Courts Use Collaboration Model To Try And Dial Down Emotions In Divorce Cases

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated Oct 29, 2009 at 5:53 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The shooting death of Amy Meyer White in Wells County on Tuesday illustrates how divorce cases can turn explosive, and why diffusing runaway emotions is critical to heading off violence.

Police say the 28-year old woman was shot and killed by her estranged husband Tyler White as the two were exchanging custody of their toddler.

Conflict often spills over into the court system, where combative lawyers fight over a host of unresolved matters.

The concept of "collaborative divorce" is an attempt to pursue a different strategy, one that emphasizes respect and reason over anger and resentment.

In Allen County, thirty lawyers and mental health professionals take part in a program that aims to steer willing couples to use an objective third party mediator to help settle contentious issues.

Magistrate Thomas Boyer/Allen Superior Court: " Basically, a model that goes away from the traditional concept, okay, divorce has been filed, let's race to the courthouse, let's have a hearing, let's see who's going to be the winner and who's going to be the loser, cause what reality shows us is, in these situations, nobody wins."

Collaborative divorce, of course, doesn't eliminate the need for couples to work out a host of other disputes.

Magistrate Boyer says it can be a good idea to arrange child exchanges at neutral locations, rather than at the home of either spouse.

He also discourages heavy reliance on email communication back and forth.

It’s true that can take the place of tension filled face-to-face or phone encounters.

But Boyer says ideally couples need to learn to work out their differences, and that direct contact fosters better long-term solutions.

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