How do you want to get divorced? An overview of your process options

You’ve made the decision to divorce, Now you need to consider the options for moving forward.  You may not be aware that most cases never go to court, and one size definitely doesn’t fit all.

Here are some different processes to consider:

  1. Kitchen Table. The couple negotiates all of the issues directly before filing with the court. One spouse may obtain a lawyer to file with the court or you may file on your own. This option works best for couples with low conflict, where both spouses fully understand the finances and property, and where there is a high level of trust.

Advantages: Quick and inexpensive

Disadvantages: No professional advice from an attorney (or only one spouse obtains professional advice) of legal rights and options; no formal method of information gathering (“discovery”) to ensure your spouse is being honest with financial information

  1. Mediation. The couple has a series of meetings with a trained mediator (usually a family law attorney) who does not represent either of you to negotiate and reach agreements. The mediator can provide legal information to facilitate negotiations, help generate options, draft the separation agreement, and, where appropriate, the parenting plan. Both spouses are advised, but not required, to consult with their own attorneys during the process. This option is best suited for couples who have disagreements but who are committed to resolving them outside of court and need the assistance of an unbiased neutral to help reach agreements.

Advantages: No court involvement; structured negotiation process; couple has control over all decisions

Disadvantages: More costly than kitchen table; a spouse that is controlling or abusive may take advantage of the other spouse during the process (i.e., there is an imbalance of power); no formal method of discovery

  1. Litigation. One spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage in court. Both spouses hire attorneys. The attorneys do most of the heavy lifting in this option by preparing the case and arguments, engaging in settlement negotiations, and handling any court appearances. This option is most suited for couples who have very low trust and no interest in resolving issues out of court. Discovery is routinely used to gain financial information. If no agreement is reached, the judge makes the final decision after a trial. 

Advantages: Formal discovery is available, e.g, subpoenas, depositions; temporary orders may be obtained (e.g., restraining orders, child support, and maintenance); disclosure is mandatory and under oath

Disadvantages: Often the most expensive option; adversarial couples become more so, lessening the chance of a successful co-parenting relationship; the judge, who doesn’t know you or your family, makes all of the decisions for you, so you have no control over the outcome; deadlines and scheduling are based on the court’s schedule, not yours

  1. Collaborative Practice. The couple and collaborative professionals have a series of meetings in a non-adversarial setting. Attorneys trained in Collaborative Law represent each spouse. The couple has the opportunity in this option of retaining other professionals trained in Collaborative Practice to assist in the process, including a mental health professional, financial professional, and a child specialist. This process addresses the legal, financial, and emotional issues of the divorce. The entire team signs agreements to work collaboratively with each other to problem solve, gather information, and explore options.  All agreements are reached before being processed through the court. This option is most suited for couples who are interested in resolving their issues outside of court in a non-adversarial way and may be interested in the benefits of having trained mental health and financial professionals.

Advantages: Uses a team approach to ensure that everyone is working towards resolving the issues in a non-adversarial, respectful manner; couple has the advice of a team of professionals to cover all aspects of divorce: legal, financial, and emotional; couple is in control of the outcome of their process; no court involvement; couple learns strategies in communicating and continuing their post-divorce relationship

Disadvantages: If an agreement cannot be reached (very rare), the couple has to retain two new attorneys and incur more legal fees; may incur higher costs depending on how many professionals are involved; if one spouse is not negotiating in good faith, the process is compromised; no formal method of discovery

Whichever process you chose for your divorce, make sure you are educated and informed about all of the options.

Why should I consider divorce using the Collaborative Process?

The Collaborative Process is an approach to divorce that emphasizes cooperation and negotiation between spouses, with the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable settlement. It is a forward-focused alternative to traditional litigation that can provide a more amicable and efficient approach to resolving divorce-related issues.

Here are some key points about the Collaborative Process in Missouri:

  1. Voluntary Participation: Both spouses must willingly choose to participate in the Collaborative Process. It requires a commitment from both parties to work together honestly and respectfully to find solutions.
  2. Collaborative Team: Each spouse has their own collaboratively trained attorney who will guide them through the process. Other professionals, such as divorce coaches (mental health professionals), child specialists, and financial experts may be involved to provide specialized support and expertise.
  3. Agreement to Settle Out of Court: The Collaborative Process aims to settle all issues out of court. The spouses and their attorneys sign an agreement stating that they will not resort to litigation. If either spouse decides to pursue litigation, the collaborative attorneys must withdraw from the case, and new attorneys will need to be retained.
  4. Open Communication: The Collaborative Process encourages open and transparent communication between spouses. This allows for a better understanding of each other's needs, concerns, and interests, facilitating the negotiation of a mutually beneficial settlement.
  5. Focus on Interests and Needs: Instead of positional bargaining, the Collaborative Process aims to identify the underlying interests and needs of each spouse. By focusing on common goals, creative solutions can be explored to meet the needs of both spouses and their children.
  6. Privacy and Confidentiality: The Collaborative Process offers greater privacy compared to traditional litigation. The discussions and negotiations that take place within the collaborative team are confidential, promoting a safe environment for open and honest communication.
  7. Court Approval: Once the spouses reach a settlement agreement, it must be submitted to the court for approval. The court will review the agreement to ensure it is fair and in the best interests of any children involved. When approved by the judge, the agreement becomes legally binding.

It's important to note that while the Collaborative Process can be a beneficial option for many couples, it may not be suitable for all situations, especially if there are significant power imbalances, concerns about domestic violence, or an inability to cooperate. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney to determine if the Collaborative Process is the right choice for your circumstances.

Breaking Apart While Pulling in the Same Direction

When most people think of divorce, what come to mind are words like “divisive,” “conflict,” “adversarial,” “battle,” and other terms describing anger, unhappiness, and disappointment. So how can a divorce be “collaborative,” and why is that a good thing?

A couple going through divorce started their marriage walking down the aisle together, planning a life together, and raising children together. Even when problems arose, the couple may, together, have sought the assistance of a marriage counselor or spiritual advisor.

Yet, if the couple decides the marriage has no future and they need to separate, the usual path is to hire attorneys and take what was a joint venture onto the battlefield where they will begin lobbing grenades at each other trying to achieve an all-out victory or, at best, a truce.

What’s wrong with this picture?

For starters, if the divorce war rages on, the children are inevitably caught in the crossfire, making everyone in the family miserable. Parents have an obligation to work together for the kids’ benefit in a partnership that doesn’t end when the children graduate college but, rather, that lasts a lifetime. Beyond that, each spouse’s life will be weighed down by continued sniping, which can lead to bitterness and endless resentment.

The Collaborative Divorce Process offers a radically different approach to divorce. It lets a divorcing couple focus on their future rather than on the sins of the past. It invites a couple to work together towards common goals, such as financial independence, a sound co-parenting relationship, and mutual respect in their post-divorce lives. It recognizes that divorce litigation rarely produces a clear winner and a clear loser but, rather, ends in a Pyrrhic victory, draining financial and emotional resources that take years to replenish.

In a collaborative divorce, spouses are supported by their own lawyers as well as by unaligned mental health and financial professionals, each of whom brings a different set of skills to the table. The lawyers, rather than focusing on strategic maneuvering, collaborating to help their clients work together to benefit the entire family.

Couples who choose the collaborative divorce process recognize that preserving their family’s well-being will require being attentive to the needs of all members of the family, including their soon-to-be ex-spouse. That doesn’t mean giving in; it does mean being willing to listen, and, in turn, being heard.

Judges have limited tools and limited time as they deal with an endless flow of divorce matters. Couples using the collaborative divorce process avoid the standardized approach of the courthouse. By rejecting a war and, instead, embracing a cooperative approach, they are much more likely to emerge well-prepared for their post-divorce lives.

Divorce represents both an end and a beginning. The collaborative divorce process invites couples to keep their eyes on the road ahead to create a better future for themselves and for their children.

Collaborative Practice and the Economics of Divorce

Facing a divorce is a daunting, sometimes frightening prospect, and “How much will my divorce cost?” is perhaps the most consistent concern among those considering ending their marriages. As with so many other divorce-related issues, the answer is usually, “It depends.”

Aside from issues such as valuation, misconduct, hiding assets, addiction, and dissipation, all of which can add to the cost of a lawyer’s services, the process by which the divorce takes place can play a major role in increasing or decreasing the overall cost.

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has a lawyer, and other professionals, including a financial specialist and mental health coach, are routinely included as part of the problem-solving team. A child specialist may also participate in the process. With all of those professionals involved, it may sound as if a collaborative divorce is unaffordable for many couples.

There are, however, good, solid reasons a collaborative divorce will likely save you money in the long run. Here are two:

The Right Professional for the Job:

Lawyers know the law and they know about negotiations. They are not, however, as well-versed in financial issues as a financial advisor or CPA. The financial professional assists not only in gathering the financial information but also in analyzing tax consequences, and suggesting ways of saving taxes. The mental health professional keeps the divorcing couple on task by helping them cope with the challenging emotions they are experiencing, and uses their knowledge of child development to help the parents create a workable parenting plan to serve the children’s best interests.

Creating a Positive Track Record Today for Success Tomorrow:

Because the traditional divorce process is based upon the civil courts model of one party opposing the other, divorcing spouses find themselves having both to attack their partner and defend themselves, often at the cost of upsetting and alienating their children. Then, when the divorce is complete, the warring parties have to figure out a way to engage in cooperative parenting. Having spent months or more staring at each other across battlements, they now have to figure out a way to sit together at parent-teacher conferences, cooperate around scheduling changes, and plan birthday parties together.

A collaborative divorce is conducted using interest-based negotiations, a system of coming up with solutions to difficult problems by taking into account what each person needs and wants, rather than by pointing accusing fingers. When spouses learn to listen to each other, a skill that is constantly reinforced in the collaborative process, they discover that, even though they no longer want to be intimate partners, they can learn to work together for their children’s benefit. Then, when changes need to be made to the parenting plan or to the support arrangements, they know that, having worked peacefully through their divorce, they can return to the bargaining table, rather than starting new battles, thereby saving both their financial and emotional resources.

When considering how you want to conduct your divorce, think not just about your immediate pain or anger but also consider what you want your future and that of your children to look like. Avoiding future conflict will bring peace to you and your family, and will save you thousands of dollars as you avoid court battles over enforcement and modification of your divorce judgment.

Navigating and transitioning the divorce process can be daunting.  Certain divorce processes support a better planned transition than others.  To learn about your Missouri divorce process options contact one of our experienced St. Louis Collaborative Law professionals today.

Alan Freed is a St. Louis family law attorney, collaborative law professional and trained mediator.  He is experienced with helping one or both spouses achieve settlement.  To learn more about your Missouri divorce options give him a call or visit his website.

Phone: 314-244-3653


Collaborative Divorce Process: 6 Insights From a Collaborative Divorce Coach

Divorce is on your horizon and having experienced professionals in your corner will make the collaborative divorce process less time consuming and arduous.

If you are seeing a therapist, hopefully you are, your therapist should be one of those helpers getting you through the emotional obstacle course, as well as providing you logistical information.

Even after you decide on the Collaborative Approach to divorce, the idea of sitting in the same room with your soon to be ex is an unnerving thought.

Many clients find comfort in knowing exactly what that experience is going to be like. What can you expect from the professionals in the room? What are you allowed to say? What will that first session be like?

Everyone knows what litigation is like; get an attorney and start the fight, wait, e-mails, extensions…

Collaborative divorce is going to offer you the opportunity to sit in the same room with your spouse which is going to eliminate the grape vine scenario between your attorneys and yourselves. You will know what is going on every step of the way and all the professionals in the room will have the same goals as you which is to come to a timely agreement you are comfortable with.

There's room for your feelings and genuine thoughts in the collaborative divorce process in a way that isn't readily available to you in traditional divorce.

Many counseling clients ask, “Will I be able to say how angry I am or that he/she doesn’t seem to care about my wellbeing at all after 12 years of marriage?” The answer is, yes! These feelings and others are what drive the process or hinder it.  The collaborative divorce process is definitely the place to get it out.

You may be willing to enter into this process, but you are not excited about standing in the elevator with your spouse.

That is quite fine. Details like this are worked out at the very beginning of collaborative divorce process. The professionals guiding you will make sure that you understand what to expect of them, as well as jointly create expectations for how you will interact with each other.

It will get better.

So much support is offered with this style of divorce that you will heal much faster than you’d expect. As you have consistent team meetings it will become easier to meet with, and interact with, your soon to be ex.  All of this lays the groundwork for effective emotional healing and co-parenting if you have children.

Collaborative divorce supports a calmer, better planned transition than others.  To learn about your Missouri divorce process options contact one of our experienced St. Louis Collaborative Law professionals today.

About the Author : Kristin Craren

Kristin is a former member of CFLA.

A Tale of Two Houses

Money has emotion attached to it. Money represents security and safety. Lack of money means insecurity and fear. Divorce means money will be split up. Splitting one pot of money into two pots of money creates emotion, and rarely are these emotions positive.

For many in divorce, it’s a surprise that their 401k is a marital asset. This happened to me. I had worked hard to save the money in my work retirement plan and I was proud of what I had managed to put aside. With an ex who was a small business owner, that retirement nest-egg was critical. When it came time to split up, however, I wanted to hold on to what I felt was my retirement. In my mind, it was mine! In reality, it was not mine, it was a marital asset and subject to being split in the divorce. This misunderstanding on my part caused me to have angst and to feel anger, which complicated the negotiations and created more acrimony.

This is, sadly, an unfortunate and common scenario. For many, the money they have saved in their work retirement account is the bedrock of their retirement plan. Losing any of it causes insecurity and fear, which in turn causes anger, resentment and the possibility of a protracted fight in divorce court, aggravating the process and costing even more money with professionals.

The bottom line is this: be aware that any savings accumulated in the course of a marriage is a marital asset and subject to be split in divorce.

Work to put your emotions aside as you make decisions that will impact your future, your soon-to-be-exes future and possibly your children’s futures.

Money represents security. In the process of divorce, look for the ways to create and rebuild two new foundations for security where there once was just one. Remember, your family is still a family, even when there are two houses.

To learn more about your divorce process options reach out to one of our experienced St. Louis Collaborative Law Association professionals today.

About the Author : Laura Boedges

Laura is a financial professional and former member of CFLA.

Divorce and Disappointment

Unfortunately, we all face disappointment at some point.  It is a part of life.  How you choose to deal with disappointment is what often matters most.  You will face many feelings during a divorce and disappointment is a common feeling that many people face.

The Disappointment

When you focus on the negative parts of a disappointing situation, you cannot see the opportunities you have.  Being angry may cause you to take your feelings out on someone who does not deserve it.  Feeling sorry for yourself causes you to be too busy thinking about yourself.  It is tempting to strike out at the person or persons you identify as the cause of your disappointment.  Anger, self-pity, and revenge will only make matters worse.

Focusing on the Future

While life is full of disappointments, it is good to remember that life is also filled with opportunities.  To move past the disappointment in a positive way, first express your feelings appropriately.  Talk to a friend.  Write down, for yourself, what happened, perhaps in a letter.  Then, destroy the writing.  The writing is meant for you, and no one else.  Put your upset in perspective.  Few disappointments continue indefinitely.  Stop and think about all the things that are good in your life.

Implement Helpful Tactics

You might need to change your plans.  You might need to adjust your thinking.  You do not have to allow someone, or something, to control your future.  Remember, each of us is in charge of our own future, not someone or something else.  Recognizing the disappointment, focusing on the future and implementing helpful tactics will allow you to move forward in a positive way.

The collaborative divorce process often engages a divorce coach. A divorce coach is trained in the emotions of divorce.  To learn more about the collaborative divorce process or the skills of a divorce coach visit the St. Louis Collaborative Law Association's website for helpful resources and information.

About the Author : Gary Soule

Gary is an attorney and former member of CFLA.

Can We Both Use the Same Divorce Attorney?

This is a question many couples ask who are thinking about divorce.   There are many reasons why people want to use one attorney and usually, it comes down to finances.  How can we cut our costs of this divorce since attorneys are expensive,  how can we divorce and not get into a nasty court battle and how can we remain civil because of the children?

Although a divorce can be costly if two attorneys are involved, a lawyer cannot represent both sides in a divorce.  So, even though the simple answer is NO, one attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce, the complex answer is YES only one party has to hire an attorney.   So one lawyer can be used for a divorce IF they only work for one side.   The next question is how can an attorney work for only one side and still do all the paperwork for the divorce?  The example below explains how the process could work.

Example of Using One Attorney

For example, Wife hires an attorney.  Wife meets with the attorney who will go over the divorce process and what is necessary to get divorced.  Wife’s attorney will prepare the documents for filing the case with the court and sends all of the documents to Husband.    Husband can get the documents filed at the courthouse by service, or by mail if Husband signs a document saying he got the court papers and he does not want a sheriff to serve them with papers.    There are deadlines and timeframes that everyone must follow whether they are represented or not represented by an attorney.

Wife will then meet with the attorney and provide the attorney with her understanding of the agreement between her and her Husband.    The attorney will write up the agreement based on what the Wife tells the attorney.  The Husband will get copies of this agreement for him to review.   If Husband agrees with everything in the paperwork that Wife’s attorney has prepared he does not need to hire an attorney.    If he agrees with most of it he can go back to his Wife and request changes.  And if she agrees, then she contacts her attorney to change the paperwork.  If the agreement reflects what both Husband and Wife want, then the agreement is signed.   In this example only one attorney is used to complete the divorce.  However, the attorney does not meet with Husband.

Sometimes it is confusing to say Wife hires the attorney if Husband pays a part or all of the attorney fees of Wife's attorney.  However, the payment of attorney fees does not mean you have hired the attorney.  Only if you have entered into an agreement that the attorney will represent you have you hired the attorney.      In this example, Husband and Wife used only one attorney but only Wife was represented and the only person to meet with the attorney.

One Divorce Attorney Cannot Represent Both Sides

Many people wonder why the attorney cannot meet with both parties and do work for both of them.  Attorney ethic rules say an attorney cannot represent both sides of a case even if both sides are in agreement.  In a divorce even if everyone agrees on the outcome, the parties are on opposite sides of the case.    The only exemption is if the attorney is serving as the mediator of the divorce and then they can meet with both parties.  In the case of a mediator, both parties would sign an agreement with the mediator and it would be clear the attorney is acting in this case as a mediator and not an attorney for either the Wife or Husband.

About the Author : Sharon Remis

Sharon is an attorney and former member of CFLA.

A Guide to Attorney-Client Communication

Taking the initial step to contact an attorney to talk about a difficult situation isn’t easy.   Discussing the details of your life with a stranger isn’t easy.  It is not unusual to be nervous or anxious.  Attorneys have different styles.  Not every attorney is a good fit for every client.  It may take meeting with more than one attorney to find one that is a good fit for you.  An effective attorney-client relationship is one based on honesty, trust and good communication.

When you find an attorney who is a good fit for you, the expectations for communication should also be established and both the attorney and the client should agree to them.  Among other things, you might wonder:  Can the attorney share things you tell him/her with others?  How will you know what fees and expenses you should expect?  When will phone calls be returned?  What about communication by email?  How will information be provided to you?  Will you need to provide information?  How often will face-to-face meetings take place?  Other than the attorney, who else will be working on your case?  What should you do if you are unhappy with something the attorney has or hasn’t done?

Can the attorney share things you tell him/her with others?  Information you share with the attorney is confidential, and protected by the attorney-client privilege.  When you first meet with the attorney, he/she should explain the privilege to you, including exceptions.

How will you know what fees and expenses you should expect?  Your initial meeting with the attorney should include a thorough discussion of fees and expenses.  The attorney should explain how he/she charges, hourly rates, potential expenses, when you will be billed and payment expectations.  You should also receive this information in writing.

When will phone calls be returned?   If the agreement is that phone calls will be returned within 24 hours, then if the attorney cannot return the call personally within the designated time, he/she should arrange for an assistant/paralegal and/or associate to return the call.   Adhering to this rule allows you - the client -  to trust that a call will be returned and will make it unnecessary for you to leave multiple messages.

What about communication by email?  You should discuss communication by email with your attorney at the beginning of your relationship.  There may be privacy concerns which your attorney should discuss with you.  You should also discuss the time frame for responses to emails.  You should discuss whether you should expect responses after hours, on weekends, during vacations, on holidays.

How will information be provided?  As the client, you should be informed as to everything that is happening during the legal process.  It is reasonable for you to expect to receive copies of everything related to your case that comes into or goes out of your attorney’s office.  Copies can be provided to you by U.S. Mail, by fax or by email, whichever you prefer.  Depending on the type of information it could be provided by email or by telephone.  If you have a preference, say so.

Will you need to provide information?  You will need to provide your attorney with information.  He/she may request that you provide a lot of information at once.  Or you may be asked to provide information as it is needed.  Either way, it is not your responsibility to figure out what your attorney needs.  It is your attorney’s responsibility to let you know what is needed and when it is needed.

How often will face-to-face meetings take place?   It is convenient for information to be provided by email and communication can take place by telephone, but neither is a substitute for a face-to-face meeting.  There may be times that your attorney asks that you meet face-to-face.  There may be times that you want to meet with your attorney in person and you should not hesitate to request a face-to-face meeting.

Other than the attorney, who else will be working on your case?  It is likely that the attorney will have other people in his/her office assisting with aspects of your case.  These may include an assistant, a paralegal, a law clerk and/or other attorneys.  You should expect to be introduced to all people who will be involved in your case.  You should expect to be provided with a description of each person’s role in your case.

What should you do if you are unhappy with something the attorney has or hasn’t done?  Speak up!  Whether it is by phone, email or in person – commit to having an open and honest relationship with your attorney.

No doubt, family law matters are difficult.  Although having an attorney with whom you can effectively communicate won’t solve your problems, it will make addressing them less difficult.

Why do we need a divorce coach? I already have a therapist.

Divorce is one of the most challenging and difficult times of one’s life – and in the midst of this emotional turmoil, people are required to make decisions that will permanently affect their future (and their children’s future). Trying to sort through all of the logistical, legal, financial, and parenting decisions that have to be made is overwhelming. Clear-headed guidance and perspective is tough to find. The person who used to be a partner is now an opponent, family and friends blindly pick sides, lawyers advocate only for their client, and therapists provide good support but don’t have complete information and generally know little about the divorce process.

Using a collaborative approach goes a long way towards addressing these problems – but it is the Collaborative Divorce Coach whose job it is to keep focus on the big picture and the long-term goals (i.e., after everything is over), to make sure that the best interests of the whole family are kept constantly in mind, and that the collaborative team works together to accomplish this objective.

Role of the Divorce Coach

Collaborative divorce coaches are experienced, licensed mental health professionals. The term “Coach” is used to make it clear that coaches in the collaborative process are not acting as therapists. They don’t explore feelings or to try to change who people are. An analogy is that a therapist is someone you bring your luggage to and s/he helps you open it up and examine the contents; a collaborative divorce coach is someone you bring your luggage to and, without opening it, s/he helps you carry it across the street.

Because collaborative divorce coaches are familiar with the divorce process, they can provide a road map of what’s ahead, and help to anticipate and avoid pitfalls. In addition to providing support and guidance, Coaches help families get through through divorce in a reasoned and respectful way, minimizing damage to everyone in the family.

Coaches help to manage feelings, to minimize conflict, and to avoid non-productive issues. Since emotions filter what we see and hear, coaches diffuse ‘hot buttons’ and provide a reality check on negative stories / attributions that spouses have about each other.

Help for Spouses

Because they work with both spouses, coaches are able to facilitate and establish constructive communication. They model healthier ways of talking and listening, which helps to keep lines of communication open and facilitates civil discussions and negotiations. Coaches also help to offset any power imbalances that might exist between spouses as a result of differences in temperament, financial security, emotional stability, social support, knowledge, etc.

A major task of the Collaborative Divorce Coach is to help parents shift from a partner relationship to a co-parenting relationship. Establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship means helping parents develop new family rules, expectations, communications, beliefs, and ways of parenting. It means helping parents focus on averting future problems rather than assigning blame for past problems.

Help for Children

Collaborative Divorce Coaches understand the developmental needs of children, what parents can do to help them, and how to minimize the adverse impact of the divorce. In addition to helping parents maintain emotional stability and communicate effectively, the coach can provide insight into parenting issues not yet experienced by the parents since they haven’t yet had children any older than the ones they have now. Coaches work with the parents to create a Parenting Plan that best meets the needs of the family now and in the future, while fulfilling the document requirements of the court.

Help for the Collaborative Team

As well as assisting parents with emotional issues, the Coach manages the emotional content of the entire collaborative process. This means facilitating communications during meetings and between meetings, for the other professionals in the process as well as parents. During meetings, Coaches often manage the agenda, and, in addition to keeping everyone’s feelings in check, ask questions that a client might feel unable to ask. After every collaborative team meeting with clients, the coaches facilitate a short debrief with the professionals to review how effectively the team functioned in the meeting and to process any difficult situations or personal triggers. This procedure helps to prevent inadvertent alignments or imbalances among team members, contributes to team stability, and assures a reality-based assessment of how the divorce is going and the best plan forward.

The coach also contacts any ‘outside’ therapists involved with a family to inform them about the collaborative process and to clarify the difference in roles between the therapist and the collaborative coach. And if particularly difficult situation arises, the coach can alert the therapist about it so that the therapist can provide additional support.


Collaborative Divorce Coaches, in many ways, are the glue that hold the entire collaborative process together. They help to provide and maintain the communication skills, emotional management, long-range perspective of each spouse, both spouses together, the family as whole, and the professional team. Coaches are an essential part of the collaborative team and are necessary to achieve a “good” divorce. You can contact a Collaborative Divorce Coach to find out more about this divorce option.

About the Author: John Borders

John is an mental health professional and former member of CFLA.