Introduction to IACP Client Survey
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”) has been conducting a survey which studies clients’ experiences with collaborative divorce and collaborative family law in general. Collaborative divorce is a process by which parties, instead of going to court to litigate, agree to a private framework that lends itself to developing more creative options for financial, child custody, and other family issues. Most times, a neutral mental health professional/communication coach and a neutral financial professional are engaged to facilitate the process.
These findings were compiled in the Spring 2012 edition of The Collaborative Review: The Journal of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“What Clients Say About Their Experience in the Collaborative Process” by Linda Wray, J.D.).
About the Surveyed Collaborative Clients
Ninety-eight participants of the collaborative process responded to the survey between 2007 to 2010. The participants were split pretty evenly between men and women. The majority of respondents were between the ages of 40-59, were married for 16 years or more, and used the process in dissolving their first marriage. The majority of respondents had children. Most respondents had unsuccessfully attempted marital or couples counseling prior to engaging in the collaborative process.
Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed settled their case via the collaborative process.
Satisfaction with the Collaborative Process and Its Outcome
Clients were asked their level of satisfaction on a variety of issues surrounding the outcome of their cases, including issues relating to their relationship with their children, relationship with their former spouse, co-parenting matters, development of post-divorce communication and parenting skills, and the terms of their settlement. About three-quarters of clients were extremely or somewhat satisfied to the general outcome of their case, compared to 13% who were extremely or somewhat dissatisfied.
Clients were most satisfied with the outcome of the collaborative process on issues dealing with their children. Clients felt that the interests and emotional well-being of their children were served well in the process. Clients were also satisfied with their improved co-parenting skills.
Clients responded that they were somewhat satisfied to extremely satisfied with the following features of their collaborative process:
- Meetings scheduled to accommodate clients’ schedules (as opposed to hearings accommodating the Court’s schedule);
- Respectfulness of the collaborative process;
- How free clients felt to express themselves in their case; and
- The opportunity to address concerns directly with the other participant (as opposed to communicating solely through attorneys, mediators, or court motions).