The Collaborative professional team includes two Collaborative Coaches, one retained by each of the divorcing spouses. The Collaborative Coaches are mental health professionals, but they do not work with the spouses in a therapeutic context. The Coaches are engaged for the limited purposes of working with the spouses in the Collaborative process. The role of each Collaborative Coach is to:
- Help identify and prioritize the concerns of each divorcing spouse;
- Work with the divorcing spouses in making effective use of conflict resolution skills;
- Assist the spouses in developing effective co-parenting skills and a parenting plan;
- Work collaboratively with the divorcing spouses and their Collaborative Attorneys and other team professionals to enhance communication and reduce misunderstandings;
- Facilitate the divorcing spouses in keeping the collaborative process moving toward resolution; and
- Support the divorcing spouses in the legal process and in the transition to a new co-parenting and extended family structure.
The Collaborative professional team includes two Collaborative Attorneys. Each spouse has his or her Collaborative Attorney, whose engagement to represent the spouse is a limited purpose engagement that does not extend beyond the Collaborative Process. In individual meetings between each spouse party and that spouse’s attorney, and in joint meetings with both attorneys and both spouses and, in some instances, with other Collaborative team professionals, the Collaborative Attorneys will:
- Diligently represent the interests of their respective clients, while maintaining a commitment to the Collaborative Process and its overall goals;
- Help the clients understand the legal framework within which the divorce process takes place, including opportunities for creative and flexible problem solving in the resolution of disputed issues;
- Work cooperatively with the other Collaborative Attorney and the Collaborative professional team to help the parties arrive at an agreed settlement of all issues, which is most appropriate for the entire family; and
- Be available to assist in working out new solutions as the parties’ lives change.
Collaborative Child Specialist
The Collaborative Child Specialist is a neutral professional retained by both of the divorcing spouses if they have minor children. The Collaborative Child Specialist will:
- Work with each child of the divorcing spouses to provide that child with an opportunity to voice concerns regarding the divorce;
- In some cases, interact with the child’s teachers, coaches, or therapists to
- Provide parents with information and guidance to help their children through the divorce process and its aftermath;
- Give information to the coaches and parents that will help in developing an effective co-parenting plan; and
- Support each child’s adjustment and keep each child’s voice present through the transition to a new and restructured family system.
Collaborative Financial Specialist
The Financial Specialist, who is also a neutral retained by both divorcing spouses, will work with them to:
- Provide financial guidance, planning support, and budgeting throughout the divorce process;
- Assist in the compiling, organization, and analysis of financial information, income and expenses, and assets and liabilities;
- Assist the divorcing spouses in developing financial options for the transition to new financial and economic circumstances;
- Assist the parties in assessing financial arrangements for their children as their needs change
The Role of the Collaborative Clients
Each Client will participate in the process with honesty and good faith with the goal of attaining a resolution that meets his or her individual needs, the needs of the Clients’ children, and the needs of the family as a whole – because, while the Clients’ marriage may end in divorce, their family relationships do not. Each Client is responsible for working with the Collaborative Professional Team, providing information, gathering documents, and working within the Collaborative process to attain the goals of both clients and achieve a resolution that is workable for all members of their family.
At the outset of the Collaborative Process, each Client will agree, among other things, the he or she will:
- Not remove a minor child or children from the state without the prior written consent of the other party or a court order;/li>
- Not cash, borrow against, cancel, transfer, dispose of, or change the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage including life, health, automobile and disability insurance;
- Not transfer, encumber, conceal or dispose of any real or personal property or similar rights or possessions without the written consent of the other party or a court order, except in the normal course of business or to provide the routine necessities of life;
- Maintain the confidentiality of all content (written or oral) of the sessions with Collaborative Professionals and under no circumstances use any such content in any future adversarial divorce;
- Engage in the Collaborative Process, asserting only legitimate and reasonable interests and needs, while recognizing the legitimate and reasonable interests and needs of the other party and the parties’ children, and while working to create solutions that are in the best interest of the family as a whole;
- Participate in the Collaborative Process in good faith and with a sense of integrity, honesty, cooperation, and openness, and work to protect the dignity and self-respect of the other party and all others involved in the Collaborative Process;
- Not abuse the Collaborative Process or take advantage of the other party or of the inadvertent mistakes or miscalculations of others, including the Collaborative Professionals, but rather to identify them so that they can be corrected;
- Provide full, honest, and open disclosure of all pertinent information, whether requested or not;
- Engage in discussions and conferences to negotiate reasonably and creatively and to settle all issues, and work cooperatively with the Collaborative Professionals and any others retained in the Collaborative Process to seek compromise and resolve disputes justly and equitably, without resort to actual or threatened litigation or any other external forces; and
- Accept individual responsibility for and ownership of the outcomes of the Collaborative Process.