Marriage Story is an Academy Award nominated movie produced by Netflix about the marriage and divorce of a young couple. Scarlett Johansson plays Nicole and Adam Driver plays Charlie, the parents of Henry, who are navigating the difficult waters of the end of their marriage. The movie is a remarkable and compassionate representation of a couple who still has love for each other but must separate as marital partners.
Charlie and Nicole had a common problem to solve: How to live apart and still have their son maintain an enriching and loving relationship with each parent, especially with each parent living on opposite sides of the country. Both parents had the same objective but did not know how to achieve that objective. They did not know how to independently tackle this problem and did not have the emotional reserves or logistical tools to tackle the problem. When Nicole hires a lawyer to help with the divorce, the conflict of the couple increases. The focus of the lawyers was on dividing the couple, castigating the other parent and poisoning the parents’ remaining relationship, without regard to how this conflict would affect the parents’ finances and their ability to work together and care for their young child together beyond the marriage. The lawyers’ approach was to have their client “win” and the other parent lose.
Could this Marriage Story have been different had the parents opted for a Collaborative Divorce? Yes. The parents would have had a team of professionals whose objectives matched theirs – how to help them live apart and still have an enriching and loving relationship with their son. The lawyers would have worked to problem-solve, not problem-create. The focus would have been on a win-win for the family, not an I-win-you-lose zero sum game. In a Collaborative Divorce, the professionals would have helped Nicole and Charlie engage in a respectful process where they would have been able to explore all of the options in separating and caring for their son together. They would also have had emotional support from their Divorce Coaches. This may not have been as interesting a movie, but it would have made for a better divorce experience for Charlie and Nicole had they been a real couple.