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Podcast: Collaborative Coach on Women Mean Really Business

Earlier this year, Melissa Sulkowski, R.N., M.A., L.P.C., of Erie, Pennsylvania, appeared on the Women Really Mean Business Podcast.  Melissa is a Collaborative Coach, what we in Florida call a “Collaborative Facilitator.”  She helps families who are going through the Collaborative Divorce Process remain focused on what is most important to them rather than the arguments of the past.  She helps clients work on the emotional aspects of divorce and get through the tough moments so they can move on with their lives.  Melissa also helps families develop parenting plans that are tailored to their children’s needs and developmental stages.

Additionally, Melissa is trained as a mediator and works with families in various forms of alternative dispute resolution.  Her goal, regardless of which process is utilized, is to help families amicably reach agreements and stay outside of the adversarial court system.

You can find the audio of Melissa’s appearance on Women Really Mean Business at the following link: https://womenreallymeanbusiness.com/2019/09/melissa-sulkowski-women-really-mean-business-048-dont-let-a-crisis-force-you-into-self-care

Below is a partial transcript, edited for clarity:

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Article: Collaborative Lawyer Discusses Holiday Custody Schedule

The Patch of West Hartford, Connecticut, recently ran an article where Susan Busby, a Collaborative Family Law attorney, discusses the difficult topic of custody during the holidays.  The article, titled “Collaborative Divorce: A Route to Happier Holidays,” urges families to learn about the Collaborative Process as way to keep children out of disputes between parents.  You can read an excerpt of the article below:

The holiday season is often stressful, and for those going through or having just gone through a divorce or separation, the season can induce even more stress, intensify negative emotions, and accentuate how much their lives have changed. But it is entirely possible to have a joyous and peaceful holiday season, even during a big change in family structure.

By choosing a collaborative divorce, separating parents can create the holiday plan together to determine best options for everyone, focus on the well-being of the children, develop new cheerful traditions, and lay the foundations for having a good working relationship post-divorce.

Connecticut Collabortative Divorce Group“By coming to an agreement collaboratively, both parents have input into the holiday schedule instead of having a judge telling parents what the holidays will look like,” said Susan Busby, an attorney with the Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group (CCDG). CCDG is a Hartford-based group of professionals that aims to keep divorcing couples and their children out of court using a method of family conflict resolution called Collaborative Divorce. “In a Collaborative Divorce, the values and traditions of the parents and the children can be honored and not used as leverage between the parents to get something else, which can happen in traditionally litigated divorces. Working out the holiday plan together is better for the children and for parents. Then everyone can relax and enjoy the holidays.”

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Cordover Speaks at Reimagining Advocacy Conference

Family Diplomacy managing attorney Adam B. Cordover recently spoke at the Reimagining Advocacy conference held at Stetson University in Gulfport, Florida.  Cordover spoke on the topic of “Training Divorce Lawyers to Become Peacemakers.”

Center for Excellence in Advocacy

The conference was sponsored by Stetson University Law School’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy.  According to the Center’s website:

The Center for Excellence in Advocacy promotes the continuing development of unparalleled advocacy skills through teaching, scholarship and research.

Stetson Law’s Advocacy Resource Center offers instruction to a worldwide audience through online video presentations by experts in the field of advocacy.

The Stetson Law community is committed to the concept of the complete advocate – one who commands a superior understanding of the law, the ability to persuasively present evidence, and the humanity to know when to do the right thing.

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Video: The Secret – Miracles of Collaborative Divorce

When folks are going through divorce, oftentimes they reveal things that are embarrassing and which they kept secret from their spouse.  The collaborative divorce process offers a supportive environment in which to do this.

In the video below, Joryn Jenkins, Esq., of Open Palm Law describes one such incident that happened in a collaborative matter.

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IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practice Trainers

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”) has set Minimum Standards for those who hold themselves out as Collaborative Practice Trainers.  Trainers teach other professionals how to offer the public Collaborative Law services.

IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practice Trainers

The Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practice Trainers were approved by the Board in October 2014 and amended February, 2015. In 2017, the Board removed the designation of these standards as “interim.”

IACP Collaborative Law PracticeThese standards are established with an awareness of the aggregate nature of learning. Skill is acquired from the successive application of education to experience over time and continuing education to enhance skill. The IACP sets the following
minimum standards for trainers after January 1, 2015, to conduct a training that meets IACP Minimum Standards for an Introductory Training:

1. Minimum Experience for Trainers:

1.1 A trainer will have completed at least 10 different Collaborative Practice matters of which at least 6 will have been in the interdisciplinary model, accumulating at least 50 hours of practice in Collaborative Practice. For trainings that are focused solely on practice areas other than domestic relations, trainers will have completed at least 8 different Collaborative Practice matters, accumulating at least 50 hours of practice in the Collaborative Practice.

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Cordover Teaches Collaborative Law Course in France

Family Diplomacy managing attorney Adam B. Cordover just returned from Aix-en-Provence, France, after teaching a Collaborative Law course.  Cordover taught the course alongside Tampa psychologist Jeremy S. Gaies.  Cordover and Gaies are both lead trainers with Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers.

The course was hosted by the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Médiation et Négociation (“IHEMN”) as two-days within a broader 200-hour class.  Those who wish to become mediators in France must take this (or a similar) 200-hour class.  Twenty-six people attended the course, and among them were lawyers, entrepreneurs, police officers, and retired judges.

Curriculum of Collaborative Law Course

The title of the two-day course was “Collaborative Practice in the USA: An Intercultural Advanced Training.”  It included the following modules:

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Video: Cordover & Direnfeld on Clergy in Divorce

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Gary Direnfeld of Ontario, Canada.  Gary Direnfeld is an internationally renowned social worker and family advocate. He is a trainer, a friend, and a contributing author to the American Bar Association book I co-edited and co-authored with Forrest S. Mosten, Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (2018).  You can find the video below.

 

 

Below you will find a transcript of the interview, lightly edited for clarity.

Gary Direnfeld (“Gary”): Okay, Gary Direnfeld here, and I’m with a dear colleague, Adam Cordover, from Tampa Florida.

Adam Cordover (“Adam”): Gary, great to see you!
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Should A Rabbi Help You With Your Divorce?

If you can avoid divorce, you should.  Divorce is tough, even under the best of circumstances.  Turn to your therapist, your priest, your preacher, your imam, and/or your rabbi to seek help and repair your marriage.  But if your marriage is truly irretrievably broken, perhaps your rabbi (or priest, or preacher, or imam) can help you through the marriage dissolution.  And the Collaborative Process may be the best forum to help make this happen.

What is the Collaborative Process?

The Collaborative Process is a form of alternative dispute resolution.  In the Collaborative Process, you and your spouses each have separate attorneys.  The attorneys are there solely for the purpose of helping you reach an out-of-court agreement.  This mean that you do not spend any time, energy, or money in courtroom battles or in adversarial proceedings.  Collaborative attorneys simply want to help you move forward in your lives as efficiently and amicably as possible without harming your kids.

Additionally, the Collaborative Process is holistic in nature.  We oftentimes use outside experts to help deal with aspects of your lives that traditional court-based divorces do not.

Ok, So Where Does The Rabbi Come In?

Your family has your own set of traditions and values.  Is faith and religious practice is one of the cornerstones of your family? Then it may be helpful to have clergy involved as part of your divorce process.

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Typical Steps in a Collaborative Divorce

Divorce is tough.  Your marriage is falling apart and the foundation upon which you thought you could depend is no longer there.  Rather than fling yourself into the chaotic and adversarial divorce court system, you have alternatives.  One structured alternative is Collaborative Divorce.

In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse retain separate attorneys to guide you along the way.  Unlike litigation lawyers, these attorneys’ only purpose is to help you reach an agreement as amicably and efficiently as possible.  In fact, the process prohibits Collaborative Attorneys from engaging in contested court proceedings.  Because of this, you do not have to worry about motion practice, depositions, or dirty trial tactics.  You can just focus on reaching a resolution that is best for your future.

Here in Tampa Bay, a neutral Collaborative Facilitator usually aids you.  The Facilitator has a specialty in communications, family dynamics, and childhood development.  When you and your spouse seem to get stuck in the arguments of the past, the Facilitator will help get things back on track and focused on the future.  Further, if you have children, the Facilitator will help you craft a parenting plan tailored to your children’s specific needs.

To ensure transparency, you may retain a neutral Financial Professional.  The Financial Professional helps you and/or your spouse understand the extent of your estate.  He or she will then help you develop options for best dividing it.  He or she can also help you develop budgets so you know that you will have a financially sustainable future after divorce.

Every Collaborative Divorce is Different

Every Collaborative Divorce is different.  However, as a trainer, many of my students (who are lawyers, financial professionals, mental health professionals, mediators, and others) find it helpful to have a step-by-step guide to Collaborative Divorce.  This is meant only as a sample.  The more Collaborative Cases I am involved with, the more they deviate from this guide; in truth, just as there is no “typical” family, there is no “typical” Collaborative Divorce.

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IACP Video: Why Choose Collaborative Practice?

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) is the premier organization urging families to resolve divorce and other family law matters in a better way.  Collaborative Divorce, also known as Collaborative Practice, Collaborative Law, and the Collaborative Process, is a structured method of private dispute resolution that keeps families out of court.

The short video below, produced by the IACP, explains why families facing divorce should consider Collaborative Practice.

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