Sara Marler sits down with KMOV's David Amelotti to discuss Divorce With Respect Week

Divorce With Dignity

Sara Marler sat down with KMOV's David Amelotti to discuss Collaborative Divorce.

DAVID:                 THIS WEEK IS DIVORCE WITH RESPECT WEEK AND A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS SHOW THE RATES OF DIVORCE IN AMERICA IS RISING. ACCORDING TO THE U.S. CENSUS DATA, IT WAS 7.1 OUT OF EVERY ONE-THOUSAND WOMEN, UP 3% FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR. THE DIVORCE RATE IN MISSOURI WAS UP 2.5% AND ILLINOIS WITH THE DIVORCE RATE OF 5.7%. WHILE DIVORCE CAN BE CONTENTIOUS, WHILE DIVORCE CAN BE CONTENTIOUS, A WHILE DIVORCE CAN BE CONTENTIOUS, A GROUP IN ST. LOUIS IS LOOKING TO HELP PEOPLE DIVORCE DIVORCE WITH DIGNITY. WE HAVE SARAH MARLER WITH THE COLLABORATIVE LAW ASSOCIATION. THIS IS A TOPIC AFFECTING TOO MANY PEOPLE AND WITH DIVORCE WITH RESPECT WEEK, I WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT IS AND HOW IS DIVORCE WITH DIGNITY POSSIBLE? 

SARA:                    THE ST. LOUIS COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW ASSOCIATION IS REALLY EXCITED TO RECOGNIZE DIVORCE WITH RESPECT WEEK AND RECOGNIZED BY THE STATE OF MISSOURI THIS YEAR AND THE ST. LOUIS COUNTY FAMILY COURTS AND ST. LOUIS CITY. IT'S AN IMPORTANT TIME TO RECOGNIZE THERE'S A WAY TO GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS OUT OF THE COURT SYSTEM. IT'S A WAY TO GET YOUR ATTENTION TO TRY TO HELP FOLKS TRANSITION FROM MARRIED IN THE SAME HOUSEHOLD TO UNTYING THE KNOT WHILE NOT BLOWING THROUGH YOUR WHILE NOT BLOWING THROUGH YOUR ENTIRE ESTATE AND BEING ABLE TO MAINTAIN YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

DAVID:                 IT'S ACTUALLY ALLOWING BOTH PEOPLE TO THRIVE BEYOND THAT MARRIAGE PEOPLE TO THRIVE BEYOND THAT MARRIAGE ONCE PEOPLE TO THRIVE BEYOND THAT MARRIAGE ONCE IT ENDS. IF A COUPLE COMES TO YOU, MARRIAGE ONCE IT ENDS, WHAT DOES THIS PROCESS LOOK LIKE? BECAUSE IN UNDERSTAND THERE'S SEVERAL PROFESSIONALS A PART OF THIS TRYING TO HELP A COUPLE PART TRYING TO HELP A COUPLE REACH THEIR END GOAL HERE. 

SARA:                    CORRECT, SO IF YOU GO THROUGH A TRADITIONAL DIVORCE, IT'S SORT OF A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL APPROACH. THAT’S NOT HOW THIS IS HANDLED AT ALL.  WE HAVE CHILD SPECIALISTS THAT CAN BE INVOLVED. WE HAVE COMMUNICATION COACHES THAT CAN BE INVOLVED AND FINANCIAL EXPERTS THAT CAN BE INVOLVED AND, OF COURSE, EACH PERSON HAS THEIR OWN ATTORNEY. BUT WE TAILOR THAT,   THOSE EXPERTS ARE NOT OBVIOUSLY INVOLVED IN EVERY SINGLE CASE, IT DEPENDS ON THE CASE AND WHO NEEDS WHAT. BUT THE OTHER KEY PIECE TO THIS ELEMENT OF THIS PROCESS IS YOU, THE COUPLE, GET TO TAILOR HOW YOUR CASE LOOKS.  THE COURT IS NOT CONTROLLING THE TIMELINE. THE COURT IS NOT CONTROLLING THE OUTCOME THE COURT IS NOT DICTATING WHAT REST OF YOUR LIFE LOOKS LIKE AS FAR AS CHILD SUPPORT OR WHEN YOU SEE YOUR CHILDREN. YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE ARE DOING THAT. 

DAVID:                 AND WHAT DOES THE SUCCESS RATE LOOK WITH THIS? 

SARA:                    THE SUCCESS RATE IS HUGE, 90% POSITIVE RESULTS ARE COMING FROM GOING THROUGH THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS

DAVID:                 WONDERFUL, AND BEFORE WE LET YOU GO, FOR PEOPLE TO LEARN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR GROUP SPECIFICALLY, WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO GO? 

SARA:                    STLOUISCOLLABORATIVELAW.COM.

DAVID:                 WONDERFUL! WELL SARAH, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME, WE GREATLY APPRECIATE IT. IF YOU MISSED ANY PART OF THAT CONVERSATION, DON’T WORRY WE’LL HAVE THAT UP FOR YOU AT FIRSTALERT4.COM AND OF COURSE THE  FIRST ALERT 4 NEW APP. 

City of Clayton Declares March 4th through 8th, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week

The City of Clayton, Missouri has issued a proclamation declaring March 4-8, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week™ in St. Louis. For the duration of the week, members of the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association are offering free 30-minute divorce consultations for anyone seeking to learn more about the divorce process and divorce process options that are available to them.  

Divorce With Respect Week™ is a growing national movement led by divorce professionals to raise awareness of Collaborative Divorce as a better option for divorce than going to court. Nearly 500 divorce professionals nationwide are participating in Divorce With Respect Week™ in 2024.

“When people think of divorce, they think of a tumultuous process that often wastes time and leaves people traumatized, but it doesn’t have to be that way.” said Jennifer Piper, an attorney and member of the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association.“Collaborative Divorce does the unconventional in that clients actually lead the discussion on the divorce outcome, not a judge.” 

When clients choose a Collaborative Divorce, they don’t just receive the help of their individual attorneys – they also receive guidance from a divorce financial expert, a mental health professional, and a child specialist for any children involved in the case. With a team of professionals on their side, clients can resolve any issues without going to court and causing lasting emotional damage to them and their families. 

St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association is a not-for-profit organization of independent mental health professionals, attorneys, and financial professionals dedicated to assisting St. Louis and Missouri in resolving family disputes through Collaborative Divorce. Members recently featured on The Respectful Divorce Podcast, where they discussed exactly how a Collaborative Divorce has benefited St. Louis

To schedule a free divorce consultation with a St. Louis divorce professional during Divorce With Respect Week™, visit www.divorcewithrespectweek.com.

City of St. Louis Declares March 4th through 8th, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week

he City of St. Louis, Missouri has issued a proclamation declaring March 4-8, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week™in St. Louis. For the duration of the week, members of the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association are offering free 30-minute divorce consultations for anyone seeking to learn more about the divorce process and divorce process options that are available to them.  

“Choosing an out-of-court divorce process is widely understood to be a better process for the children of the divorcing couple because it allows the divorcing parties to co-parent and to end the marriage without destroying the family's relationships and financial estate,” the proclamation stated. 

Divorce With Respect Week™ is a growing national movement led by divorce professionals to raise awareness of Collaborative Divorce as a better option for divorce than going to court. Nearly 500 divorce professionals nationwide are participating in Divorce With Respect Week™ in 2024.

“The city recognizing Divorce With Respect Week™ is incredibly helpful in our mission to revolutionize the way people divorce,” said Cynthia Garnholz, attorney and member of St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association.

St. Louis has a divorce rate of 12.5%, which is higher than the national average – but separating doesn’t have to cause severe irreparable damages to the family dynamic. When clients choose a Collaborative Divorce, they don’t just receive the help of their individual attorneys – they also receive guidance from a divorce financial expert, a mental health professional, and a child specialist for any children involved in the case. With a team of professionals on their side, clients can resolve any issues without going to court and causing lasting emotional damage to them and their families. 

St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association is a not-for-profit organization of independent mental health professionals, attorneys, and financial professionals dedicated to assisting St. Louis and Missouri in resolving family disputes through Collaborative Divorce. 

To schedule a free divorce consultation with a St. Louis divorce professional during Divorce With Respect Week™, visit www.divorcewithrespectweek.com.

St. Louis County Declares March 4th through 8th, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week

St. Louis County, Missouri has issued a proclamation declaring March 4-8, 2024 to be Divorce With Respect Week in St. Louis County. During Divorce With Respect Week, members of the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association are offering free 30-minute divorce consultations for anyone seeking to learn more about the divorce process and divorce process options that are available to them.  

“Choosing an out-of-court divorce process is widely understood to be a better process for the children of the divorcing couple because it allows the divorcing parties to co-parent and to end the marriage without destroying the family's relationships and financial estate,” the proclamation stated. 

Divorce With Respect Week is a growing national movement led by divorce professionals to raise awareness of Collaborative Divorce as an alternative to litigation. Over 500 divorce professionals nationwide have joined in Divorce With Respect Week this year.  

St. Louis has a divorce rate of 12.5%, which is higher than the national average – but separating doesn’t have to cause severe irreparable damages to the family dynamic. When clients choose a Collaborative Divorce, they don’t just receive the help of their individual attorneys – they also work with a divorce financial expert, a mental health professional, and a child specialist for any children involved in the case. With a team of professionals on their side, clients can resolve any uncertainties without going to court and causing lasting emotional damage to them and their families. 

St. Louis residents seeking Collaborative professionals can contact the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association, a a not-for-profit organization of independent mental health professionals, attorneys, and financial professionals dedicated to resolving family disputes through Collaborative Divorce. 

“The county’s recognition of Divorce With Respect Week is so important because it lets families know there’s another way to go about divorcing without causing lasting emotional, financial and legal problems,” said Susan Amato, attorney and member of St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association.

To schedule a free divorce consultation with a St. Louis divorce professional during Divorce With Respect Week, visit www.divorcewithrespectweek.com.

The State of Missouri has Declared March 4th-8th, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week

The Missouri House of Representatives has issued a proclamation declaring March 4-8, 2024, to be Divorce With Respect Week in the state of Missouri. During Divorce With Respect Week, members of the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association and Collaborative Practice Kansas City are offering free 30-minute divorce consultations for anyone seeking to learn more about the divorce process and divorce process options that are available to them.

“The Collaborative Divorce process is designed to allow the couple to divorce in a more respectful and dignified manner as they receive guidance from lawyers, child specialists, mental health professionals and financial coaches to craft their own agreements.” the proclamation stated.

Divorce With Respect Week is a growing national movement led by divorce professionals to raise awareness of Collaborative Divorce as a better option for divorce than going to court. Over 500 divorce professionals nationwide are participating Divorce With Respect Week in 2024.

“The state’s recognition of Divorce With Respect Week is so important because it lets families know there’s another way to go about divorcing without causing lasting emotional, financial and legal problems,” said Susan Amato, attorney and member of St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association.



With a divorce rate of 12.2%, Missouri has one of the highest divorce rates in the country – but separating doesn’t have to cause severe irreparable damages to the family dynamic. When clients choose a Collaborative Divorce, they don’t just receive the help of their individual attorneys – they also receive guidance from a divorce financial expert, a mental health professional, and a child specialist for any children involved in the case. With a team of professionals on their side, clients can resolve any issues without going to court and causing lasting emotional damage to them and their families.

During Divorce With Respect Week, Missouri residents can turn to St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association and Collaborative Practice Kansas City for a divorce consultation. Both are a collective of divorce professionals dedicated to assisting St. Louis and Missouri in resolving family disputes through Collaborative Divorce.

To schedule a free divorce consultation with a St. Louis or Kansas City divorce professional during Divorce With Respect Week, visit www.divorcewithrespectweek.com.

Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis Joins Divorce With Respect Week™ Initiative

The Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis has joined Divorce With Respect Week™ 2024, running from March 4-8. During that week, members of CFLA will join divorce professionals nationwide in offering 30-minute free divorce consultations for up to three people seeking to better understand options for how they might divorce.

The Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis will offer these consultations for residents of the greater St. Louis area. To book a free consultation, visit www.divorcewithrespectweek.com. Those living outside of the St. Louis area can also use the website to find their nearest participating Collaborative Divorce professional.

Divorce With Respect Week is a national effort aiming to promote Collaborative Divorce as an alternative to divorce litigation. Collaborative Divorce allows couples to separate without having to deal with the messy and adversarial process of going to court. Should clients opt to divorce collaboratively, they would be offered a neutral financial professional and a child specialist for any children involved in the divorce. The addition of a divorce coach to facilitate effective communication allows clients to amicably resolve their issues in a private setting. The process is especially beneficial for families with children who want to focus on an ongoing, amicable relationship, and it typically yields more satisfying results than divorce litigation.

To learn more about Collaborative Divorce, visit www.divorcewithrespectweek.com.

Business Valuation in the Collaborative Process

Ownership of a closely held business can complicate a divorce, especially when the couple must hire a business valuation professional. By cooperatively obtaining a business valuation in a Collaborative Divorce, both spouses can become better educated about the valuation process which will help them better understand how the valuation was derived. 

In a Collaborative Divorce, the couple will jointly engage a valuation expert who is not allied to either spouse. The business valuation expert becomes part of the Collaborative team and must agree to the terms of the Collaborative Participation Agreement, meaning they will work in a cooperative fashion with both spouses, rather than taking an adversarial position, as is often the case in traditional divorces.

Business valuation in a Collaborative Divorce begins with information gathering. Recognizing one spouse often has superior knowledge of the business and its finances, the Collaborative Process, allows both spouses and their attorneys to be part of the information-gathering discussion to ensure that everyone can ask questions to ensure they understand all the information. This puts everyone on the same page so one spouse does not feel in the dark.

A business valuator will request financial records from the company such as: annual and year-to-date financial statements; tax returns; lists of assets, accounts receivable and payables; depreciation schedules; major contracts; and documents showing ownership of the company.  A site visit is often necessary. The business valuator will also look at any personal expenses paid by the business, owner compensation, and depreciation. In a Collaborative Divorce, all of this information is shared with both spouses.

Business valuations are done through three approaches: 1. Asset – What is the value of what the company owns? 2. Income – How much does the company earn each year?  3.  Market – What have similar businesses sold for? The valuator will determine if there is any “personal goodwill,” i.e., the value attributable to an individual's reputation, expertise, skill, knowledge, or relationships. 

Once the expert has made initial calculations, they will present their findings to the Collaborative Team. The expert will explain where their information came from, what assumptions they used and why, and what discounts they used and why. The team will then discuss these items, along with any initial questions they may have, and may run different scenarios with the expert to show what happens to the valuation when those changes.

In traditional litigation, the couple frequently must conduct expensive “discovery,” including depositions to challenge the expert’s (or multiple experts’) opinion(s) and to obtain records. This approach often results in distrust and increased cost.  In traditional litigation, obtaining a business value can be a long, frustrating ordeal.

The Collaborative Process promotes a better understanding of the valuation process by both spouses and their lawyers, allowing them to feel informed, and to understand the information and the valuation number fully. If one or both spouses feel the valuation given to the business is inaccurate, they can still agree on another number if they choose.

Conducting a business valuation through the Collaborative Process allows both spouses to be informed, involved, and comfortable with the final value they choose to use. 

What is a Divorce Coach and Why Do I Need One?

If you and your spouse choose to resolve your divorce through the Collaborative Process, you will have the opportunity to work with a variety of professionals tasked with assisting you with specific parts of the divorce. Your attorneys will help you with the legal nuances of your divorce. The financial specialist will help you with asset division, tax issues, and other monetary aspects of your divorce. And a mental health professional will help you with the socio-emotional elements of your divorce as well as assisting you with the parenting plan. The mental health professional in this situation is called a coach. 

While most Collaborative Divorce coaches are practicing therapists, they are wearing a different hat in the Collaborative Divorce Process:  the hat of coach.  A coach is someone you turn to when you want to do something well, learn a new skill, language, or technique, or a way of relating. The divorce coach fulfills that role by facilitating important conversations, focusing on clients’ mental health, monitoring the collaborative spirit of the endeavor when necessary, and guiding the clients across the finish line of the divorce process.

It can be said that a therapist is someone who helps clients as they unpack their “bags,” look at all the contents, and evaluate what to put back in for the next part of the journey. A divorce coach, on the other hand, helps the clients pick up their repacked bags and carry them across the street to where the next leg of the journey begins. 

Collaborative Divorce is about uncoupling your lives and reforming your relationship so that it works better for your entire family. Collaborative Divorce attempts to do this in an amicable fashion with as little trauma to family members as possible. The divorce coach is there to lean on during this challenging time so that everyone crosses the finish line feeling resolved and ready and on the path to healing.

Navigating the Holidays with Kids after Separation: A Guide to Support and Celebration!

Planning and participating in the holidays after a separation can be challenging, especially for children adapting to two homes. It can be hard to focus on the children’s needs as both parents are also adjusting to this new reality.   

Holidays hold varied significance – while some are about grand celebrations and family gatherings, others might just be about relaxation and acknowledgment. When parents establish separate households, the constant remains their love for their children, though kids may need time adjusting to the new living dynamics.

Studies emphasize the importance of working together as co-parents during and post-divorce. It greatly aids children in navigating their own emotional journey. The underlying message should always be, “Your well-being is our priority, and we will unite for you.”

Here are some insights for co-parents navigating the holiday season:

  1. Prioritize Comfort: If you’re anxious, children pick up on it. Ensure you create moments during festive times that assure them of their importance in your life. The message to them should be, "Your happiness is vital to me, regardless of the occasion.”

Thinking about ways to support your children as they begin living in two homes and making new traditions and experiences for them and for yourself can be one way to lessen the stress of divorce. Doing this will acknowledge that a divorce impacts parents and children. Celebrating some holidays will look different for everyone, and it is important to remind each other that positive new traditions can also be made.

Happy holidays.

Full Disclosure in the Collaborative Process

One key component of the Collaborative Process is a voluntary full disclosure of financial documentation and information. Why is this disclosure important?

To answer this question, it may help to know some basics regarding the most common “discovery” tools used by lawyers to gather information and documents in the traditional court process: 

The Collaborative Process requires a commitment by both spouses to settle their case without court involvement. This means (absent some unique, specific agreement) these traditional discovery tools are not available to Collaborative participants. Therefore, Collaborative participants must voluntarily disclose all relevant information and documentation. Good faith negotiation is a hallmark of the Collaborative Process, and this requires that each spouse has complete and accurate information.

Voluntary disclosure is not limited to financial issues. The Collaborative Process may also include discussions about conduct issues and parenting concerns. Good faith negotiation requires that the spouses also maintain a commitment to make voluntary and full disclosures regarding these topics as well.

Many of the discovery tools used in the traditional court process result in embarrassment for a family. Consider the sweeping requests for documents that may be included in a subpoena for employment records or the uncomfortable questions that might be asked during the deposition of a spouse or witness. One of the many advantages of the Collaborative Process is the enhanced privacy it provides for spouses, as compared to traditional litigation.

Every divorce requires the couple to gather a great deal of information. In a traditional divorce, this gathering process is potentially a very expensive, time-consuming, and often emotional endeavor. The Collaborative Process offers couples a far less painful means of producing the information necessary to successfully resolve their cases.