The Power of Collaborative Practice

Posted By Abie Greengarten  
15:34 PM

I recently read an interesting article in Sunday’s The Sun-Herald written by Caitlin Fitzsimmons titled “Collaborative divorces put ‘skin in the game’”.

Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Divorce fits philosophically into my search to assist others to change their lives for the better, helping people achieve positive outcomes for themselves and their families, in whatever iteration works best for them.

So my journey into this special field of law, human science and finance began with correspondence to lawyers and being directed to or

The next step in this odyssey was to enroll in a 3-week course Online IACP (International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) Intro Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice Training, together with 20 or so participants from about 7 countries including US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and India.

The reading material and the courseware was thorough as the quality and delivery of the three presenters, a Lawyer, a Coach and a Financial Neutral. Role plays by both the presenters and the participants were very illustrative and insightful.

Collaborative Practice deals with the 3 fundamental issues surrounding divorce namely the emotional, the financial and the legal by placing a team of professionals around the divorcing couple, consisting of a Lawyer for each of the couple, a Coach or social scientist looking after their emotional and psychological needs and the independent financial person, who is referred to as the Financial Neutral.

The teachings require a paradigm shift in traditional professional thinking from controlling the conversation to asking questions and a guiding the Couple to make decisions in their combined best interests.

Collaborative Practice is a dignified, respectful, empowering process during which divorcing parties can find a safe place to meet, agree and implement plans about their individual futures.

Governed by a non-adversarial binding Participation Agreement, they, and the Team work together toward an outcome which takes into account their and their children’s best interests.

The magic sauce is the Collaborative Team who are specially trained to reduce conflict and, where applicable, seek to protect children from damage caused by high conflict divorce; The Team Members help clients craft creative decisions; they acknowledge emotion & ensure it is dealt with respectfully; they ensure that the Couple sign an agreement not to go to court; they control the pace of the Process and they create a legacy of trust and goodwill to move forward.

While the role of the Lawyers is relatively well known, not so for the other Team Members.

The Coach assists with communication, calms the Couple, identifies key and important interests to both parties, while the Financial Neutral helps the Couple make informed financial decisions.

The Power of decision-making is transferred back to the Couple, rather than the professionals and the Court in the event the matter turns litigious. The process is holistic and has the potential of leading to a settlement outcome where, over time, both sides can be proud of themselves and each other.