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What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is a less costly emotional and financial way to divorce. It is the most advantageous way to divorce that considers all family members. To learn more about the Collaborative Law process and the roles of a Coach and Childcare Specialist, please read Collaborative divorce: An oxymoron? When considering Collaborative Law, it is important to understand all divorce or process options.

Tell Me about Your Experience

Next, I want to hear your story.  Divorce Mediation is a delicate process that requires time and commitment and strives to consider the well-being of all those affected. Therefore, giving everyone a voice is important.  Parents and children will be asked to draft a 2 page single-spaced document of their experience. The format for this letter is as follows; (1) how was family life prior to the divorce/separation, (2) what you believed caused the divorce or separation, (3) how have things been since the decision to divorce/separate was made and (4  are there any ground rules they would like to implement during the mediation process, which is for the parents. . Children of the divorcing parents will be asked to write about (1) their experience in the family; what they like and dislike about the family, (2) how they generally feel about how the family is functioning and (3) what they are hoping to see happen during this process. This process is to help create an appropriate space for venting and to capture thoughts that will assist in moving successfully through the mediation process.   It is best if the letter is typed and emailed to or brought with you to your first mediation. 

Divorce & Trauma

Divorce has been identified as a common traumatic event for families, particularly for children.   Trauma leads to disrupted neurodevelopment, social-emotional and cognitive impairment, an increase in risky behaviors, disease, disability, social problems, and even early death.  Although divorce is difficult, it does not need to be traumatic.  As a collaborative law professional, my goal as a Coach is to help participants prioritize their concerns, process their feelings and differences in healthy ways, stay focused on their goals by neutralizing or minimizing destructive emotions, communicate effectively with each other, with their lawyers, and with their children, and provide them with tools for positive co-parenting in their post-separation lives.  As a Child Specialist,  my job is to understand the unique needs of your child(ren) and ensure their needs are brought to the table, prevent them from being "in the middle" and educate parents on relevant child development issues.  I also help to reduce the traumatic effect divorce can have on parents and their children.  

The key to being productive during the divorcing process begins with you, the parents.  Here are some initial helpful resources that can assist you with how to start moving forward; six conflict management skills, co-parenting, The Collaborative wat to Divorce and Our Family Wizard.  

Preventing Toxic Stress from Undermining your Life, Relationships and the Mediation Process 

Don't let chronic or  toxic stress undermine your life, relationship, and the mediation process.  Your health, well-being and parental adjustment (psychological adjustment of parents which significantly impact children's well-being) are key components to a productive mediation process, its outcome and moving forward in your life.   This self-care assessment can help guide you on tending to areas of your life that facilitate healthy brain development and functioning and will better help you to be emotionally and psychologically prepared for mediation.  It is recommended that you seek counseling for you and or your children during this difficult time.  Having emotional support from a competent and compassionate professional can be invaluable during this challenging period in you and your children's life.  You can either ask me, your mediation, for a referral or go to PsychologyToday.  Participating in a divorce support group can be beneficial as well; Divorce Care.

For substance abuse treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous,, Narcotics Anonymous or Al-anon, click in the links provided.   

The Day of Your Mediation

The day of your mediation, it is important that you get to treat mediation like you are preparing for a very important exam; (1) be well rested, (2) eat a hearty meal, (3) relax your mind and body with mindfulness practices such as meditation, prayer, conversing calmly with family and friends.  Polyvagal theory provides context for these important practices which ultimately saves you time, money, energy and greatly increases the chances of being successful in mediation.

Central Documents and Definitions

The centerpiece of the Collaborative Law process is the parenting plan.   Here is an example parenting plan for your convenience.   Be prepared to review the Collaborative Law agreement (a contractual agreement that outlines fees, procedures, and responsibilities) in the first meeting.  Completing the client profile will be the next steps after your initial meeting.   You may also refer to the library for more helpful resources.  

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