By Paul R. Pace, News staff
Julie Cronin was a teenager when she witnessed her parents’ anger and mistreatment of each other while divorcing.
The Maryland mother of two young girls feared a similar path would take place when her own marriage broke down — until she heard about collaborative divorce.
Instead of attorneys battling out the couple’s disputes in court, Cronin and her husband chose to work with a collaborative divorce team. The difference was night and day compared with her parent’s split-up, she said.
Couples not only use attorneys who work together on the solution but also trained mental health professionals, such as social workers, who aid their clients with the emotionally draining aspects of separation, divorce and child custody.
“The collaborative process is enormous for promoting the civility between the two people separating,” Cronin said. “It was much faster and less expensive. It allowed for more time to heal and less time wasted on fighting and court proceedings and a lot of back and forth.”
Collaborative divorce’s key selling points are promoting a nonadversarial, out-of-court process that — with the help of professionals — has the couple draft shared solutions to separate.
“Divorce is hard enough on parents and children without the added stress of having to defend oneself against attacks or tactics aimed to help one party ‘win,’” said Amy Mazer, who worked as Cronin’ divorce coach during her collaborative divorce.
Cronin noted that she and her estranged husband each had a different divorce coach to help them reach a resolution in their divorce and decide how they would raise their daughters.
“We had two small children at the time who were 3 and 1,” she said. “That was a major concern with us — how to help them cope with the separation and divorce.”
Mazer, an NASW member who provides therapy, collaborative divorce and mediation services at offices in Baltimore and Howard counties in Maryland, proved to be an invaluable asset for Cronin.
“She was extremely empathetic,” Cronin said. “She was supportive, warm and positive, not just about the process, but you could tell she had a lot of confidence in proceeding this way.”
The couple finalized their divorce agreement within 15 months and also incorporated a co-parenting agreement that focused on what was best for the children.
“It is immensely beneficial to have civility between the two of you so you can co-parent,” Cronin said.
From the September 2014 NASW News. View the full story.