Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary process, which means that both parties need to agree to use the process.
More than that, both parties need to believe this is the best way to move forward. If one is only paying lip service, participating only because it is what the other spouse wants, they do not have the investment to stick with it when the going gets tougher.
Often a client will come into our office and after we talk about the various options for handling a divorce, they realize that they would like to use the Collaborative approach because it offers a way to reach agreements while reducing conflict, and also offers professional support they need.
The question is how they present the Collaborative option to their spouse.
It may help if you can get some basic materials about Collaborative Divorce from your attorney, along with a shortlist of other Collaborative attorneys the spouse can talk to.
The next step is to talk to your spouse.
I would suggest finding a low-stress time when your spouse will be willing and able to pay attention to what you are saying. This may be tough when divorce is in the offing, but there should be some times that are at least better than others – not while you are fighting, and not while your spouse is busy with something else.
You could lead in with whatever it was that has appealed to you most about Collaboration. For instance, you might say that you really hope the two of you can get through the divorce without fighting, and that you have found out about a method that can help you do that. Ask your spouse if that is something that would appeal to them as well. If so, that is a good time to tell them a little more about what you learned, as well as give them any materials and attorney names that you received from your attorney.
If your spouse does not seem interested, you may want to wait until they may be more willing to at least listen, or you could try asking them how they would ideally like to see the divorce process go.
If they are determined to not be cooperative, then it may be time to discuss other options with them such as mediation with attorney support or traditional litigation.
Litigation is really the only approach that you can pursue without the other parties’ cooperation. Once you have attempted to talk to your spouse about options, you may want to circle back with your attorney to let them know how the conversation went and where you see things going from there.