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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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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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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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Explanation of Collaborative Process

Explanation of Collaborative Process Consent Form

When you come into my office to learn about collaborative divorce, I want to make sure that you understand the process.  Yes, collaborative divorce helps families day in and day out, but there are potential negatives that you need to know, as well.  Further, Rule 4-1.19 of the Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct requires me to help ensure you have informed consent before entering the collaborative process.

Accordingly, I will sit down with you to discuss all aspects of collaborative practice.  At the end, I will provide you with an Explanation of Collaborative Process Consent Form to sign.  I have designed this form, but it is based on one created by Robert J. Merlin, an attorney in South Florida who was the point person for the adoption of Rule 4-1.19 by the Florida Supreme Court.

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Sample Collaborative Divorce Participation Agreement

If you are considering or going through divorce, there are two terms you should become familiar with:  collaborative divorce and collaborative divorce participation agreement.

Collaborative divorce is a form of private dispute resolution where you, your spouse, and your attorneys agree from the beginning that they will not fight in court.  You agree that you do not want to subject yourselves, your children, your business, and your friends and family to an adversarial, hostile, and public court system.  You just want to move on to your better future in the least painful way possible.

Though there are statutes and rules that interact with the collaborative divorce process, it is mainly governed by a contract, known as a collaborative divorce participation agreement.  This is an agreement that you and your spouse sign.  Because the collaborative divorce process is very different than the traditional divorce process, it is important that you have a complete understanding of your collaborative divorce participation agreement and walk through the agreement thoroughly with your attorney.

Below is a sample collaborative divorce participation agreement that I often use in my cases here in Tampa Bay.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of variations of this agreement, and different communities use different participation agreements.  In fact, I use different participation agreements depending on the circumstances of the family and what type of resolution they are trying to reach (i.e., divorce, post-divorce, prenuptial agreement, or postnuptial agreement).

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Introductory Collaborative Training

Has Your Divorce Lawyer Completed an Introductory Collaborative Training?

If you are in the market for a divorce lawyer, you should know that not all divorce lawyers are the same.  Some specialize in fighting in court, while others focus on resolving disputes outside of court.  One way to help determine which strategy your divorce lawyer focuses on is to find out whether he or she has completed an Introductory Collaborative Practice Training.

What is An Introductory Collaborative Practice Training?

An Introductory Collaborative Practice Training is one of the first steps a lawyer or other professional takes before offering collaborative divorce services.  Collaborative divorce is a process where the spouses agree that they will not use their attorneys to fight in court; rather the attorneys and any other professionals will focus solely on helping the family resolve their disputes and move on to their better future.

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