Yes. It is possible for couples who “can’t stop fighting” to engage in the Collaborative Divorce process to make the transition out of their marriage.
To some extent, all separating couples are under the stress that triggers the basic “fight or flight” human response. Whether or not that response rises to a level that produces ongoing, aggressive, hostile or unproductive verbal exchanges — commonly referred as “fighting” — conflict and impasse are always present, and you must assess and address it no matter what dispute-resolution mechanism you choose when ending a relationship. Family law attorneys trained and practiced in the collaborative model of dispute resolution will, from the initial client consultation on, be helping you assess and address your own communication and conflict-resolution styles.
A collaborative attorney will also help you determine your role in the conflict continuum, and what steps you can personally take to decrease hostility and start to address your stated needs, which as you mentioned are the needs for speed and cost savings. Owning your own part in the fight, and seeing what you can do yourself to stop or decrease the hostility, may be difficult at first. Luckily, the collaborative model is a multi-disciplinary approach. If you encounter barriers to addressing your own part in the problem, resources such as collaborative coaching are available and can help significantly. Resolving disputes respectfully is the cornerstone of collaborative practice. As long as an individual is able and willing to commit himself or herself to acting respectfully, it is possible to use the collaborative model. However, some self-reflection is needed first.
Sandra Crawford is a family law attorney, a collaborative professional and a trained mediator in Chicago, Illinois. She can be reached at (312) 726-8766, www.lawcrawford.com.