Jump to Navigation

What is Collaborative Family Law

What is Collaborative Team Practice?

For many couples, separation or divorce is one of the most difficult and defining events in life, involving intense feelings of grief, pain, anger, guilt, sadness, and more. Such feelings are hard to avoid in a transition often defined by loss, anger, conflict, betrayal, and financial struggle. Children, as well as their parents, can experience these emotions. Collaborative Team Practice supports all family members.

It can help to understand that the process is a series of manageable tasks. It may also help to realize that separation or divorce is like other challenging life transitions and holds the promise of transformation, growth, and healing.

The goal of Collaborative Team Practice is to help families or couples create the strongest possible foundation for the future as two households are established. This process provides expert assistance to clients in each aspect of the process: emotional, relational, financial and legal. For parents, the process focuses on building effective co-parenting communication and decision making skills. Children and their ideas are also honored in the process. Neutral expertise in areas of financial decision-making, co-parenting and creating a developmentally responsive parenting plan surround the effective advocacy of each client's legal counsel.

Traditional divorce is usually thought of exclusively as a legal process, i.e., couples hire lawyers to advocate for their positions and may end up going to court if a settlement is not reached. However, even when legal paperwork officially ends a marriage, couples with children have to continue to figure out how to interact productively on behalf of their children. Collaborative Team Practice is based on the deep understanding that separation or divorce is much more than a legal process. It is an emotional, spiritual, and financial journey that includes a legal event. Just as marriage is much more than a marriage license, the process of divorce is far more than simply signing the Judgment and Decree.

We believe that providing clients from the beginning with the right expertise to deal with any given issue is a cost-effective and more productive way to support the family through a divorce or separation. Collaborative team professionals function as a team to understand how all the issues - parenting, financial, relational and legal - intersect at any given point in the process. Team process can streamline problem solving and often helps the professionals involved to generate more creative options tailored to the unique needs of the family.

At first glance, it may seem as though there are more professionals involved in this process than necessary. However, contested divorces often involve "battling professionals" hired as expert witnesses-- mortgage consultants, financial consultants, business evaluators, custody evaluators, etc. A collaborative team will always have two lawyers in it, one for each spouse. The number and type of allied professionals brought in to a given case is determined by the facts and situation in each case.

In a nutshell, Collaborative Team Practice helps families identify and manage all aspects of the divorce process with professional guidance to deal with emotions that may interfere with making good decisions in the process, develop effective communication skills for co-parenting and problem solving, address immediate financial needs as well as planning for the future, create parenting plans for children, and complete necessary legal steps and paperwork.

Attorneys (each client has an attorney)

  • Provide legal guidance, counsel, and advice to their respective clients
  • Support clients in resolving areas of dispute
  • Cooperate with other Collaborative team members to guide clients through the process
  • Share power and authority with all team members, recognizing the unique skills that each professional brings to the process
  • Work with both clients and the other attorney to create legal documents necessary to complete the process
  • Are professionally licensed as attorneys

Neutral Financial Specialist (one per team)

  • Provides neutral financial education and guidance to both clients as needed
  • Assists clients in developing budgets to meet their monthly expenses
  • Assists clients in allocating income to meet the family's needs while minimizing tax impact
  • Identifies and helps determine how best to value assets and liabilities
  • Helps create options for division of assets and liabilities
  • Helps resolve areas of conflict around financial matters
  • Shares power and authority with all Team members, recognizing the unique skills that each professional brings to the process
  • Is professionally licensed as a financial expert

Neutral Child Specialist (one per team)

  • Provides neutral guidance and education to parents
  • Helps parents create "we statements" to talk with their children about the divorce or break up
  • Meets with parents and children to obtain developmental information, identify family strengths and identify goals to meet children's needs
  • Meets with children to assess their hopes and needs for the future
  • Works with the Neutral Coach to strengthen parents' co-parenting relationship
  • Gives feedback to parents and professional Team members about the needs of children
  • Assists parents in the creation of a developmentally responsive Parenting Plan
  • Shares power and authority with all Team members, recognizing the unique skills that each professional brings to the process
  • Is licensed as a mental health professional

Neutral Facilitator / Coach (one per team)

  • Provides neutral guidance and teaches effective problem solving skills so clients can function at their highest level
  • Identifies clients' emotional readiness for divorce and helps the team understand appropriate pacing of the process
  • Helps clients manage their emotions, especially when triggered by hot button issues
  • Works with a couple to create a written Relationship Plan that establishes new boundaries and expectations for co-parenting
  • Facilitates joint meetings involving Collaborative team professionals and clients
  • Monitors the pace of the process in order to maximize the best outcomes for the family
  • Shares power and authority with all team members, recognizing the unique skills that each professional brings to the process
  • Is licensed as a mental health professional or a qualified mediator

All Team Professionals

  • Share pertinent information with other team members
  • May meet with other members of the Collaborative team in conference calls or face-to-face Team meetings as needed
  • May attend joint meetings with other team members to help the case proceed smoothly
  • Adhere to the ethics of their professions within the Collaborative team context

*(adapted from copyrighted website materials of the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota, used with permission)

Get resolution to your problem contact an attorney

Clifford R. (Kip) Cloud

Clifford R. (Kip) Cloud View Profile

Elaine Buck

Elaine Buck View Profile

Tom H. Nagel

Tom H. Nagel View Profile

Bobbie Corley O'Keefe

Bobbie Corley O'Keefe View Profile

S. Scott Haynes

S. Scott Haynes View Profile

Carol Ann Fey

Carol Ann Fey View Profile

Robert N. Wistner

Robert N. Wistner View Profile

Sandra W. Davis

Sandra W. Davis View Profile

Heather G. Sowald

Heather G. Sowald View Profile

Robert Koblentz

Robert Koblentz View Profile

Linda J. Miller

Linda J. Miller View Profile

Nancy L. Sponseller

Nancy L. Sponseller View Profile

Jeffrey D. Fish

Jeffrey D. Fish View Profile

Margaret (Peggy) L. Blackmore

Margaret (Peggy) L. Blackmore View Profile
Secure Login

If you are one of our attorneys

Login Here

If you are one of our collaborative professionals

Login Here