I recently heard someone use the term “amicable divorce” when they described collaborative divorce. I’ve never used that term to describe collaborative divorce, and it got me wondering why. It seems like “amicable divorce” is maybe a quick and easy way to explain what I do. “I help people have an amicable divorce.” But that’s not quite right.

I don’t really expect people in the throws of the one of the most difficult life transitions imaginable to be “amicable.” I mean, why get divorced if everything is so amicable? I’m not sure I would say that I help people have an amicable divorce.

That’s not to say that we don’t see amicable divorces in the collaborative process. We do, all the time. But the collaborative process is designed to help folks who are not amicable. It’s not so much designed to be amicable as it is designed to avoid the nastiness and combativeness of court and caucused mediations.

It appeals to folks who may not be amicable, but who realize that getting nasty and combative isn’t going to be good for the kids.

It appeals to folks who want to be protected during the process of divorce, but who know that ending a marriage in a nasty divorce, isn’t going to be good for anyone, including themselves.