The Collaborative Process

This document is an outline designed to help a potential collaborative divorce client understand their role in the collaborative process. It also outlines what a client can expect from their team members as they assist the family in a constructive collaborative divorce process.

The client’s attitude, behavior, and choices will be vital to a successful collaborative outcome for the family. It is important that both spouses accept the responsibilities necessary to achieve a healthy and constructive conclusion of their marital relationship. The clients affirmation of the following core beliefs serve as the foundation of the collaborative divorce process. . They also define and reflect the client’s understanding and agreement to accept their role in the collaborative process. These core beliefs are written in the first person to signal the client’s commitment:

1. I am changing but not ending my relationship with my child’s other parent. Our family is changing its shape but continues as a family as we move from one to two households.

2. I will be challenged to function from the highest and best part of myself to achieve a collaborative settlement.

3. I understand the collaborative process means that my co-parent and I will be making our own settlement decisions to conclude our marriage, relying on team members to serve as guides and consultants.

4. My ability to manage my emotion constructively will be vital to my success in the collaborative process. This means I will be asked to make choices and decisions based on thoughtful consideration rather than on my feelings.

5. I understand conflict with my co-parent undermines our child’s well being and happiness. I will support and encourage our child’s relationship with my co-parent.

6. A collaborative settlement is a win-win process wherein competition is not acceptable. This requires me to consider the good of my co-parent and our children too, rather than simply my own individual wants and needs. My capacity for empathy, taking the higher road, and looking at the larger picture will support a more healthy outcome.

Responsibilities of the Client

1. I will be respectful and thoughtful in my communication with my spouse and team members.

2. I will negotiate in “good faith” with my spouse.

3. I will make myself available for meetings with team members and my spouse. This means I will treat the collaborative process as a high priority, being certain to attend all scheduled meetings and being prompt.

4. I will provide requested documents and information to my professional team members in a timely manner.

5. I will keep all payments to team members current unless other arrangements have been made between a team member and me.

6. I will be open and willing to learn new ideas and skills such as:
A. Parenting strategies
B. Communication techniques
C. Negotiation
D. Financial management
E. Home care and maintenance
F. Employment seeking

7. I will avoid communications that:
A. Focuses on history inappropriately
B. Blames or accuses
C. Negatively labels or inflames
D. Demands
E. Criticizes or judges
F. Attempts to intimidate
G. Attempts to undermine my former spouse

8. I will actively engage with my team members for information, support and guidance and will implement their recommendations appropriately.

9. I will be completely open, honest and transparent in all of my discussions and meetings with team members and my spouse. This includes concerns I have about the collaborative process itself.

10. Our financial agreement will acknowledge and respect my commitment to what is fair and reasonable for our well being (present and future) and for the well being of our children. I will cooperate to share our financial and material resources and will not resort to manipulative tactics such as guilt or “you owe me” arguments.

11. I may seek information or guidance from someone outside of my professional team. If so, I will inform my team about this resource including my relationship (and my spouse’s relationship) to that person and clearly identify the advice I have received and accepted from that source.

12. I understand communication among team members and with outside resources (therapist, accountants, teachers, etc) are vital to a good settlement and I will accept this document as a “Release of Information” form to permit this communication.
13. I will support and encourage our children’s relationship with my co-parent.

14. I agree to insulate our children from involvement in our negotiations or our disputes.

15. In resolving issues about sharing the children (enjoying them and being responsible for them) I agree to make every effort to reach an amicable solution that promotes the children’s best interests.

16. I agree to quickly mediate and resolve differences related to our children to promote a caring, loving and involved relationship between our children and both parents

17. I will use polite and respectful language when I speak to my co-parent, and to the members of the professional team. If I lapse into rudeness or disrespectfulness, I will apologize.

18. Overall, I will conduct myself within a framework of respectful, consideration and cooperative communication.

Responsibilities of the Professional Collaborative Team

1. Professional team members are the experts on the collaborative process and you will be expected to comply with their directions.

2. You can expect each member of the team to serve as a good model for the conduct expected of you.

3. Each team member will respond openly and with complete candor to all of your questions.

4. You have the right to be fully informed before you commit to a decision or action. Your team members will volunteer all information needed to help you make a decision that is acceptable to you.

5. Your team members will respond to your telephone calls, emails or other forms of communication in a timely fashion. In most cases, this means you will receive a response or an answer within 48 hours.

6. A collaborative settlement that is mutually agreeable and concluded expeditiously is the goal of your collaborative team.

7. Your team members are committed to creative problem solving using a “good faith” approach and will provide you with options and alternatives as you make decisions.

8. Each member of your team, including your spouse’s collaborative professionals, will communicate with respect and consideration for you and your spouse at all times. Each team member is dedicated to sensitive and supportive services for you and your family.

9. Bills or invoices for serves will be provided with explanations of services rendered.