Collaborative Divorce: Dropping the Sand and Playing Nice
The other day I was sitting at my at-home desk in what we affectionately refer to as the
“big room.” It is a massive upstairs living room, the windows of which face the
Presbyterian preschool next door. The weather was beautiful and the windows were open, so
the sounds of recess filled the air. I think it must have been a tough day for everyone.
The kids were at it. The teachers were running interference. It was loud from where I
I like to know what is going on in my environment. That’s a polite way of saying that I
hear conversations around me, which is a polite way of saying that I inadvertently
eavesdrop wherever I am. I am a Gladys Kravitz.1 Usually, it’s difficult to hear what is
being said on the preschool playground (which is frustrating for me).
On this particular day, however, I hit pay-dirt with a priceless quote emanating from a
stressed teacher. I think one of the kids named “Lydia” must have been ticked off.
The direction she loudly received from her teacher was “Lydia! . . . Lydia!
Put the sand down! I said, put the sand down!!” I think I know how Lydia felt.
It is in those moments when we are angry, hurt, and overwhelmed by the outrageousness of
someone’s insensitive actions that we sometimes do and say things out of character. Like the
grains of sand that could make their way into a child’s eye and cause real damage, our words
and actions have the potential to irreparably harm relationships. When parents divorce,
they will be co-parenting their children while living separate lives. It is vitally important
to the well-being of the children that the parents behave in a civil, respectful, and adult manner.
It is imperative that they have a functioning relationship.
If you are contemplating divorce, an excellent way to foster this functioning relationship
is to engage in the collaborative divorce process. In this non-litigated settlement
process, both spouses contractually commit to respectful, constructive communication.
They commit to taking transparent and constructive action to reach a mutually agreeable
This is achieved through the couple’s willingness to stay in the proverbial “boat” rowing
toward resolution for the betterment of their “restructured” family. The couple is
assisted and encouraged by a team of collaboratively trained professionals consisting of
their lawyers, a neutral mental health professional and a neutral financial planner.
In those potential “sand slinging” moments spouses can be reminded of their contractual
commitment to “play nice.” Spouses have the support and expertise of the team to encourage
them to “put down the sand.” If you would like to look back on your divorce experience with pride,
knowing you did everything possible to mitigate the trauma children inevitably face when their
parents divorce, please consider putting the sand down and committing to collaborative divorce.
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Kiki Grossman is an Orlando family law and estate planning attorney with the Winter Garden Florida law firm of Grossman & Grossman P.A. She holds a Master of Laws degree from the #1 ranked dispute resolution program in the United States, The Straus Institute at Pepperdine University School of Law. You can learn more about Kiki by visiting the Grossman & Grossman P.A. website