What To Do If Your Marriage Just Isn't Going to Work:

Even under the best counseling circumstances, sometimes a marriage just isn't going to work.  Maybe you got married for the wrong reasons and never really had a connection, maybe there is a trust issue you just can't get over, or maybe you just grew apart.  Now, what?

Getting a divorce can be the single most stressful event in a person's life, and will have a long lasting impact on your children, so I always recommend trying to divorce in the most amicable way possible.  When you have kids, divorce won't end your relationship, your children will have to deal with how you and your spouse handle your post-divorce relationship for the rest of your life.  So how do you handle this in a way that is best for kids?  One way is the collaborative divorce process.

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a way to get divorced without going to court, without fighting, and without having to worry about what your spouse and their attorney are up to.

Here's how it works:

In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse agree to meet together with your collaborative attorneys as well as a divorce coach.  The divorce coach is a mental health professional specifically trained in the collaborative divorce process who will lead these meetings and help you and your spouse avoid getting tangled up in unproductive arguments or emotional pitfalls along the way.  There is often a neutral financial planner involved as well who will help you make decisions about financial issues that will be okay for both of you

All decisions will be made together with your spouse and both attorneys.  The idea is to negotiate for the best interests of both sides and the children, without any aggressive negotiations, threats, or other problems that come up in a "litigated" divorce.  Once everything is agreed to at the table, the attorneys will write everything up for you, review it with you, and when you and your spouse both agree to it, they will send it to the judge and you're done.

Why Choose Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is great for couples who want to get a divorce without fighting, without having to worry about whether your spouse or their attorney is going to try to "screw" you over, and for those with businesses who prefer to keep personal matters private.  Having a divorce coach there will help you avoid emotional pitfalls, needless arguing, guilt trips, manipulation, etc.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?

Anyone can seek a collaborative divorce.  It works well for business people with more complicated assets and debts to divide, couples who worry about how to work out parenting time with children or who are worried that their spouse may not play fair.  It works great for couples who want to get divorced without fighting so they can continue to "be a family" as much as possible for the kids' sake.

Why Do We Need a Divorce Coach, Can't We Just Meet with the Attorneys?

The divorce coach is an essential part of the collaborative divorce process.  Attorneys are great at helping you with the legal issues involved in divorce, but they aren't trained in helping you navigate all the emotional issues that may come up.  When there is concern that you or your spouse will have difficulty talking about these issues without getting into arguments, or if your spouse really knows how to push your buttons and stall the process, the divorce coach will help tactfully redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand and avoid emotional pitfalls that will cause you to waste time arguing when you're trying to move forward.  The Divorce coach may also meet with you and your spouse individually to help you prepare for how to manage your emotions and those of your spouse during the meetings with your attorneys.

How Do I Get Started?

Give me a call or send me an email and I will answer any questions you have about collaborative divorce.  We  can start by helping you find a good fit for a collaborative divorce attorney.  Remember most attorneys will do at least a free 30 minute consult with you so you can meet them and decide if they are a good fit for you.  Once you pick a collaborative divorce attorney, they can also help you invite your spouse to this process and help your spouse pick their own collaborative divorce attorney to get things started.

How Much Does Collaborative Divorce Cost?

While collaborative divorce is not as cheap as doing it yourself, it's certainly cheaper than a litigated divorce. If you and your spouse both hire attorneys separately their job will then be to get you the best possible deal they can, and divorce attorneys who prefer litigation often pride themselves on winning a case, which means the other guy loses.  Since both attorneys are trying to work hard for you,  this means more back and forth negotiations, which in turn means more billable hours to you.

Collaborative attorneys, on the other hand, want to get the deal that works best for the family as a whole.  They won't negotiate for a deal that's good for you but bad for your spouse, or bad for your kids.  When both attorneys are working for a win-win, negotiations go smoother and more efficiently, resulting in lower costs than a traditional litigated divorce.

​​Getting Your Marriage or Relationship Back on Track

Providing family counseling services in Grand Rapids and Holland, MI

Marriage and relationships can be one of our greatest joys and greatest sources of stress.  Keeping a marriage going strong takes effort and work.  If your relationship is in trouble or needs a tune-up, Solution Focused Counseling can help.  

I counsel couples who are struggling with:



Parenting issues

Blended Family issues

Trust issues

and more...

The reason Solution Focused Therapy works well in marriage counseling is that it focuses on talking about what positive changes you want to make in your marriage or relationship.  One person won't feel blamed and shamed for creating a problem.  One person won't feel ganged up on by the therapist and their spouse.  

We talk about how to strengthen the relationship itself.  This means both people get to talk about the things they would like to see happening in the future so they can say the relationship is healthy and good for them.  By focusing on the positive changes you both want to make, we avoid going back in time, trying to figure out how and why the problem got  started and who is to blame.  By focusing on your future, we keep both people engaged in the work and no one "checks out" because they are feeling blamed for the problems.  

Can't Get Your Spouse to Come to Counseling?

Sometimes, spouses can be stubborn or nervous about trying marriage counseling, but you may still want to try it to see if there is something you can do to fix things.  This can work, especially if you know your spouse well enough to be able to take a good guess about what they would want to change in order to say the marriage is better.   Many people want to be able to stay they tried everything within their power to save their marriage, even if their partner decides to end things.  

 Need to Decide if You Even Want to Stay Married First?

Some people realize they need to decide if they really want to be married at all before they try marriage counseling.  This is a big decision and weighing the pros and cons can be exhausting.  For many people, the decision not only impacts them but their children and families as well, so before making such a big decision they want to gain some clarity about which direction is best to go.  Counseling can be helpful in this regard as well.   For those who determine they want to continue working on their relationship, they can then proceed to marriage counseling with their spouse, if they choose.