While every case is unique, and every person has his or her own needs and concerns, Separating Together attorneys have found that many situations raise four questions or four conversations.
- How do we physically separate from one another? This topic includes not only the logistical details of who will move and when, but also includes co-parenting issues (Do the children move out as well? What will their new schedule be?), property issues (What items are taken or left? Will the house be sold or refinanced?), and financial issues (Who continues to pay the mortgage or rent, and for how long?).
- How do we create a co-parenting schedule that allows each of us to maintain a loving and meaningful relationship with our children? How do we help our children to feel safe and secure during this time of transition?
- How do we divide our assets and debts in a way that makes sense and is manageable?
- How do we make the income that once supported one household support two households?
These questions invite you to think about various options and have a respectful dialogue about possibilities. The answers to these questions take time to figure out, which is why the collaborative process usually requires four or five roundtable meetings with the Separating Together attorneys. As we discuss and brainstorm about the choices that are available, we gradually work towards a resolution that works for both parties and the children.
Separating Together attorneys use Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to guide their conversations. NVC emphasizes observations, feelings, needs, and requests. It allows each person to kindly and peacefully make requests of the other person and to consider the requests made by the other person. Our clients are often amazed at how different their conversations are when they use a new way of speaking. And the bonus is that when problems arise in the future, this new tool will be available to help you handle them cooperatively and respectfully.
Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?
Mary Manin Morrissey