A woman I met last year called me recently. Her voice was pitched higher than usual, and she was talking too fast, nearly babbling. I had to ask her to slow down so that I could understand what she was saying. She apologized but it was clear that she was in complete dismay. She wanted to refer her business partner to me, specifically for a collaborative divorce. She and I had discussed the collaborative divorce process at length last year, because of her interest in being a financial neutral in the process. She later got trained, but that’s not what her call was about.

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Her business partner’s wife has become impossible for him to live with, and, as a result, has involved herself in their business, and, on several occasions, has melodramatically accused my friend of philandering with her husband, among other things.

In addition, her partner has been bringing the stress of his marital discord to work, making errors that he would not normally make, and being more difficult to get along with, shall we say, than normal.

She told me that she had explained the collaborative divorce process to him and had already “prepared the soil for me to plant,” suggesting that the collaborative approach was the right avenue to take. This would be his third divorce, so he already knew what he was in for if he went to court. She had assured him “it will be a chunk of change in the beginning, but you will spend a lot less in the long run.”

I’ve received phone calls before from sisters and from brothers, from parents and even from adult children who wanted to refer their parents into the collaborative divorce process because of the obvious benefits, as well as their hope that their parents could remain on speaking terms as time progressed and they become grandparents. But this is the first time I’ve had a referral from a co-worker, who simply wanted to resolve the conflict that had been brought into her workplace because of her partner’s marital rift.

We often forget how many people are affected by the breakup of romantic relationships. It’s not just those who are obvious.

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