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Podcast: In-Depth Interview on Collaborative Divorce

Recently, author and collaborative attorney Adam B. Cordover appeared on the “Talking Brains” podcast for an in-depth interview on on collaborative divorce.

The podcast is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a therapist in Tampa specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and gaslighting.

In this wide-ranging interview, Stephanie and Adam discuss, among other things, the following:

  • The differences between the traditional court-based divorce and collaborative divorce;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for spouses;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for children;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for professionals;
  • The success rate of collaborative divorce;
  • What happens when spouses cannot reach an agreement;
  • Mosten, Forrest, & Cordover, Adam, Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (ABA 2018);
  • The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals;
  • The Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals;
  • Next Generation Divorce; and
  • Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers.

You can listen to the podcast below:

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Is There A Better Way To Divorce?

Divorce is never easy.  I oftentimes hear people going through the stages of grief when discussing divorce, as if a loved one has died.  And, in a very real sense, divorce does signify the death of a relationship.

But imagine if, when a loved one died, you then picked a battle and entered a very public adversarial court system.  Your every move is scrutinized by a lawyer looking to portray you in the very worst light.  You are subjected to depositions and court hearings and a wide-net fishing expedition through all of your personal and financial matters.  And, all of this could be exposed to public scrutiny, as hearings and the court file are open for public viewing.

All of this, while you are experiencing the grief and trauma of death.  In this case, the death of a relationship.

There has got to be a better way to divorce, right?  To avoid the public indignity of an entrenched fight, right?

Fortunately, there are alternatives.  One alternative, which in this lawyer’s opinion is best for most families, is collaborative divorce.

Non-Adversarial Process

Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial process.  Each spouse retains a separate attorney, and the two attorneys are there solely for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement.  In fact, the collaborative attorneys are prohibited by law, once a collaborative process is started, from fighting in court.

Imagine that, attorneys helping clients reach a peaceful resolution.  The attorneys spend no time, no energy, and no money on opposition research, motion practice, or demonizing either spouse.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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Video: Bounds of Advocacy and Collaborative Divorce

Earlier this year, the Florida Bar Family Law Section released a new version of the Bounds of Advocacy.  The Bounds of Advocacy promote a higher level of professionalism than the base level required by the Florida Bar.

In the video below, Joshua Jones, a Pensacola family law attorney and president of West Florida Collaborative Law, Inc., discusses the relationship between the Bounds of Advocacy and collaborative divorce.  The video is produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Further, professionals interested in learning to offer collaborative services to client in Pensacola November 30-December 1 can learn more and register here.

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Video: CPA Discusses Collaborative Divorce

Those who have been through the old-style divorce court may have trouble associating divorce with empathy.  This is especially true when it comes to financial issues.  And yet, collaborative divorce professionals see families act with kindness and empathy all of the time.

In the video below, Certified Public Accountant and collaborative financial professional Ari Harper discusses a recent case where empathy made all of the difference:

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“Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice” Now Available

Today, the American Bar Association releases “Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice,” edited by Forrest (Woody) Mosten and Adam B. Cordover.  The book includes experts from around the field in collaborative practice and out-of-court dispute resolution.

Below is a list of the chapters and contributing authors:

Foreword: Nancy Cameron

Prologue: Making Collaborative and Non-Court Practice Your Day Job – Forrest S. Mosten & Adam B. Cordover
Chapter 1: Lawyers as Peacemakers. Really?!? Yes, Really. – David Hoffman
Chapter 2: How Collaborative Practice Will Improve Your Profitability – Robert Merlin
Chapter 3: Redefining Your Practice Signature and Creating a Profitable Peacemaking Practice – Kevin Scudder
Chapter 4: How Many Hats Can You Wear? Assessing If You Can Be a Collaborative Professional and Still Litigate – Carl Michael Rossi
Chapter 5: Being A Client Leader: The Art of Gaining New Collaborative Clients – Rich Grof
Chapter 6: Effectively Marketing Your Collaborative Practice – Gary Direnfeld
Chapter 7: Creating Collaborative Office Space – Zanita Zacks-Gabriel
Chapter 8: Integrating Technology into Your Collaborative Practice – Brian Galbraith
Chapter 9: Getting Buy-In for a Collaborative Approach from the Other Spouse and Attorney – Enid Miller Ponn
Chapter 10: The First Client Meeting: Gateway to a Collaborative Case – Bev Churchill

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Pre-Order Cordover Mosten ABA Book Now!

Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice by Forrest S. Mosten and Adam B. Cordover  is now available for pre-order on the American Bar Association website.  The book brings together experts in the field of collaborative practice to help professionals learn to make a living while helping families restructure in a better way.

Reviews have already started coming in:

I personally believe Woody Mosten and Adam Cordover have done the Collaborative Practice Community a tremendous service by bringing together this group of respected Collaborative Practitioners to share their experience and expertise. They gathered these voices to speak to the Collaborative Practice and peacemaking world, in an attempt to answer the call of the Community for more Collaborative cases and for a way to stop going to court forever. For those who want to devote their life and practice to changing how families resolve their disputes and to help them move forward in peace, this is the book for you.

Christopher M. Farish, Collaborative Lawyer

Dallas, Texas

President of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals

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Preparing for Your Collaborative Divorce Team Meetings

You have wisely chosen to engage in the collaborative process rather than a more traditional, adversarial process. You—and your spouse—are to be congratulated for choosing a more peaceful path.

One of the cornerstones of the collaborative approach is the use of team meetings.  These are the working meetings that include you, your spouse, both attorneys, and any neutral professionals that you have engaged. These meetings are very different from traditional settlement conferences. This handout is designed to help you prepare for your collaborative team meetings.

Laying the Foundation

Collaborative practice is a structured process.  We follow a roadmap that has helped thousands of families to resolve their disputes.  It can be summed up as the “4 D’s of Resolution:”

  • Decide to Enter the Collaborative Process
  • Disclose All Relevant Information
  • Develop Options that Meet Interests
  • Determine the Best Options for Your Family

Many people decide to enter the collaborative process, but then want to skip right past disclosure and option development. They mistakenly believe that jumping immediately into proposal/counterproposal will save time and money.  However, in our experience, skipping the intermediate steps actually ends up costing more time and money because perspectives get entrenched, emotions spike, and the whole process gets derailed.  Further, either or both spouses may not yet know what is in the marital pot.  As a result, they may leave assets on the table or fail to address an asset or debt.  In either case, that may cause a dispute down the line.

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What is a Collaborative Facilitator?

If you are looking at your divorce options (from traditional divorce to collaborative divorce to mediation), you may have come across the term “Collaborative Facilitator.”  What is a Collaborative Facilitator?

A Collaborative Facilitator is a neutral professional in a collaborative divorce.  He or she is oftentimes utilized as a team leader and communication specialist within the collaborative family law process.  He or she generally has a background in family dynamics, childhood development, and/or  conflict management.  A Collaborative Facilitator will have credentials and a license.  These will be in the area of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, social work, psychology,  or psychiatry.  However, the Collaborative Facilitator is not engaging in therapy as part of the collaborative process.

Author, psychologist, and collaborative trainer Jeremy S. Gaies, in A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce, discusses the role of the Collaborative Facilitator (which he describes as “coach,” using the nomenclature of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) in the following excerpt:

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Next Generation Divorce

Sample Collaborative Participation Agreement

Is divorce on your horizon?  If so, are you fearing entering a public adversarial system where husband is pitted against wife, and mother is pitted against father?  Fortunately, there are alternatives.  One alternative is the collaborative divorce process, where you and your spouse sign a participation agreement that states, among other things, that your attorneys can only be used to help you reach an agreement outside of court.  This means that none of you or your attorneys’ time, energy, or billable time goes towards opposition research, motion practice, or costly trial preparation.

The collaborative participation agreement spells out the rules of the collaborative process.  Below you will find a sample participation agreement that I oftentimes use in my cases here in Florida.  Please note that different professionals and different communities use different participation agreements.  Further, the same professional may have different participation agreements depending on the type of matter or the complexity of the matter.

As I have had the fortune to model my participation agreement based on the work of others, I welcome other professionals to modify and adapt the collaborative participation agreement below as their own:

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Review: A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce

There are a lot of great books out there on collaborative divorce.  Some, like Forrest S. Mosten’s Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families without Going to Court and Pauline Tesler’s Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce without Litigation, are geared towards divorce professionals.  Others, like Stu Webb and Ron Ousky’s The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids – Without Going to Court and Joryn Jenkin’s War or Peace: Avoid the Destruction of Divorce, are geared towards families considering divorce.

A new offering is helpful for both professionals and families.  Enter Dr. Jeremy S. Gaies’ A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce.

Dr. Gaies is a psychologist and collaborative facilitator/coach in Tampa, Florida.  Full disclosure: He also teaches attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, and mediators how to offer families collaborative services through the Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers, a group in which I am also a trainer.

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