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Divorce Blog

Relationship Agreements in Difficult Times

By Karen Stewart

Estranged ManThe stress in downtown Calgary is palpable and it spares no one. Even if you are in a fair financial position, you will be talking to someone who is not, and you can just feel the pain and the fear in that person’s daily life.

It is amplified when you add the stress of a troubled relationship. What can you do when you want out, but doing so is a financial or emotional disaster in the making? Do you stick it out a little while longer or pull the plug?

Assuming no safety concerns, sticking it out a little longer appears to be a viable option for those contemplating separation or divorce. When I read an article by Susan Pease Gaduoa, L.C.S.W. on an alternative agreement for partners contemplating divorce, but who were not ready to pull the plug, I was naturally intrigued. I wasn’t sure how much more I could help my clients in what I have started to see as “fear-based” instead of “interest-based” negotiation.

Ms. Gaduoa’s alternative is called a Parenting Marriage. Why not create a Parenting Marriage Agreement? Why not create a clearly defined set of guidelines to help a family through tough times? It may act as a much-needed pause button in turbulent times. I envision the voice of the children being extremely important in the agreement’s conceptualization process, and I hope that in creating this Parenting Marriage Agreement, we can help a family transition to wherever it is they need to transition to.