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Pauline Tesler on Stu Webb (from 1999)

Stu Webb is known as the father of collaborative family law, a non-adversarial process where the spouses’ attorneys agree to focus solely on out-of-court dispute resolution.  Pauline Tesler is oftentimes thought of as the mother of collaborative divorce, emphasizing the benefits of an interdisciplinary team and spearheading the creation of institutions, such as the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”), to help more families.

Back in 1999, Pauline wrote an article in the very first edition of the Collaborative Quarterly (requires IACP membership & password to access), a publication of the IACP (then known as the American Institute of Collaborative Professionals) about Stu Webb and the origins of collaborative law.

You can find excerpts from that article below:

Stuart Webb, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, had been practicing family law in the “usual way” for more than twenty years when, like many of us, he became interested during the late 1980’s in mediation and alternative dispute resolution….

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Collaborative Training for Family Law Staff

When a potential client calls your firm, who is the first person with whom she speaks?  When a potential clients arrives at your office, who is the first person that he sees?  If you are a collaboratively-trained attorney, mental health professional, financial professional, or mediator, there is a good chance that your staff is the first voice that a potential client hears, the first face that a potential client sees.

How is that staff member representing you?  Is that first interaction being used as an opportunity to familiarize the client with the term “collaborative practice?”

Joryn Jenkins

Those first interactions are but one of the many different skills that a friend and mentor of mine, Joryn Jenkins, will discuss in her unique collaborative training geared towards professional staff.

The training will take place in Tampa, Florida, on January 22, and it will also be streamed live for professional staff that is outside of the area.

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Video: Collaborative Practice in Brazil

Collaborative divorce is a relatively new concept in Tampa.  It is counterintuitive to think that attorneys would promote a concept that keeps divorcing spouses out of court.  Further, who would think that attorneys would be willing to take a step back, and allow (i) mental health professionals to take the lead in emotional divorce discussions and (ii) financial professionals to be the point people on the division of assets and debts and other support topics.

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And, yet, that is what collaborative lawyers do.

Collaborative practice is growing around the world, including in Brazil.  Below is a video in Portuguese that discusses collaborative divorce in Brazil:

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Video: Stu Webb’s Collaborative Divorce & Jazz

Stu Webb is an attorney from Minnesota who one day decided that he no longer wanted to be involved in the destruction of divorce court, and so he created collaborative divorce.  Collaborative divorce is a private process where spouses become teammates rather than opposing parties, and attorneys focus on problem-solving rather than fighting.

Oftentimes accountants, psychologists, financial planners, therapists, and others are used to make sure that not just the legal needs, but also the emotional and financial needs of the spouses are met.

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Collaborative Divorce has become more common here in Tampa Bay as families and attorneys realize that the court system should be seen as a forum of last resort, rather than first resort, to resolve personal issues.

Now, as it turns out, Stu Webb is not only the founder of collaborative divorce, but he is also an avid fan of Jazz.  You can find a short video he helped create comparing collaborative divorce to jazz after the jump.

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Radio: Can Therapy Save A Marriage?

I recently attended the 16th Annual Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and I had the opportunity to attend a workshop led by Gary Direnfeld, a social worker and collaborative professional in Ontario, Canada.  He was an excellent speaker and was discussing cutting edge ideas on helping families.

Gary was recently on a radio program to discuss an age-old question: Can therapy help save a marriage?

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Video: 25 Years of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce and family law began 25 years ago, in 1990, when a Minnesota attorney named Stu Webb decided that he simply no longer wanted to be part of an adversarial divorce process.  He strongly felt that divorce did not belong in the court system: decisions about where children should sleep at night should be made by the parents, and discussions of financial issues should happen around a private conference room table rather than in a public courtroom.

And so, he developed collaborative divorce, where parties agree from the very beginning that their collaborative attorneys cannot be used to fight it out in the court system.

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals has put out a video commemorating 25 years of collaborative practice.  You can find the video below the jump.

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Former Florida Supreme Court Justice: Divorce Doesn’t Belong In Court

Rosemary Barkett, the first female Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court and former federal judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit believes that the court system is not an appropriate place to resolve divorce-related matters.

[PORTRAIT: Justice Rosemary Barkett]

Below are excerpts from a series of interviews of Justice Barkett conducted between 2006-2009 and recorded as part of the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division Women Trailblazers in the Law program:

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Money Talk 1010 AM: Cost Savings of Collaborative Divorce Compared to Trial Divorce

I recently was at the St. Petersburg studios of Money Talk 1010 AM with fellow attorney Joryn Jenkins to discuss, among other things, how a collaborative divorce tends to make more financial sense then going through the traditional courthouse divorce.  The discussion was facilitated by Let’s Talk Law’s Roxanne Wilder and sponsored by Next Generation Divorce.

The radio program begins around the 5:30 mark after the jump below.

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Money Talk 1010 AM: Introducing Collaborative Divorce

I recently had the opportunity to appear on the Let’s Talk Law radio program along with Licensed Mental Health Counselor Linda Peterman.  We were introducing collaborative divorce to the Tampa Bay listeners of Money Talk 1010 AM and had a great conversation with host Roxanne Wilder.

Collaborative divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where each spouse retains an attorney.  The attorneys only focus on negotiating an agreement, and they are contractually barred from engaging in contested court proceedings.  All negotiations are had in a private conference room rather than the public courthouse.

A neutral facilitator, who generally is licensed in a field of mental health, oftentimes helps the spouses focus on what is most important (such as the welfare of the children) rather than the arguments of the past.  A neutral financial professional, who has either a financial planning or accounting background, is frequently retained to efficiently ensure full financial transparency and aid the spouses to make the transition from married life to financially independent single life.

You can listen to the radio program, which was sponsored by Next Generation Divorce and aired on September 4, 2015 immediately after the Dave Ramsey Show, after the jump.

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Collaborative Divorce in Israel: The Peaceful Divorce

While Collaborative Divorce began in the United States in 1990 when Minnesota family law attorney Stu Webb declared that he would no longer take any new litigated cases, it has spread throughout the world to provide spouses with a private, respectful method to separate.

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One such place that it has spread is Israel, where a practice group named “L’Hitgaresh B’Shalom” based out of Tel Aviv is teaching Israelis how they can constructively restructure their families.  L’Hitgaresh B’Shalom roughly translates as “The Peaceful Divorce,” “To Divorce in Peace,” or “Divorcing Peacefully.”  In a region that is oftentimes in the midst of physical battles, it is amazing that there are professionals who are attempting to insulate families from the destruction of court battles.

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