Beginning a Collaborative Divorce – Once Neutrals Are Retained

How does the Collaborative Divorce Process move forward after you’ve chosen your neutral team members?

Once the neutrals have been retained for the collaborative divorce process, each client meets with the facilitator to discuss his or her goals, issues, concerns, and relationship history. The facilitator prepares a written report of the interviews for the team so that they have a better understanding of the clients’ personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to avoid pitfalls that might arise in the process based on this personal information. Thus, the professionals can refer to this report at will during the entire process.

A positive outcome for the clients and their collaborative divorce team.

By now, the first professional teleconference and the first full divorce team meeting have been scheduled. The facilitator prepares the agenda for the team meetings, including items scheduled by clients. These will be e-mailed to the professionals for discussion prior to each professionals-only teleconference.

During the teleconference, the professionals discuss any changes to the agenda, the strategy for each full team meeting, including how best to raise certain sensitive issues, and how to ensure that the process runs smoothly and efficiently. They also brainstorm both on techniques to assist the clients in navigating the collaborative path and also on how to share party-to-party communications.

The attorneys circulate the agenda for the full team meeting to all participants ahead of time. The clients are invited to comment on the proposed agenda. If it isn’t the first meeting, they should include approval of the minutes from the prior meeting and reports regarding the status of the clients’ homework assignments. Relevant documents that will be used during the meeting should be copied and packaged in advance to save time during the meetings.

A full team of collaborative professionals and neutrals working to bring the most amicable result.

One of the professionals, often the financial neutral, is assigned to take notes of the full team meeting to ensure the team a record of what occurred. It is stressed to the clients that, just because something is included in the minutes, it does not mean that it is the clients’ agreement. Within three days of a meeting, the recorder should remit them to the other professionals, who will then return them with their comments and corrections.

Once the professionals have agreed on the minutes, the recorder will send them to the clients, who may also suggest edits. Once finalized, all participants may sign them prior to the next meeting, depending on the protocols established by the team.

Once you’ve chosen your team of collaborative divorce neutrals, the team works for you to talk through your individual needs so that you, the client, can move forward with the most amicable divorce: Collaborative Divorce!


About this week’s author:  Joryn Jenkins.

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law while also serving as a full-time professor in law at Stetson University.  She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, a title bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement.  For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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