Amicable Divorce: Not Always an Oxymoron (just ask Ben & Jen) | The Huffington Post

A colleague recently asked for comments about this blog post. While it appears the Collaborative Divorce process has been endorsed by the North Carolina legislature and enacted into law in that state, (which is a significant step), Robin M. Lalley, Esq. believes that it is the parties’ emotional reactions (anger, disappointment and a desire for retribution) that blocks the selection of the collaborative divorce process for many divorcing couples. Certainly there is validity to this perspective but I believe we must look further to understand the core of this resistance. This article covers Amicable Divorce in more detail.

Culture of Divorce War

Our culture has celebrated the “divorce war” myth for decades. Articles appear on a daily basis about high conflict divorces that take years to end. And, movies like “The War of the Roses” have become common reference points in our divorce perspectives. So it is no surprise that many of those who initially experience ‘divorce’, flock to the ‘war response.’ This default reaction has been engineered into our collective thinking. But those divorce professionals who have studied and practiced alternative methods of conflict resolution over the years know that it is this present day perspective in our culture of divorce that needs to be reframed so that an “amicable” divorce becomes the norm and not an oxymoron.

Paradigm Shifts in Our Divorce Culture

Attorney Neil Cahn’s recent blog post, “Can you really have a Dignified Divorce” ( offers a sign that a culture shift is emerging. A well-known veteran of divorce, Alec Baldwin, was recently asked about the best way to uncouple . . . COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE was his unqualified recommendation. He said that ‘YOU WILL BE SORRY’ if you don’t use this process. Can I say that in this situation, Baldwin speaks with proper presidential aura!

And there have been other testimonials evidencing the beginning of our culture change for divorce.
In an ABA presentation on Collaborative law, the comments of two judges from different parts of the country reflect signs of a paradigm shift on a national basis.

The Hon. Donna Hitches (San Francisco, California), sent the following message to family law practioners:
“It’s good for the courts, it’s good for the litigants, it’s good for their children, and it’s good for the community. This is a system that empowers people to resolve their own disputes, and to do it in a more creative and more lasting manner than has ever been achieved by a court order. When people participate in resolving their own problems, they follow what they agree to. If I order them to do it, they are in active rebellion against me and the other parent or spouse. They are always going to try to get me to revisit the order, and their claim is always going to be based on something the other person did wrong. It’s never going to be a positive creative process that brings them to any level of resolution.”

The Hon. Ross Foote (New Orleans, LA), said this:

“You owe it to your clients to understand ‘best practices.’ And collaboration is the best arena, the best practice. You went to law school to solve human problems, not to destroy families. The adversarial domestic court does not solve problems. The higher calling of the profession is to solve those human problems in the best way possible. Accept the fact that you cannot fashion as good a result for a family as the family can do for themselves if they are given the proper tools. Embrace the concept of collaborative –learn the process, then you’ll be on board…”

Finally, there is Kim Ciesinski’s, Esq. excellent article in the New York Law Journal, “Collaborative Divorce: A Process Option Whose Time Has Come.”

Speaking as an Agent of this change, I say, we are moving toward the time when Collaborative Divorce will soon be the norm and not an oxymoron in contemporary divorce process.

Call Harriette M. Steinberg to discuss possibilities of Amicable Divorce.