By Noel da Silva
There is no getting around the role that fear plays in reparation and divorce. Every front line professional whether they are Family Health Professionals, Financial Professionals, Coaches or Lawyers, can attest to this. The fear factor!
There are many sources of fear.
Fear can include fear of the unknown. Separation for most people a circumstance they are not familiar with. Terrible apprehension comes from asking the question “Am I going to lose my kids” in a custody and access dispute. “How am I going to manage financially”, is another very real concern. People involved in a breakup are very afraid of publicity. Sometimes spouses or partners do and say awful things to each other. Police and the Children Aid Society have often had to become involved with families. At other times it is the teacher and schools that discover the families difficult problems.
All the professionals who help separating families in distress have a unique opportunity. We can best hold by steering our clients away from conflict towards settlement oriented solutions that reduce conflict and its damage to the children and spouses.
A conversation that produces an accurate detailing of the steps forward to obtain a separation agreement and closure is the first step towards calming the person’s fear. Screening for domestic violence which is a necessary step in keeping abused spouses safe can be calming once the abused spouse is in contact with a family health professional healing can start.
Even knowing the worst that can happen, while not scaring the person can have a calming effect. This won’t mean having to accept a negative ¬result or position. It does mean formulating a plan, understanding next steps and actually taking those steps this is crucial towards getting rid of the fear factor.
Collaborative Law or Collaborative Practice is an excellent way to deal with fear. It allows for each parties concerns to be voiced and most importantly heard. Each spouse is allowed to speak from the heart and state what their goals are. This usually brings out the rational best in people. Even when a goal is to avoid problems or avoiding conflict is an expressed goal it is something concrete the professionals around the table at each collaborating settlement meeting need to understand and plan to deal with.
Talk is not enough. It is when clients see actual progress being made that they can start to take a deep breath. When they understand that their active, informed participation in the collaborative process is important this can be calming as they themselves are taking steps to resolve the conflict.
Clients find that the process of enquiry as to what each persons’ interests really are and what lies behind the positions they are taking is also calming as there is acknowledgement that they have been understood. Once a person in distress speaks; is heard and then is understood the next step in the collaborative process which is putting the options on the table for consideration, to solve each segment of the overall conflict, can take place.
Acknowledging and explaining our fears is part of the healing process for everyone. So there is no need to be afraid of fear and its expression. Creative solutions customized to meet each families needs, crafted into a separation agreement that reasonably protects both parties and their children is the best solution to conquering fear.
Apprehension built up over many years cannot be entirely eliminated. The understanding possible within the collaborative process that the parties are still a family, except one that does not look the same, is very helpful. When continuing future support are also considered and built into to the separation agreement families using the process of Collaborative Practice gain an extra measure of assurance. They may even be ready to relax with a nice beverage.