What happens when everyone starts thinking about the future in a collaborative or mediated divorce?

As a collaborative attorney and mediator, the thought of having clients start thinking about the future is very fulfilling and comforting to me. Yet, I realize that to clients, this often seems very odd and is regarded as an unusual proposition. Certainly, it is important to gain an understanding of the past and how the couple and children functioned as a family. There must, however, be a balance between the past and the ongoing and future needs of the family in a divorce. I feel my job is to find the "balance." Once this "balance" is acknowledged, clients ask, "What do we do now?" I always answer, we start to work through the financial, parenting and individual needs of your divorce, which are present now and which will be present in the future. So, what happens when divorce clients focus on the future? I outline my top five reasons below.

  1. It allows for movement - a shift- in perspective. Time and energy is spent on answering the question, "what do we do now?" Because of this concentration in the here and now, the past is not front and center and the focus is on how to balance the past with the need to live and make decisions in the present and for the future.
  2. It allows for education - learning about finances, learning about the developmental needs of children and learning about individual goals. There is a wealth of information and resources available for couples going through a divorce. Every family is unique and functions as a unit. Yet, in my experience, for every family, there is always the need to answer the question, "How do other couples do this?" I answer this question by giving couples all the educational and resource tools I have accumulated in my library.
  3. It allows for the stability of employment. During a divorce, employers are not part of the divorce. But, when couples start thinking about their future, they realize that their employment is important to them. It then becomes very important to balance the emotions and issues surrounding the divorce with the need to continue to work and perform at their employment.
  4. It allows for co-parenting of children. Children continue to grow and have their own needs during a divorce. Birthdays, holidays, school activities and sports schedules as well as extended family relationships do not stop during a divorce. Thinking of the future is a gift in that it allows parents to continue to love their children and work together to ensure the continued health and happiness of their children.
  5. It allows for planning. The daunting question of, "How can I move on?" requires a lot of thought. This question begs for personal reflection and is unique to the individual. There is no "standard" answer. This is where couples must identify what is important to them, as an individual and as a parent, so that they can move through their divorce.