As Christopher hangs up the phone with a patient, she looks around the office. He and Sandra started their practice together 15 years ago; it’s their baby as much as their two children are. Trisha and Jake, their twins, are 14 and just entering high school. Although the business is successful, college expenses are coming, and this isn’t the best time to be considering a divorce. Even so, he is.
Spending every day together must have taken its toll over the years. The spark is missing for Christopher now; he and Sandra are great friends but they have different lives. It wasn’t always like that, though. When they first met two decades ago, they had an amazing connection; everyone thought so. It felt natural to go into business together, sharing their passion 24/7.
But with their entire lives tied together, how can they divorce and create an outcome that will work for the business and the family? “Is that even possible?” Christopher wonders aloud to the empty room.
About Christopher & Sandra
Christopher and Sandra met in a freshman English class at Grand Canyon University (GCU). Sandra was pursuing a degree in nursing while Christopher, also drawn to medicine, was eyeing a career as a doctor.
They were inseparable during the next few years, and as Christopher planned to move to Tucson to get his medical degree, they chose to marry so Sandra could join. She worked as a nurse at Tucson Medical Center, often taking extra shifts to help cover the bills while Christopher studied.
The twins arrived during the last year of medical school, adding a strain, but the couple was in it together. They were completely in love with the new babies, and Sandra adjusted her schedule to accommodate both Christopher’s practicums and the children’s needs.
Instead of choosing a position in the hospital when he graduated, Christopher suggested they open their own practice, which they did, relocating to Arcadia. The practice grew quickly, adding another doctor, nurses, and a few office staff members.
When not in the office, the couple loved nothing more than being with their children. They hiked together almost every weekend, took short trips around the state regularly and at least one long vacation annually. The children’s passports had acquired a number of stamps in them by the time they graduated high school.
But in the last few years, there had been a noticeable shift. Although they continued to do things as a family, as the kids got older, Trisha and Jake naturally began pursuing other interests.
Christopher spent more and more time on the golf course with his colleagues, and Sandra found herself with extra time on her hands. She started really pumping up her fitness level, and she had now completed a number of marathons and one triathlon. She had met some great friends competing across the country.
With him pursuing his own interests and Sandra pursuing hers, Christopher started to realize how stale his marriage had become. The passion is gone; has it been three or four years since they’d last made love?
When he’s honest with himself, Christopher realizes they are more roommates than a couple.
As he looks toward her future, Christopher knows that Sandra isn’t going to be in it—at least not as his wife. In a few years the kids will be going off to college, the practice is doing well, and he wants to find someone who will be part of his future – not just an anchor to the past. He’s concerned about the future of the practice. They worked hard to build it and he is sure that Sandra isn’t going to just walk away.
And there’s also the matter of paying for school, especially if the kids follow their parents into the medical field. He feels like there has to be a way to make this separation work that will allow him and Sandra, who are still great friends, continue to run the business and be active parents to their children.
Why Collaborative Divorce Works
Christopher is worried about creating animosity, hurting the kids, and damaging his reputation in the community. Furthermore, he didn’t really want to alienate Sandra. He likes her – he just doesn’t want to be married to her anymore.
After talking to his friends about his future goals and desires, Christopher conducted research and discovered collaborative divorce. He was intrigued by the process of the couple working together to end the marriage, at odds with the terrible visions he had of protracted court battles.
With so much of their lives and finances intertwined, Christopher and Sandra need a solution that takes into account their unique situation. Through the process of a collaborative divorce, they’re able to speak to a financial advisor to discuss all possible outcomes.
Even though the children are worried about their own lives and future, especially college, Christopher knows the divorce will be hard on them, and he is glad that a counselor is part of the collaborative divorce process.
Ending a 20-year marriage will be a huge shift for Christopher and Sandra, especially since they if they continue to work together in the practice, but he is confident that a collaborative divorce will help reduce the emotional tension and pave the way for a future in which the entire family will thrive.