MIAMI – For many families, thoughts of Mother’s Day conjure images of flowers, gifts, and smiles. But for divorced couples, holidays may revive recollections of contentious legal proceedings and cause stress for mom, dad, and the children.
According to one Miami-based organization, families can look forward to holidays, such as Mother’s Day, and parents and children can continue to share special memories that will last a lifetime.
“Holidays can be particularly painful for divorced families,” said Susan Keyes, a Collaborative Attorney and Board Member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, (www.collaborativefamlaw.com) an organization that brings civility, a focus on mutual outcomes, and a concern for children in divorce proceedings.
“We are advocates of a Collaborative Process where the family can maintain its structure despite a divorce. This concept becomes particularly important during holidays, such as Mother’s Day.”
Based in Miami, this organization offers a voluntary process in which couples, with the assistance of a team of collaboratively-trained lawyers, financial consultants, and mental health professionals, work toward reaching a settlement on fair and equitable terms without the financial and emotional costs that often accompany litigation. Through the Collaborative Process, the parties choose to resolve the issues in their dissolution in a mutually beneficial way, outside of the court system. In a Collaborative divorce, the parties are empowered to make their own decisions and customize the terms of an agreement based upon their particular needs and interests.
At the core of this unique strategy is the development of a “post-divorce parenting plan” that acknowledges the importance of family and builds ways to approach these special events with respect and flexibility, all in the best interests of the children.
“Divorce doesn’t end the relationship,” said Deborah Thevenin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist that acts as a Collaborative Facilitator and is also a member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute Board of Directors.
“We encourage the parties to acknowledge that despite the divorce, the ex-wife is still the mother of the children and the ex-husband is still the father of the children,” Thevenin added ”The bottom line is that they treat each other with respect while acknowledging that they shouldn’t remain married.”
The Collaborative Process offers a distinct departure from the more traditional approaches to divorce and has the advantages of:
• Control of outcomes, and
• Better use of resources (money, time, energy)
The Collaborative Process helps reset the dialogue, focuses on protecting children from the effects of divorce and results in parents being better able to co-parent in the future. It allows them to discuss potential conflicts and agree to ways to resolve them that are included in the parenting plan.
“The key is to create a post-divorce family plan that can be flexible and promotes healthy loving relationships with each parent including on special holidays such as Mother’s Day,” said Keyes. :
“The parents must strive toward putting their marital differences aside and recognize that they still have a responsibility as parents. These holidays are important to maintaining a healthy family dynamic within the context of a divorce. “Keyes added.
As Thevenin stated: “Through the Collaborative Process, our professionals will guide the clients through a civil divorce, stressing that the health of the family is an important outcome. Celebrating holidays such as Mother’s Day are critical to this objective.”