Marriage Story is a compelling movie that was recently released on Netflix. As the story unfolds it depicts the fallout when the marriage of a once loving couple ends. I found it painful to watch at times. It depicts the damaging impact the adversarial approach has on their relationship. The couple starts out well hoping to reach agreement without the involvement of lawyers and decide to attend mediation instead but the intake process does not go well. They both lose patience with the process and walk out with no plan on how they intend moving forward. The end of the marriage is marked by problems such as a breakdown in communication, infidelity, the strains of parenting coupled with the difficulties of prioritizing one person’s career over the others. However inspite of the issues they are having the couple share a deep love for each other that is demonstrated in their narrative statements about each other.
The wife goes onto hire a high profile lawyer who takes the approach of zealously advocating for her client to the detriment of their future relationship as co-parents and the impending destruction is awful to watch. Unfortunately, this movie depicts the awful reality for many couples who end up stuck in the court system after lawyering up to fight tooth and nail to divide the “pie” and make arrangements regarding the children.
So what are the problems with the adversarial system and why should you try to avoid going down that path?
1. The adversarial system requires parties to be “positional” rather than trying to be reasonable and negotiate an outcome that works for both parties. It starts with the premise that you can’t trust your former partner so both parties are inevitably encouraged to move to opposite ends of the spectrum and make demands of each other. If they are unable to reach a decision they expect the judge to make the decision for them.
2. Leaving the entire process to lawyers with no idea as to what is involved is another problem for clients. Remember the decisions you make will impact the rest of your life so it’s important that you make good, rational decisions having sought advice on the legal position. What the law states or provides for may not ideally suit you and your family. Your family is unique so ensure you can come to an agreement that suits your family.
3. In the movie, a social worker is appointed to visit the family and make recommendations regarding co-parenting arrangements. This happens in instances where the parents are unable to mutually agree as to what will work best for their children. If you decide to delegate the decision making to a judge who has no idea about your children and their needs and is instead making a decision based on evidence set out in an affidavit- it may not set the scene for co-operative co-parenting in the future and the arrangements that are made may not be suitable for the children either.
4. Legal fees can be ruinous. Chances are that you and your partner may have heard about how costly legal fees can be when it comes to divorce. If you and your partner decide to hire a lawyer who vows to fight for you and get you a win, chances are that it will cost you a lot of money. It can also leave you with a lot of debt and a sour taste in your mouth. No one wins in divorce. When hiring a lawyer, hire someone who is mediation friendly, settlement focused and is committed to keeping the costs down.
5. Parents come of the court process with little or no skills on how to manage their co-parenting relationship moving forward. It may be useful for parents to spend their money instead learning the skills to help them manage their co-parenting relationship better.
There is a lesson to be learned from this movie. Separating couples are emotionally vulnerable and are often unable to make rational decisions at a time when they need to be making good decisions that will impact their future and the rest of their lives. They are unsuited to the adversarial process and need help and assistance to make good decisions. Courts are overrun by cases that don’t belong there. Most couples who end up in the court system don’t want to be there and may not have ended there had they received proper guidance at the outset and were educated on the options available. Separating couples need to be made aware of and educated on the variety of options available to them. A one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer. In the first instance, it is necessary to address the fears most clients are facing and help them manage their fears. Working with a Divorce Coach is a starting point. Divorce Coaching is a new concept and it is an invaluable service because a coach works with a client to assist with the practical and emotional aspects of the process. With this approach, we may just avoid more stories like “ Marriage Story.”
Please get in touch with me if you need more assistance or information on how a coach can assist you to navigate the divorce process with ease and efficiency so you can thrive and triumph through the process.
Anne-Marie Cade’s Bio
Hi, I am Anne-Marie. I am also a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner / Nationally Accredited Mediator, Certified Divorce Coach, High Conflict Coach, Parent Coordinator and founder of Divorce Right.
I have created a revolutionary new way for clients to heal and get over divorce or break-up. I am passionate about family and relationships and I work with clients to empower them to improve communication, manage conflict and reach a peaceful, amicable separation, so they can successfully co-parent together. I incorporate mindfulness practices into my coaching and mediation sessions so my clients are able to get more centered and grounded and become more mindful about the decisions they make.
This unique method helps clients manage the conflict, re-frame their relationship with their partner and finalize all the paperwork so they can move on to the next chapter of your life. I believe that this approach will ensure a positive outcome for the family. I am currently working on my soon to be released book “Peaceful Divorce, Happy Kids.”
I offer 1-1 coaching programs, group coaching, online courses, workshops, and mediation services.