If you google the word “Assumption”, you will find two definitions: 1) “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof” 2) “the action of taking or beginning to take power or responsibility”. In the practice of collaborative divorce, assumptions are an integral part of the process. An assumption can be destructive and it can be empowering.
I counsel my clients to try very hard to avoid making assumptions when evaluating a settlement proposal. Assumptions can prevent couples from reaching a settlement that is fair and tailored to their individual needs. I often hear from a client that their spouse has an ulterior motive for making a proposal and therefore the offer should not be considered. Lack of trust fuels assumptions. The collaborative team works hard to dispel assumptions and to allow all settlement proposals to be heard without judgment. This joint effort is key to reaching a resolution.
I likewise counsel my clients to focus on the second definition of assumption. Reaching a settlement is empowering. Once the difficult work of negotiating an agreement is behind them, couples are free to take power and/or responsibility for their own lives. It is an assumption or acceptance of a new role, both as an individual and as a parent. It is a very liberating undertaking, one that offers each party an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to reexamine their priorities. The skills learned through engagement in the collaborative process can be invaluable in moving forward. Especially where children are involved and couples will continue to co-parent, it is a unique opportunity to employ new decision-making skills that can only benefit all involved.