In Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives, John Naisbitt, in 1982, predicted a future that would be “High Tech – High Touch.” (Yes, I read the book when it first came out.) Since then, computers, phones, TVs, the Internet, drones, facial recognition – all of the these things – have become so prevalent that we barely notice them. The “high-touch” aspect of his prediction is less visible but it is there. Participation in yoga classes and self-help communities, for example, has been on the rise. Therapy practices are busier than ever. Many people are returning to rural, simple living to foster connections with family and community.
For now, I’d like to talk about marital relationships. I’ve always been interested in spirituality and human potential. Jean Houston, Ken Wilbur, Louise Hay have filled my bookshelves for years. A good Catholic girl, I started practicing Collaborative Law from a deep place of wanting to help families, especially children. A Collaborative case, in its highest form, provides a couple with a safe space and an interdisciplinary team to help them negotiate an out-of-court settlement that is holistic in nature. The lawyers focus on settlement, not “winning”. The financial neutral generates reports and potential solutions to the money problems. Mental health professionals on the team listen and guide the couple through processing the emotions of the transition and the practical implications in order to reach an outcome that works for all.
Lately, virtual divorce practices are popping up. Sitting at their computer, a person creates an account, enters their data into a portal, and prints their forms to get divorced. This can work for short-term marriages or when both people want the divorce and have reached agreement. I call this a “high-tech” divorce. There may be a phone conversation or two with an attorney, but the human connection is minimal.
For me, I prefer to offer a “high touch” divorce. Relationships matter. Whatever breakdown occurred during the marriage, a divorce provides a couple with an opportunity to talk things through and go their separate ways with a clean slate. Often the divorce provides a place to say things that hadn’t been said before. Things like “I’m sorry.” or “This made me really mad, but I didn’t know what to do.” Committing to a divorce process equates to taking a stand for a new future. It may not be the future either person envisioned when they said, “I do,” but clearly one person (or both) decided to change the direction the relationship was going.
We offer non-adversarial divorce services – mediation, Collaborative Process, uncontested divorce – because those processes put the clients at the center. In mediation, the mediator structures conversations between the clients to help them reach agreements. A mediator encourages respectful, future-focused productive dialogue. Collaborative Process, as it is called in Illinois, similarly strives to empower clients to use creative problem-solving to reach their own agreements rather than jockey for a superior position with the Court. We use the term “uncontested” to describe a case where both people agree on their divorce terms and want one lawyer to write it up.
My clients also have goals beyond the balance sheet. For example, to have happy, thriving children; to maintain friendship with their former spouse; to stay in contact with in-laws. These are “High Touch” goals – and carry as much importance as the financial results.
So, by all means, if your situation is straightforward and you are ready to check some boxes and end your marriage, go for it. If you feel that a more thoughtful, personal approach makes sense, give us a call. At Trinity Family Law, we stand for healthy relationships – even as a relationship concludes and transforms into something new.