By Kathryn Engel, Attorney at Law
Their 18-year marriage was ending, that much was sure.
Much less clear was how Sue and Jim (not their real names) would navigate the
divorce or what impact the split would have on their three children.
Seeking to salvage communication for their children’s sake, Sue sought out the
collaborative process. Meanwhile, Jim fought the idea of divorce in a
passive-aggressive manner. He missed deadlines, cancelled meetings and stalled
the process as long as he could.
Sue had very little tolerance for this behavior. Meetings and conversations were
difficult. The fact that Jim worked for Sue’s parents, in the family
business, made collaboration even more critical.
With attorneys representing both parties, a collaborative divorce team also often
includes a divorce coach, a financial specialist and a child specialist. At
each meeting with Sue and Jim, this group of professionals secured a renewed
pledge that each was committed to working honestly and with integrity.
The couple managed to resolve their issues and move on, but it was not without a
great deal of concerted effort from these professionals. There was continual
emotional conflict, along with mounting acrimony and negativity that, if not
handled properly, could have easily catapulted their case
Collaborative Divorce professionals are committed to conflict management and creative resolution, adopting a mindset and implementing a skill set altogether
different than those employed by traditional divorce attorneys.
The process of Collaborative Divorce is an art that requires talent honed by extensive training.
While it’s easy for any attorney to say he or she works in “collaborative” fashion,
those seeking this better path to divorce should know that a Collaborative
Fellow is required to have at least 40 hours of mediation training as well as ongoing technique training.
For example, starting on Oct. 18, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals is holding a four-day annual Networking and Educational Forum in Chicago.
It is the largest, most comprehensive interdisciplinary conference in the field of Collaborative Practice, whose roots date back only to the 1980s.
In the midst of a world that seems to be growing increasingly contentious, the gathering brings together top practitioners from across the globe who are committed to serving all of the Sues, Jims—and their children—who are going through one of the most difficult stages that can occur in any family’s life.
Kathryn Engel, who has a law office in Park Ridge and Hinsdale and serves on the
Board of Directors for the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, online at www.collablawil.org. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 630-654-3501.