Alternative dispute resolution has been part of the family law landscape for a while. The Texas legislature granted attorneys and their clients the opportunity to use the mediation process in 1987 and the collaborative divorce process more recently in 2001. It’s not uncommon for people to confuse collaborative divorce with mediation, or wonder what the differences are between the two and … [Read more...] about Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation: A Comparison
Sherry came home from caring for her ailing mother in Delaware to find that 2/3 of the furniture had been removed from her house and the cat had been kidnapped. Surprise- Joe, her husband, wants a divorce. That is how she found out. This sounds like the beginning of War of the Roses, not the beginning of a collaborative divorce case, but it was. Why would Sherry select the collaborative … [Read more...] about Reasons that People Select the Collaborative Process (even when the cat is kidnapped)
On occasion the malady I refer to as “The 4 A.M. Brain Bounce Syndrome” (BBS) launches a cerebral onslaught that robs me of sound sleep, pumps up my frustration level and escalates my blood pressure. You ask, “What is the Brain Bounce Syndrome?” I believe it to be a fairly common but medically undiagnosed phenomenon that afflicts a significant percentage of the population. It is characterized … [Read more...] about The 4 A.M. Brain Bounce Syndrome – (BBS)
This is not a story about divorce or collaborative law or anything even remotely related to legal stuff. This is a story about “chance” – those who need a chance and those who take a chance. Please bear with me as I relate the tale of Jackson and Louis and “chance”. When we first met Jackson and Louis my wife and I referred to them as Dog 1 and Dog 2. It was clear that Dog 1 and Dog 2 had … [Read more...] about Chance – A Divorce Parable
Jody Johnson and Honey Sheff, both CDD members, presented on July 20th at a gathering of collaborative law professionals in Frisco. The talk centered on effective strategies that collaborative professionals can employ when facing challenges with clients. These problems can cover a broad spectrum–from clients who do not really want the divorce, those who want to control matters beyond their … [Read more...] about CDD members present in Frisco to Collaborative Divorce Professionals
What does Advocacy Look Like for the Attorney in the Collaborative Divorce Process? Litigation and Collaborative Divorce models both involve significant negotiation. Most litigation cases end in a negotiated settlement prior to trial, but the negotiation is frequently under the pressure of looming deadlines, such as temporary hearings, depositions and other discovery deadlines, mediation, and the … [Read more...] about Advocacy in the Collaborative Process
The Power of the Collaborative Divorce Process The Collaborative Divorce Process, at its core, is a problem-solving practice; a structured method designed to create an optimal solution from a set of common and conflicting interests held by multiple parties. The Collaborative process has inherent power, as its focus is on interests, options, consequences and optimal solutions. By following the … [Read more...] about Structure and Neutrality: Power Source in Collaborative Divorce
According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the number of divorce filings is one third higher in January than any other month. Resolutions–decisions to change what is not working–might include a marriage. Or perhaps a couple puts off the unavoidable in an effort to “save” the holidays. Regardless the reason, this time can bring an interesting opportunity. Any time of year, … [Read more...] about Hope for the Holidays
…from a Mental Health Professional’s Perspective Working as a Neutral Mental Health Professional, on collaborative teams, gives me a unique view of the process and my role. I have learned so many things from parents who are going thru a divorce, or are already divorced, and working to build a strong co-parenting relationship. It is not unusual, when I first meet people who have chosen this … [Read more...] about Building Bridges in the Collaborative Process
On a vacation in Zagreb, Croatia, I walked down a cobblestone street and came upon a small building with a sign that read, “Museum of Broken Relationships.” The words seemed so out of place, I was drawn in. I realized upon entering that it was a museum of sorts, but one that houses recent items. The concept was to ask people from anywhere in the world to send one item (of any size and shape), … [Read more...] about Collaborative Divorce: The Relationship After the Decree
First of all, you may feel alone, but you are not; it is not at all unusual to feel out of sorts or a little off at the holidays, even if it isn’t your first holiday post divorce. But being “thankful” in the context of divorce can feel like a bad joke or at least an oxymoron. But being conscious of this likelihood might make it easier when the maelstrom arises. Mental Health Professional Linda … [Read more...] about For the Spouse Without the Kids this First Thanksgiving
The MHP is neutral. That is an essential component of the mental health professional’s power in the collaborative divorce process. That said, if I’m on anyone’s “side,” it would be have to be that of the kids. My goal is to enable their parents to make the most informed decisions and to learn how to communicate and resolve conflict moving forward so that they can be the best co-parents that … [Read more...] about Mental Health Professional: Children’s Best Asset in Collaborative Divorce
The Mental Health Professional (MHP) manages the collaborative divorce process much like an emcee does any large-scale event, handling many moving parts to help create an outcome that is goal driven and designed to meet the clients’ needs. He or she facilitates the process that empowers adults undergoing divorce to structure a customized, individualized plan tailor made to move their family … [Read more...] about Why Does Collaborative Divorce Need a Mental Health Professional on the Team?
In the team approach of collaborative divorce, the Neutral Financial Professional (FP) can be an enormous asset. Instead of each client paying the billing rate for his or her family lawyer to work up their financials separately (the protocol in litigation), the collaborative team has only one financial player, so only one fee to be split between the clients. Additionally, the FP is a financial … [Read more...] about Benefits of Using a Financial Professional in Collaborative Divorce
Within the collaborative divorce process, in addition to each client engaging their own divorce attorney, two “neutral professionals” round out the team to reach a divorce settlement amenable to both parties: a mental health professional (MHP) and a neutral financial professional (FP). For this post, we will focus on the financial professional: who he or she is, what he or she does, and why he or … [Read more...] about What is a Neutral Financial Professional in Collaborative Divorce?
Critics of collaborative divorce argue that the majority of cases settle before trial anyway, often at mediation, so why risk having to withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached? Why would any lawyer sign an agreement compelling withdrawal from representation if the case ends up in court (as the collaborative divorce process requires)? For someone who is unfamiliar with collaborative … [Read more...] about How Collaborative Law Differs from Mediation
It isn’t a touchy-feely job title: divorce attorney. Law school training sets a certain scene: a courtroom, a winner, a loser. The attorney’s job is to find evidence of wrongdoing from the opponent and to form an argument to prove their client is innocent. In this inherently adversarial process, attorneys do not make friends of the “other side.” For many areas of practice, such as insurance … [Read more...] about How Collaborative Divorce Has Made Me a Better Lawyer
Litigation and Collaborative Divorce models both involve significant negotiation. Most litigation cases end in a negotiated settlement prior to trial, but the negotiation is frequently under the pressure of looming deadlines, such as temporary hearings, depositions and other discovery deadlines, mediation, and the trial date. The court system is in control, negotiation feels pressured, and it may … [Read more...] about What does Advocacy Look Like for the Attorney in the Collaborative Divorce Process?
1. Choose with Care the Time to Talk Do not bring up divorce a.) at the end of a difficult day for either of you and/or b.) in front of your children, ever! A “state of readiness” exists when it comes to divorce. Spouses are rarely in the same spot at the same time. One or the other may need to move more slowly than anticipated when adjusting to the shock of a new reality. Collaborative … [Read more...] about Top Ten to Consider Before Talking Collaborative Divorce with your Spouse
Most people are uncomfortable with and adverse to major life change. This is human nature. It is not surprising that when people face separation and impending divorce, they grapple with disorientation, disillusionment, and even outright fear. With the reality of an uncertain future, vulnerable and off-kilter, perception is often a sense of being without protection. Communications can register … [Read more...] about Transitions: How Do We Feel Safe in Times of Change?
Good question. Over the past few years, over countless hours, Texas proudly becomes the first state to develop a methodology for recognizing collaborative professionals who have attained the highest standards of collaborative practice. The focus of the work has been to offer the public a peer-recognized means for evaluating the skill set of collaborative professionals to help potential clients … [Read more...] about What Exactly Is a “Collaborative Divorce Professional”?
As practice groups “age,” the enthusiasm of its members often declines. This can be reversed with a clear sense of awareness of the occurrence and a focused attention for solutions. The mission and goals of the group must be thoroughly and specifically articulated. Begin with a simple question. “What do we want?” Is it increased referral sources, opportunities for additional education? Is … [Read more...] about Spice Up, Enthuse, and Reignite Your Collaborative Practice Group
I’ve practiced divorce law for more than forty years. Just go with me here. A useful phrase to employ when consulting with someone in the throes of divorce is “temporary insanity.” Not that these people are certifiable, of course—though that soon to be ex-spouse might have you think otherwise. And that’s part of the issue. The emotional upheaval and sense of loss that surround the process can … [Read more...] about Divorce Options, Attorney Obligations, and the Light at the End of the Tunnel
Collaborative divorce has at its roots the idea of interest-based negotiation. Robert Fisher’s foundational book from 1981, Getting to Yes, sets forth the idea of what he termed “principled negotiation.” The idea is, when a person knows what is a fixed need and what is a flexible need, he or she can enter a negotiation with a clear frame of reference as to what is absolutely necessary, or … [Read more...] about Why Interest-Based Negotiations are a Cornerstone to Collaboration
After thirty plus years of experience—former family law judge, current family law attorney—my grasp of what it means to be a “good lawyer” has evolved. Being a good lawyer can be tricky. In divorce law, in particular, the definition of “good” deserves scrutiny. Emotionally, financially, and legally, divorce is scary. Many clients make life-altering decisions from an unconscious place of fear: … [Read more...] about The Good Lawyer, The Junkyard Dog, and Why Collaborative May Just Be Your Answer