No Drama Divorce…How to Manage Fear and Expectations in a Co-Mediated Divorce Process Using Collaboratively-Trained Professionals

By Patrice Courteau, MA, LMFT and Paula J. Swensen, Esq.

The ending of a marriage can be a minefield of emotions and reactions. A “no drama” divorce helps to shift a mindset from pain and unrealistic expectations to one of managing emotions, learning better communication skills, and gathering information in order to reduce anxiety of divorcing spouses.

In our experience of working together in a co-mediation process, the goal is to reduce the drama by reducing fear, managing both spouse’s expectations, and setting a course for the couple to be able to successfully navigate. We cannot overstate the value to clients of using well-trained collaborative professionals to help them manage the fear and emotion in order to achieve their best family-centered outcome.

While the legal professional is educating on the legal process and the issues presented, the mental health professional (divorce coach or child specialist) is gathering information from the spouses regarding their urgent issues and concerns, including any communication challenges.

Throughout this process, it is essential for the clients to be heard, and to feel that they have an equal voice in reaching a resolution. Often during this process, clients learn a new way to communicate with one another. If children are involved, the goal is to be able to communicate better to more effectively co-parent. Children, regardless of age, can be affected positively by parents communicating more effectively, keeping the best interest of their children at heart.

The value added by working with highly-trained collaborative professionals allows for seamless communication, timely responses to interim issues, and for maintaining momentum toward a practical, family-focused resolution. There is also value added by a mediation process that can be far more creative in its outcome than any court-imposed judgment.

A “no drama” divorce, i.e., the ending of a marriage, can also be a new beginning for the individuals going through it. We, as professionals, are continually amazed at the transformation of clients who have grown through the divorce process. We often witness a combination of compassion and practicality shown by the clients toward one another by the end of the process. This transformation does not usually occur after a litigated divorce, which underscores the added benefits of utilizing collaborative professionals to resolve the parties’ matter outside of the court process.