Respect and kindness: a Joint Commitment in Collaborative Practice

May 11, 2017 by Sue McArthur

Respect and Kindness

When relationships break down, respect and kindness go out of the window and feelings of anger and mutual mistrust can take over, driving couples towards an increasing spiral of conflict as they negotiate over arrangements for children, finances and so on.

Separating couples who use the Collaborative Process avoid this by signing up to a clear set of ground rules about how they will work things out between them, with the assistance of their specially trained Collaborative Family Lawyers. The ground rules are contained in a document called the Participation Agreement (PA).

The PA is signed by both the couple and their lawyers, along with any other professionals who may be involved in helping the couple to work through what they need to resolve. This could include for example, family consultants.

A key feature of the PA is the Joint Commitment. It sets out in clear language what is expected of all participants. Examples of positive behaviours that everyone will work with are

·    respect and kindness

·    a creative and constructive approach

·    a commitment to truth

·    good faith and integrity

·    a focus on the future, fairness and the interests of any child involved being our goals and our guides

·    a focus on the underlying things that are important to us

·    commitment and energy to be properly prepared and to meet deadlines and to help the process reach its conclusion

As important are the negative kinds of behaviour which by signing the PA, we commit to avoid. Examples include

·    criticism and sarcasm

·    taking positions, making threats or issuing ultimatums

·    denigrating the other person

·    dwelling on the past

·    failing to express our point of view

Couples, lawyers and other professionals signing up to the Collaborative Process are in no doubt about what the process expects of them. By being clear about how the process will work at the outset, and what kinds of behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable we can all ensure a more effective process, which enables separating couples to put their family’s needs first.

Talk to a Collaborative Family Lawyer for more information about how the Collaborative Process could help you and your family.