Divorce in Focus: Interests Over Positions


Consider for a moment why you want something, not just what you want. There’s a difference. We often take positions asking for what we want without divulging the why. It’s an argumentative tactic we learn even at a young age to ensure an outcome in our favor. 

Yet understanding the distinction between what and why can lead to a faster, or easier, settlement when it comes to divorce or custody arrangements. Collaborative law focuses on that important why — or the interests leading to the position of what the party wants. 

For example, in litigation, your spouse may state she wants the former marital residence — but what if you do, too?  In collaborative law, that position — “I want the house” — will be broken down into an interest, such as “I would like to live in a quiet neighborhood, and for both of us to live in the same school district.”

Taking a position is necessary in litigation. While your litigation attorney will do everything in his/her power to settle your case, at the end of the day, you have to take positions and the court will decide which position prevails.  

The collaborative process distills these positions into interests, which has many benefits. First, you may be able to leave the collaborative process with the ability to co-parent. Second, and even if you do not have children, the collaborative process can be less stressful on you. Third, when positions are distilled to interests, it is easier to work as a team to meet your specific needs. 

One of the biggest complaints received about litigation is the unfairness of the process, including how legislature determined what is best for every family in Pennsylvania. In stark contrast, engaging in the collaborative process creates a custody, support, and equitable distribution resolution that meets the needs of the entire family — and in which all participants work together to formulate the outcome. 

To learn about other benefits of the collaborative process and how you and your family can work through your own transitions, contact the family law attorneys at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC.