The In-Between Zone is the vulnerable space between the life you have known and the life that is not put back together yet. It is full of chaos, confusion and fear. It is the emotional version of a literal earthquake.
- Have you been shaken to your core?
- Do you feel your life is scattered in pieces around you?
- Are you worn out from trying to keep things from falling apart?
These are common experiences for those in the middle of a transition. And divorce is a huge transition.
Many metaphors have been used to describe the In-Between Zone. One I particularly like is Star Trek’s transporter. While being transported, the person or item is broken down to mere molecules, which remain in flux until they are reassembled in a new place, often on an entirely different planet. Especially if you were in a long relationship, you may have all the feelings of being dumped onto an alien world. Time is different. The geography is different. The culture is different. If you are trying to retrain to reenter the job market, you may find that the skills that once served you no longer do. The world has changed around you. You may wonder how you will survive.
The only thing certain in the In-Between Zone is uncertainty—an uncertain outcome, an uncertain identity, an uncertain future. Uncertainty makes us afraid. We feel anxious when we have so little control. Like a car floating in a river, we steer like crazy but we are still at the mercy of the river. It’s hard not to worry about what is around the next corner.
In the In-Between Zone you may feel as though:
- you’ve been broken apart
- a part of you has died
- your anger is out of proportion
- you experience symptoms of grief
- your memory is less efficient or nonexistent
- you are numb
- you are lost and disoriented, much like a hiker lost deep in the woods
- you are vulnerable and scared
- your life is in complete flux
- your drive to find stability becomes all consuming
As hard as it is, and as little prepared as we are for such an experience, we must learn to embrace the uncertainty as our new reality in order to deal successfully with our situation. When we’re okay with not knowing, the situation, to a degree, becomes an adventure instead of a nightmare. We can be curious instead of full of dread. As best you can, take each moment as it comes without piling on regrets of the past or fears of the future. One moment at a time is more manageable.
Help with your relational dynamics and the emotional impact you are experiencing, is one of the components to the Collaborative Divorce team. Ask your Collaborative professional about it.
This article is excerpted from Beyond Divorce: Stop the Pain, Rekindle Your Happiness and Put Purpose Back in Your Life by Jeannine Lee. Used with permission. Contact Jeannine 303-746-7000
Origins of Collaborative Practice in Boulder
By Daryl James, Attorney At Law (303) 447-9688
Collaborative practice arrived in Boulder in 2003, after a group of lawyers heard Pauline Tesler, a leading proponent for collaborative practice in California, speak in Denver. After hearing her, a group of legal, mediation and mental health professionals formed the Collaborative Law Professionals of Boulder County. Our goal was to give every divorcing couple a choice in how to divorce, and to include a collaborative approach in the range of available options. Because this is a different way for professionals to approach their clients’ divorce, we knew we needed more training. So we started monthly practice group meetings, which continue to this day, in which we discuss ways to help our clients negotiate more effectively and get better divorce outcomes.
Evolution of Collaborative Divorce
Over time, we have refined our technique. At first, lawyers many times did not involve mental health and financial professionals in their collaborative cases. This approach, while consistent with the traditional, lawyer-led representation of clients in traditional divorce representation, was found to not be the best way to handle the typical collaborative divorce. We learned that a better, cost-effective approach is to bring in a neutral collaborative divorce facilitator and neutral financial professional at the very beginning of the case. Key to these professionals’ roles in the case is their neutrality, which puts them in a position to speak necessary truths to the divorcing couple and their lawyers, while freeing the lawyers to truly represent their clients.
A Better Identity
Because our group comprises not only lawyers, but also mediators, mental health professionals and financial professionals who fulfill these valuable and necessary functions in a collaborative divorce, we changed our name.
Why do we need a facilitator in our collaborative divorce?
Daryl James Attorney at Law, 303-447-9688
Collaborative negotiation is a team effort, and each member has a role. Lawyers provide legal representation, making sure their clients are aware of the legal concepts and procedures used in divorce. They consult independently with their clients and support them during meetings with advice and in-the-moment help saying what needs to be said. The financial neutral provides unbiased financial analysis, advice on the effect of various settlement scenarios and help completing the financial disclosures which are required in a divorce. The facilitator’s role is to manage the process. So, what does that mean?
Facilitator Supports Emotional Reactions During Negotiation
While face to face negotiations are a tried and true way to come to the best agreements, that doesn’t mean they are always easy. Even the best intentions may not prevent a negotiator from emotional upset. In fact, it’s common (and normal) for parties in a negotiation to go through a range of emotional reactions. Depending on how the situation is then handled, the negotiation can reach a higher level of meaning, making a better agreement possible, or it can break down through misunderstanding or hard feelings. That’s when the expertise of the neutral facilitator is needed.
Highly Trained at Spotting Motivations and Feelings
Our facilitators are highly trained in spotting and dealing with underlying motivations and feelings. As an unbiased participant, the facilitator is uniquely positioned to maintain order in the room, because she does not represent either party. This frees her to observe each party’s behavior and suggest ways to deal with any difficulties that arise. One of the lawyers simply cannot do this in any way that does not give cause for offense to his own client or to the other spouse.
The facilitator also manages the production of agendas, minutes of meetings and coordinates communications between the team. This fosters efficiency in the process, as well as effective communication to the parties regarding the status of the case.
The net result of including a neutral facilitator in your collaborative divorce is better communication, a more efficient process and an environment most conducive to making the best agreement possible. That’s why you need the facilitator.
Why should a financial professional be involved in my collaborative divorce?
By Daryl James, Attorney At Law; (303) 447-9688
This question comes up regularly. Having already hired a collaborative attorney, what is the value in the added expense of the neutral financial professional? The answer lies in that person’s expertise and neutrality.
While your lawyer might have almost as much knowledge in the financial effects of divorce, it’s likely that the financial professional knows more. Perhaps more important, the neutrality of the financial professional insures that the information and advice she conveys is not slanted toward one party, which insures that everyone in the room can hear and believe her. An added value is that she can help you prepare the financial disclosures needed for the divorce filing.
This can be a time-consuming task, and the financial professional helps both parties accomplish it in the most efficient way possible. Finally, many divorces involve tax and appraisal issues that necessarily involve a financial professional, so having someone on board streamlines the process.
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Divorce is an Emotional Event
By Jeannine Lee, Collaborative Divorce Facilitator 303-746-7000
The Two Big Ones: Grief and Anger
Grief and anger are two powerful emotions present throughout the divorce process. They will show up intermittently throughout. In the beginning, one or the other will be stronger. Thankfully, they don’t show up with equal intensity at the same time. Working through the emotions to a healthy completion is important. The collaborative process assists, rather than exasperates such working.
Woven in and around anger and grief, depending on circumstances, are other major emotions such as loneliness, guilt, rejection, anxiety, shame, and fear, making for a difficult emotional soup. Working through these emotions brings relief. It can also bring discouragement when you find yourself looping back through emotions you thought you’d left behind. There is a dance or orchestration between emotions as healing takes place. It is not a linear process.
Emotions as Guides
Ultimately, in order to move on with our lives, we need to disengage from our former partner and our former life. Our emotions are both our guides and our gauge as to how we’re doing at this. We can’t handle experiencing all of the emotions at one time, so our psyche chooses the strongest emotion in any given moment to concentrate on. When that emotion is at a manageable level, it will move on to the next one that needs attention. They play off of each other throughout the divorce process, intensifying and calming as you work through them or as situations change.
Honor yourself as you turn your attention inward—your emotions need your attention now. You will honor yourself by acknowledging that this is happening, by knowing your needs and tending to them. It is not selfish to take care of yourself.
Anger, grief, your self-worth, and how much you’ve disengaged from your former partner and are creating your new life are all linked together. This offers a good gauge for progress in your process. It is unfortunate but true that you just have to be with your emotions for a time. They do eventually settle. Having a collaborative facilitator involved in your process helps you understand what is normal, how to present your best self, and offers support as you navigate this very difficult time in your life.
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Your collaborative attorney provides you with personal and specific legal advice as he or she would in any divorce. The end goal of collaborative divorce is meeting the ongoing needs of you, your spouse, and your children. Your collaborative attorney keeps those end goals in mind throughout the needs-based negotiations, which provides a win-win, rather than a I win-you lose result, which is the common outcome of traditional litigation.
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The divorce settlement will, in part, determine your financial well-being for many years to come. The guidance of a financial specialist will help protect your and your family’s interests. Reviewing all assets and incomes, the financial specialist will assist you in analyzing viable financial options for your future.
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Divorce is far more than a legal proceeding. Divorce is a major life transition that can wreak havoc on your emotions and your ability to make wise legal and financial decisions. A key professional on the collaborative team is the Collaborative Divorce Facilitator (CDF) who provides support and guidance to manage the pain and strain of transitioning your relationship, while focusing on your goals for the present and the future. Read More.
Comments Off on Reaching a collaborative parenting plan
Children may suffer most from divorce and be least able to understand and express their feelings. Communication with parents may be difficult, if not impossible. The child specialist, an individual skilled in understanding children, will work with you and your spouse (and directly with your children if you think it necessary) to help you determine what is in your children’s best interests for the future.