Nanci Smith: A Spokeswoman for Collaborative Divorce

In the spirit of narrative terminologies a la Conscious Uncoupling, and the more common Taking Space, Nanci Smith is a welcome, grown up breath of fresh air with the introduction of the term and concepts related to ‘Collaborative Divorce’. In her new book, titled Untangling Your Marriage, Smith tirelessly and fastidiously covers how to navigate one of the most difficult aspects of a relationship’s decompensation in style, class, and dealings of substance.

There’s never the feeling she’s wording anything in, and there’s an almost uncomfortable sense that she has a personal stake in communicating how to navigate such personally uncharted waters. In the spirit of this, Smith writes with a kind of gusto, an unusually upbeat tempo that never comes across as flippantly positive, or overenthusiastic about a low point in one’s personal trajectory. But it maintains that one has to face the music and face the facts, and that doing so in a manner mature and nuanced on take one has the potential to carry the day for the better, or if handled detrimentally for the worse.

This is reflected in the way she breaks down various topics reflected in the chapter headings, pertinent examples being Knowledge is Power: Is There an Alternative to an Adversarial Divorce? or The Power of an Authentic Apology at the Right Time. I personally loved the last header in the book, because it simultaneously encapsulates the related topics so well, while evoking a genuine emotive reaction because of the specific wording choice. Your Emergent Future is Now. “Collaborative divorce has grown and evolved over time through the courage and convictions of a generation of lawyers who were willing to challenge the dominant, adversarial, and litigious divorce paradigm.


Because of the efforts of these collaborative professionals across the country and the world, collaborative divorce is now recognized by the American Bar Association and state courts as a form of dispute resolution,” Smith writes. “…When you choose to engage in a collaborative divorce process, we all expect that you will treat yourself, your spouse, and the members of your team with dignity and mutual respect. You can rest assured that no one is trying to take advantage of you. You will have time and space to gather your thoughts and ask questions. The team is invested in your success.

We help you identify why you are here and what you hope to achieve by doing your divorce differently; we provide a place to discuss your hopes for your future relationships and financial security, and your concerns and fears; we help you collect and organize the relevant information that we need to help you generate thoughtful, practical, and durable resolutions. We assess the viability of your options; you make decisions on your time line, not that of the court, that works for both of you and your family.”

She adds, “…The cost of any divorce is directly related to the level of conflict and your willingness to work through the emotional issues before you tackle the legal and financial issues. More conflict and the lack of readiness to move on increase costs. If you wanted the divorce done yesterday, but your spouse just found out you want a divorce, you will be counseled to slow down and let your spouse catch up. The spouse on the receiving end is usually shocked at first but can quickly adapt to the new reality with the correct support. This requires using empathy.”

Alex Marais, posted by Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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