Time Well Spent | A Collaborative Case Study

By Dawn S. Sunday, Esq. (Mechanicsburg) and Ann Levin, Esq. McNees, Wallace and Nurick, LLC (Harrisburg)

As any experienced divorce attorney will tell you, in the majority of all divorce cases at least one of the partners has been thinking about ending the marriage for some time, even if their spouse had no inkling of their feelings.

We recently represented the opposite sides of a divorce in which the husband did not anticipate his wife’s desire to end their marriage. The news left him in a state of shock. After his very lengthy marriage, he seemed to lack his own identity and sense of self. He was in a very fragile emotional state. We agreed that although he was willing to consider the Collaborative process, he could not fully participate until he sought some professional counseling.

The wife, despite initiating the divorce, also recognized that her husband would need some time to find his own voice. She didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the long-standing relationships with family and friends that had developed over the course of their marriage.

Given the benefit of both time and professional help, several weeks later the husband was in a much better position to be an active participant in the Collaborative process. He used his professional knowledge to develop financial reports that enabled both he and his wife to see what they had and what they could share between them. Our Collaborative Coach was a crucial player in this case, as well, since she was able to help the couple focus on moving forward and on what they wanted to accomplish.

In the end, the couple was able to end their marriage with each party coming out whole instead of in pieces, which we both agree—based on the state the husband was in at the beginning—would not have happened in a traditional litigated divorce. We don’t know how he could have attended to the emotional piece he needed. The Collaborative process gave him the time and resources he required.

Both parties have been in touch with us since the divorce was finalized to let us know that they are happily moving forward with their lives, indicating a sense of closure of one chapter and the beginning of another.

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