The Proverbial Orange

Orange Fruit On Tree

provided by Lisa Dewar / Milne Selkirk
In trying to understand the parties’ circumstances and assist in resolving the outstanding legal issues, collaborative lawyers look at the parties’ hopes, concerns and fears. We ask about each issue: “why is that important to you?” For example, both parties may want to stay in the family home. However, is the house itself important? One party may want it because it is familiar and represents stability, while the other party may want it because it is a good financial investment.

Like the proverbial orange that both parties want, if we ask why it is important, each party may have a different reason for why he or she wants that orange. If one wants the rind for flavor in a cake, while the other wants the juice to quench thirst, both can have what they want by sharing the parts of the orange. If they never delve into the reasons (often emotionally driven) as to why they want that orange, they will likely continue to argue about it with hurt feelings that fuel resentments and hostility.

It is easier to reach agreement when the parties are willing to share their hopes and their hurt feelings. As a collaborative family lawyer, I appreciate the assistance of divorce coaches and child specialists who are able to navigate the emotional hurdles that arise in the parties’ communication with each other. Coaches can teach tools to help the parties get through the process of separation, to improve the way they communicate with each other, their children and other significant people in their lives.

With respect to the example of the family home, the first party’s need for familiarity and stability may be satisfied by retaining the contents of the family home and relocating those contents to a new home that is similar, while the other party’s need for a financial investment may be met by purchasing the other’s interest in the home and sharing the mortgage (and remaining equity) with an extended family member. There is no single fix that fits all situations, but through the collaborative process separating couples have a good chance of finding a resolution that fits their particular circumstances.

Lisa M. Dewar
Family Law and Mediation
Bldg #5, 21183 – 88th Avenue
Langley, BC V1M 2G5
Phone: 604-882-5015
Fax: 604-882-5025
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