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.

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO – ENGAGING YOUR SPOUSE IN A NON-ADVERSARIAL DIVORCE PROCESS

You may have decided to divorce, done your own research and determined that the best path forward for you and your family is a non-adversarial divorce process such as mediation or a collaborative divorce.  Unlike divorce litigation, which you can begin without the cooperation of your spouse, a non-adversarial divorce requires the commitment of both of you to work towards an agreement outside of the courtroom.  If your spouse has only consulted with a litigation lawyer, friends and family, or has not thought about the divorce at all, s/he may be far from on the same page with you in thinking about a cooperative process.  Before you give up hope and proceed to litigation, you may try the following tips to encourage your spouse to consider working with you towards the best outcome for all in your family.

  1. Don’t try to negotiate the substance of the issues with your spouse.  It’s not unusual to want to jump to the finish line, of decision making, what will the custody schedule be, who will keep the house, etc. This can lead to an immediate impasse and the impression that you will be unable to reach agreements outside of court.  Instead, focus only on making the decision of how you will get divorced, whether that be negoti ating on your own, mediation or a collaborative process.  Wait until you have that process firmly in place before proceeding to substantive negotiations.
  2. Don’t do anything that might alarm your spouse.  Making threats, moving assets, cutting off access to funds, are steps that are sometimes taken out of fear, but which increase distrust and can lead to a snowball of adversarial actions.  Try to maintain an even keel and the status quo while you make these important decisions.  You may want to discuss with your own lawyer in advance the pros and cons of taking any action that might appear draconian to your spouse, before doing so.
  3. Share information. There are a number of good resources, which your collaborative lawyer can provide, to give to your spouse that outline the divorce options and pros and cons of each.  These include materials that you can find on websites such as mediate.com, collaborativepractice.com and https://stlouiscollaborativelaw.com.  Give your spouse time to do his/her own research after providing this information.
  4. Encourage a consultation with a collaborative lawyer, collaborative coach, or a mediator.  Your spouse does not have to agree to use mediation or the collaborative process. S/he only needs to agree to make an initial appointment to take the first positive steps in that direction.  In an initial mediation appointment, which both of you attend, the mediator generally outlines the mediation process, provides you with details about how the process works, and allows you the option of then making the decision to proceed with scheduling additional mediation sessions at that time, or going home to think about it.  This is a relatively inexpensive and non-threatening way to introduce non-adversarial processes.  Similarly, your spouse could make an appointment on his/her own for an initial consultation with a collaborative lawyer.  While many litigation lawyers do not take the time to do so, most collaborative lawyers spend time in the initial consultation helping the client understand and evaluate the non-adversarial options. An initial meeting with the two of you and a collaborative divorce coach can also serve this purpose and is a non-threatening way to begin a divorce process.
  5. Enlist the aid of other trusted professionals.  If you have a marriage counselor, therapist, financial consultant or other trusted advisor who is familiar with the divorce process options, that person may help your spouse to evaluate whether any of the non-adversarial options are advisable for him/her.  If the advisor is not familiar with the options, your own collaborative lawyer may be willing to talk with the advisor to education him/her in the process options in order to assist you.

It is difficult to make decisions when emotions are high, and trust is low.  By providing your spouse with the resources to support him/her as s/he evaluates the options, you may be able to reach an agreement on the most effective and efficient process for both of you in moving through the divorce in as healthy a way as possible for your family.

Collaborative divorce is one of several non-adversarial divorce options. Explore our site to learn more about this process. You may also want to learn about the difference between collaborative divorce and litigation.

Sue Amato is a collaboratively trained family law attorney and she is available to discuss your Missouri divorce options. Sue can be reached at (314) 727-7122.

Website: http://amatofamilylaw.com

Why Won't My Divorce Case Settle?

PROBLEM:  My divorce has been going on for months.  I want it over.  Why won’t my case settle?

Those involved in a family law litigation matter, are generally eager for their case to be “over” so that they can move on with life plans with some degree of certainty.  If your attorney has told you that very few cases go to trial before a judge, “settlement” becomes the primary focus of the litigation, yet at times can seem impossible to achieve.  Why?  The short answer is that there has been no agreement reached.  What are some of the impediments to reaching an agreement? This article addresses property issues, and not child support, spousal support (maintenance in Missouri) or child custody.

Addressing The Divorce Issues

Missing Information: Divorce Courts in Missouri are required to divide all property and debt, as well as set aside to the appropriate party any separate non-marital property. Without complete information on all the property and debt (do not forget frequent flyer miles and other awards points), there is no way to assess the options for the division of property and debt. Sometimes the information can be obtained easily.  Account statements and car titles are usually obtained easily.  When you need an appraisal of a home or a business interest valued, this information is more difficult to come by. If one party cooperates and the other doesn’t, it can take long months instead of a few weeks to obtain the necessary information in order to look at the options for the division of property and debt.

Disagreements on Values. Competing assessments as to what the worth of cars and homes can make a meeting of the minds on property settlement difficult.  This is often due to each party going online and determining what the cars are worth, or each party to a case paying several hundred dollars to have different appraisals as to the value of the marital residence.

Attorneys with different approaches. When the parties to a family law matter select their attorneys, they are usually not doing this together. They are each consulting with friends, family and colleagues or going online without checking in with each other.  Their selections are often personal and most often fail to take into consideration how their attorney views the work ahead.  Is the attorney going to acknowledge that there are paths to settlement than can circumvent some of the negative fallout of traditional litigation?  Is the attorney one who encourages open sharing of information or assists his or her client in making the other attorney and party get information the hard way with costly subpoenas, depositions and motions before the court?  The selection of attorneys can set the course for a good resolution without undue delay or protracted process ending with a less than satisfactory settlement for both parties—often because the fees to the attorneys took much of the martial assets.

Lack of a joint commitment to resolution. Too often, the parties have not made a firm commitment to each other to work toward a resolution that they both can live with.  Without this commitment early on, it is easy to spend time and energy disputing the other person’s point of view rather than working to find common ground.

SOLUTION:  Before you begin the divorce process, consider how best to commit to resolving the issues and following through on the commitment. This may mean that you and the other party may have to put aside some serious differences of opinion as to the how and why of the break up.  It may mean that you determine the process that you want to use BEFORE finding attorneys.  You may start with a mediator and then select attorneys to assist you in the mediation process. You may want to explore the option of the collaborative process, with its team of financial, mental health and legal professionals.  If you commit to an approach that is settlement rather than litigation-oriented, you may find you save money that enables you to move forward with less stress, as well as save your emotional energy for that next phase of your life.