A third party mental health clinician offered these tips for introducing your spouse to the Center for Out of Court Divorce (COCD):
Coming to an agreement with your partner about how to move forward with your divorce can be challenging for a multitude of reasons. It is often a time of high stress, full of conflict and poor communication. Deciding anything together might seem out of reach.
We understand, more than you know. However, there are some tips that may help you move forward as you begin to discuss utilizing the services of COCD during this difficult time.
Tip #1: Don’t rush it. If you are just now sharing your feelings of wanting to explore the idea of separation or divorce, focus on those issues first. Save a discussion about COCD for a separate conversation. Unless you think information about our program will help calm your spouse’s worry about what happens next, keep these two conversations separate. Otherwise, he or she may feel pressured and worry that you’re trying to take advantage by getting a step ahead.
Tip #2: Don’t put your spouse on the spot. Find a time and space to discuss COCD privately, rather than in public where others might listen, including your children.
Tip #3: Enlist the help of a neutral third party. If you and your spouse are seeing a mental health counselor for yourself or your children, ask the therapist to help you talk about COCD as one possible path. If you and your spouse aren’t speaking to one another, consider emailing him or her a link to COCD’s website (we can provide sample language to help you draft this email), or consider asking someone your spouse respects to present the information for you.
Tip #4: Present COCD as an option, not as a demand. It might help to say: “I researched this local out-of-court divorce program, it looks good because there is such a strong focus on the health of our kids and our future family, but I want to know what you think. Can I send you the link?”
Tip #5: Let them come to their own decision. Your spouse should do their own research and make their own decision about whether COCD can work for them. If he or she is reluctant to look over our materials, you might say: “I hope you can put your doubts aside until after you’ve looked into it. Then decide. If you still have serious doubts, we’ll find another way.“
Tip #6: Don’t insist upon an immediate answer. A lot is at stake. Putting pressure on your spouse to make an on-the-spot decision is likely to trigger an immediate “No.” Instead, give your spouse time to look into COCD without feeling pressured.
Tip #7: Emphasize the positives. When your spouse is ready to talk about whether our program could work for your divorce, a conversation like this might go over better: “COCD is about educated decision-making. It was developed by experienced professionals who are dedicated to finding less adversarial ways of helping families divorce. It is less expensive, both emotionally and financially, than traditional divorce—and it keeps us, rather than the legal system, in the driver’s seat. It will save money that can be used for the children or to help us get started in our new lives.”
Tip #8: Pay attention to the doubts. Consider the questions and hesitations you had when you first looked into COCD. Your spouse may have the same ones. State your questions openly, and then show them the information you found that addressed your concerns. You might say, for example: “I was worried that we don’t know enough about the law to do a divorce without our own divorce lawyers. But COCD has lots of easy-to-understand educational materials prepared by lawyers that will tell us what we need to know. And if we get stuck, the attorney mediator will help us look at all our options so that we can make a good decision. And with COCD, we always have the option to seek the help of an outside divorce attorney during the process, if we choose.”
Tip #9: Think and act collaboratively. If your spouse is like most people getting divorced, they may be scared and/or angry. Don’t make it scarier by acting scary. Don’t make them angrier by acting angry. Keep a calm tone, a patient manner, and a problem-solving approach. This will not only help you both agree on a program, but will serve you throughout the entire divorce process as you work to make decisions together in the best interest of your children.
Tip #10: You don’t have to do this alone. While we are unable to contact or “convince” your spouse to use our separation and divorce services on your behalf, we do have the tools to help you, or a friend or family member, share information. We’re also here to answer any questions and can meet with you, together or separately, and at no cost, to learn more about COCD’s approach and get your questions answered. Contact us today. We’re here to help.