My wife of 12 years and I are strongly considering separating. The pandemic lockdowns, with both of us working from home, exposed some serious problems in our relationship.
When we finally acknowledged this, we got some counselling, yet still felt we needed to move apart. But we both got upset when the counsellor mentioned “child custody issues” because we’re equally committed to sharing the raising of our children (ten and eight).
A friend who’s divorced told me there are new approaches to the legal process and shared parenting. How do we find out about this without starting to pile up lawyers’ fees just trying to get information?
Having been the recipient these past 16 months dominated by COVID-19, of advice-seeking letters from couples feeling their unions crumbling, I’d been curious myself about how the legal system has been handling the load.
I’ve learned that the new approach is called “Collaborative Practice” of family law, and has been used in Ontario by a growing number of lawyers trained in collaboration techniques for well over a decade.
Think “cooperation,” but allowing for both leadership and equality in the lawyer-client discussions.
What’s unique in this process - especially from the combative divorce stories we’ve all heard about - is that the wife and husband are accompanied by their own lawyer at joint (still virtual) discussions of what matters to each spouse... with a voluntary free exchange of information. That process continues until they reach an agreement without going to court.
It puts divorce finally in the hands of the people who own their decision, for their own lived reasons. And it offers specialist opinions that matter.
Depending on specifics e.g., disputes regarding children’s live-in schedules with each parent, a collaborative-trained social worker may be invited by the lawyers to help with parenting plans until agreements are reached. Similarly, in complicated financial issues, an accountant or tax specialist, also collaboration-trained, may be invited.
Says Toronto lawyer Russell Alexander, a committed advocate of the process with 15 years of collaboration cases to date, “Family-law lawyers can be warriors or peacemakers. Collaborative lawyers are peacemakers. They find a solution.”
The pandemic has pushed this approach ahead - to the clients’ benefit of avoiding court costs and long waits for the case to be heard.
Alexander mentions the “emotional toll of going to court,” wherein a third party, a judge, hears only the two lawyers, and then decides the most important things in the two parents’ lives. Clients are much more satisfied with this process.”
The only situations where collaboration doesn’t work well, he says, is where there’s been abuse, and a power imbalance exists between the couple.
Bottom line - if the process doesn’t work for someone who decides instead to go to court, then the participants, lawyers and other professionals such as social workers or accountants involved in the process, withdraw. The parties must then start over with new lawyers.
I’ve become sexually interested in feet. Many websites that contain pictures/photos of sexy feet and legs are pornographic sites. I’ve heard that 30-40% of men are foot fetishists but few admit this publicly. I’m thinking about creating a website providing pictures/videos which are non-porn-oriented to these crowds. Your thoughts?
Podophilia is the most common form of sexual fetishism, in which feet, toes, ankles, shoes, stockings, and even socks are a turn-on. Avoid the unsavory world of pornography which exploits both women and men. Instead, research and test the more specialized market for your website.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the wife who took a new job before discussing it with her husband, though they have young children and she may have to travel and be away overnight (May 21):
“I’m a woman who had a similar thing happen in my long-term marriage.
“Her job acceptance might be a signal that she’s re-evaluating the relationship, maybe thinking of leaving it. He could ask her if she's dissatisfied in the marriage, say that he'd like to support her and improve their communication, suggest couple's counselling.
“He could ask himself if he's really listening/listened to her. Does he invoke the "yes, but..." response, or ignore/be deaf to concerns in other ways?
“When I tried to tell my husband about issues that concerned me, he formed his rebuttal before hearing all I had to say.
“In a long marriage (especially those with kids) communication patterns, healthy and otherwise, become entrenched. Time to pay attention.”
Tip of the day:
Separating spouses have options in lawyers’ approaches to the wants/concerns of both husband and wife.