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Beran Kulat: Divorce: What’s love got to do with it?

TheresBeran Kulis an attorney native Oak Lawn graduate Mother McAuley High School. She serves board directors for Collaborative Law Institute

Theresa Beran Kulat is an attorney, a native of Oak Lawn and a graduate of Mother McAuley High School. She serves on the board of directors for the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois (www.collablawil.org.).

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:23AM



Two people get married because they love each other. They begin a shared journey. Sometimes the journey ends as planned, “till death do us part.”

Sometimes one or both feels that the relationship is over and asks for a divorce. I stand for the loving divorce. Yes. It is possible.

A wife who has raised a family and supported her husband, and then looks at how she wants to spend the second half of her life and decides she needs to be free.

A man who dutifully provided for his family and worked long hours starting his business may come to see that his marriage needs to end.

These and many other divorces are not rooted in anger, hatred or betrayal. They are a product of growth and can be built on a foundation of love.

How does one divorce from a place of love? First, be gentle on yourself. Don’t criticize or judge yourself.

A loving divorce means that you love yourself, you love your children, you love your spouse and you have concluded that divorce is the most loving thing that you can do for all concerned.

Next, solidify your support system — friends, family, therapist, coach. Make sure these people stand for your highest good and are aligned with caring about your spouse despite the divorce.

If your brother says, “I never liked him anyway. Make the bastard pay!” do not consider your brother part of your support system.

Perhaps most important, hire a lawyer who honors the love that the two of you once had. You probably have heard horror stories about divorce proceedings ruining people’s relationships. Take heed.

The process of dismantling a relationship is painful enough. You don’t want the process to add more pain.

Your lawyer will guide you through the legal process. As you do with any service provider, ask for referrals. Look for people who divorced with dignity and grace. Therapists know the lawyers who stir the pot and those who calm the waters.

If you and your spouse still communicate well and can work things out on your own, develop your own agreements and show them to a non-adversarial attorney.

Consider mediation, a process where a neutral third party helps couples reach agreement outside of the court system.

If appropriate, investigate collaborative law, which began in the 1980s. Its goal is to maximize the benefits of both spouses.

In collaborative law, you each hire a lawyer to represent you, but those lawyers commit to settling the case and agree to withdraw if either spouse wants to start fighting.

Although a growing number of attorneys use “collaborative” to describe their style, keep in mind that in Illinois a “collaborative fellow” has completed at least 40 hours of mediation training and committed to ongoing skills training. The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals held its annual Networking and Educational Forum last month in Chicago.

Divorcing from a place of love takes into account more than just the duties, rights and responsibilities that people have under the law.

Some collaborative cases employ the services of mental health professionals to coach clients and their loved ones. Financial experts can work like mediators to help you both find a mutually beneficial financial outcome.

While divorce ends a marriage, when done well it can mark a new, fresh start for each spouse, their children and other loved ones.

Theresa Beran Kulat is an attorney, a native of Oak Lawn and a graduate of Mother McAuley High School. She serves on the board of directors for the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois (www.collablawil.org.).



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