How collaborative negotiation is different from what you expect

Everyone negotiates; it’s a part of daily life. Whether asking the boss for a raise, shopping for a new car, setting the budget for your company, or arguing with your teenage son about his curfew, we all regularly engage in bargaining.

In every divorce, couples, whether represented by lawyers or trying to work things out across the kitchen table, have to figure out how to divide their property and debts, how much support will be paid, and how to share the children’s care. Typically, these negotiations are based upon two factors: power and rights.

Power-based negotiations rely upon each person’s sources of power:  money, physical strength, control of the children, superior skill, just to name a few. Rights-based negotiations use an outside authority, such as the law, religion, or a moral code as the basis for the desired outcome.

In the Collaborative Process, however, we focus on each person’s interests. Rather than basing the outcome on what the law says, we instead want to hear what is important to each of the spouses. If the couple is trying to figure out what to do about the marital home, we are not concerned about how a judge might handle the issue. Instead, we want to understand why Mom wants to keep the house or why Dad wants to sell the house.

Mom’s concerns might be about keeping the kids in the same neighborhood or qualifying for a new mortgage. Dad might want to be paid for his portion of the home equity or getting his name off of the mortgage. Once we understand these interests, we can generate options to address them.

The options might include selling the house now or selling it a couple of years down the road, after the youngest child finishes elementary school. Perhaps the mortgage can be refinanced to get Dad money to buy a new house and to get his name off the existing mortgage.

The Collaborative Professionals (mental health and financial professionals and lawyers) assist their clients, first by gathering information about a problem, then identifying each person’s interests, generating options for resolving the issue, and helping sift through the various options to find one (or a combination of more than one) that best meets the couple’s needs.

This interest-based negotiation process allows for a thorough discussion of each issue, giving each person the opportunity to be heard. Each of them has an equal ability to agree or disagree with any given option, so no resolution occurs until both people are satisfied.

Interest-based negotiation is valuable because it levels the playing field and empowers the divorcing couple to do what is best for their family, regardless of how a judge might have dealt with the case. Each outcome is tailored to a family’s specific needs.

To find out more about how the Collaborative Process works and whether it is right for your family, contact one of the Collaborative Family Law Association professionals listed on this site.

Collaborative Lawyer, Ann Bauer, has been named an ICON by Missouri Lawyers Media

Missouri Lawyers Media will acknowledge the remarkable and noteworthy professional journeys of 25 lawyers and judges through the ICON Awards. This annual event celebrates individuals aged 60 and above in the Missouri legal community, honoring their exceptional careers and unwavering dedication to their profession. Nominees, whether currently practicing or retired, must have held a prominent role with significant decision-making power within their firm or organization. The 2024 awardees comprise of state and federal judges, founding partners, leaders of firms, and experienced practitioners from both large and small firms.

The St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association is proud to congratulate Ann Bauer on her distinguished career and recognition.

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. 

Beyond High School: The Cost of College for Divorced Parents

Divorce often brings about its fair share of financial challenges, and the hidden cost of college expenses only adds to the burden. As parents navigate the complexities of child support laws in Missouri, they must also consider the additional financial obligations that come with supporting their child's college education. This can catch many parents off guard, as they may not have anticipated the need to financially support their child beyond high school. It is crucial that parents know their rights and responsibilities under Missouri's child support laws.

Understanding Missouri Law

Under current Missouri law, child support continues past high school until age 21, as long as the child attends college or a vocational school.  In addition, parents can also be obligated to pay college expenses until the age of 21.  Pursuant to Section 452.340.5 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, for child support to remain in place and for parents to be responsible for college costs, the following requirements must be met:

The law provides exceptions to the requirements above, including but not limited to a physical disability or other diagnosed health problem. In addition, the court will consider other circumstances that may justify a delay in starting school by October 1 after graduation or require a child to take a semester off.   

If a child fails to meet the requirements above, the parent paying child support will need to file the appropriate documents with the court to initiate the court process to terminate child support.

 If the child is enrolled in an institution and meets the requirements above, the parent paying child support, or the child, may petition the court to have child support payments paid directly to the child instead of paying the other parent.

How Collaborative Divorce Can Help

While the court in contested cases can only obligate parents to pay for certain expenses until age 21, many parents agree as part of their divorce judgment to pay for expenses past age 21 and to include these agreements as part of their settlement agreement. For example, both parents will pay 50% of college expenses for eight semesters or even later if the parents wish to pay for graduate school or medical school.

Through the collaborative divorce process, parents can reach creative agreements for post-high school expenses that will work for everyone. In a traditional divorce case, the attorneys and judge often do not have the capacity or ability to explore creative options. With the support of the financial professional and the cooperative dynamic of the entire collaborative divorce team, parents can explore options for dividing property or setting aside assets to capture the most available funds for the entire family.  

Consulting with a collaborative divorce attorney will ensure that you are educated not only about the law, but about your options for working through the divorce process.