which will affect future generations. Rather than resorting to the legal system, it is highly advisable to seek sound professional advice.

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      רנדי טישלר MSW
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