Antoine de WerdThis month’s article from GMW Advocaten focuses on the good news that can follow the bad news. Relatively new to the working vocabulary of family lawyers, terms such as ‘Collaborative Divorce’, ‘Mediation’ and ‘After-Marriage’ describe the shaping of a relationship between those who have decided not to be partners any longer while still wanting to be very good parents.
Divorce is rarely good news and it takes a lot of pragmatism and good will to accomplish a ‘good’ divorce. In the case of international couples things tend to get even more complex. Statistics show that following the divorce of international couples more often than not one of the partners will move into a different country. The distance, the new surroundings and the absence of shared friends and family, previously within reach, enables them to emotionally detach much faster than in’ local’ divorces.
This fast emotional detachment can both result into a fast and correct divorce, a ‘clean cut’, or into a long and nasty fight. Both extremes occur more often in international cases than in local cases.
Dutch family law has recently adopted a newly coined term into its working vocabulary: ‘nahuwelijk’. Best translated with ‘after-marriage’, the word describes the relationship divorced ex-spouses have after their divorce. After-marriage is especially important where children are involved.
Putting the well-being of children first, Dutch divorce lawyers will always navigate their clients through the divorce in ways that will ideally enable them to have a respectful attitude towards each other in their after-marriage.
GMW Advocaten family lawyers also work through the ‘Collaborative Divorce’ formula. Collaborative Divorce is an alternative dispute resolution tool for those cases where both parties feel the need for a strong legal representation of their individual interest – during a Collaborative Divorce a separate lawyer represents each party – but agree to avoid litigation. (In mediation, the mediator is a neutral third party who doesn’t represent or advise the particular interests of either side).
Albeit a relatively new tool, Collaborative Divorce has a very high rate of success, as 95% of all cases end with a negotiated solution. This cuts out the distress and bitter fights that may follow a court imposed ruling, giving all family members the chance to move on in a smoother way. Experience shows that agreements on finances and visitation rights are obeyed in a much more consistent manner following a negotiated solution than if imposed by court. We may conclude that both Mediation and Collaborative Divorce will eventually lead to a much improved After Marriage, minimising trauma and distress to all involved.
Antoine de Werd
partner and mediator