I’ve heard about the involvement about other professionals in a collaborative divorce? Why do you believe that makes the process more efficient, cost-effective, etc.?
In traditional adversarial divorce, the lawyers have an incentive to work with other professionals who are not focused on resolution of the underlying disputes. Collaborative divorce involves a team approach that involves a coach (or two coaches) and a financial neutral. It may involve a child specialist. By using financial neutrals the process tends to be far more cost-effective and efficient.
What’s this I hear about the role of the “coach?” How does this work?
In collaborative practice in Illinois, your choice is whether to use the services of one neutral coach or two coaches. There are pros and cons of using one coach or two coaches. A coach is significantly different from a counselor — although the coach used in collaborative divorce will be a mental health professional. The coach or coaches will do do three things which are invaluable to both the clients and the lawyers involved: help the client discern his or her needs; help the client articulate his or her needs clearly; and help the client hear the other spouse’s needs respectfully. The coach will be trained in interest based negotiation and will help the couple learn how to utilize these techniques at the collaborative table for a more efficient process. In taking these steps the coach helps to build post-divorce environment that is healthy and productive for the individuals and their children. While counseling and therapy are past-focused, coaching is present and future-oriented. Coaching is focused on accomplishing the tasks needed to best help a person focus upon cost-effective resolution of divorce.
What other professionals are involved in a collaborative divorce?
Collaborative practice involves a collaboration not only between the attorneys; but it is a collaboration which will bring all the professionals together. The core group of professionals in a collaborative divorce are lawyers, the coach(es), the financial consultant and potentially a child specialist. The goal is to bring together the best professionals so that a couple may take as much “ownership” of their own divorce as is possible.
Explain the role of the child specialist.
A child specialist is a member of the interdisciplinary team in a collaborative divorce process. During this process, the child specialist talks with the parents and meets with the child to assess the child’s needs and concerns. The child specialist also assists the parents in recognizing and meeting the developmental needs of the child, while providing the child a voice in the divorce process. Unlike a custody evaluator, the child specialist does not necessarily make specific recommendations. The child specialist works with the coaches and the parents to help the couple make informed decisions in order to help their child. See: http://collablawil.org/collaborative-team/child-specialist/
What About Your Collaborative Colleague (the Other Lawyer): Are there other lawyers with whom you have worked regularly?
Yes. For work on the North Shore, Gunnar Gitlin does not bill for the travel time. Excellent and experienced collaborative lawyers on the north shore include:
- Carlton Marcyan: Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck; [I cannot say enough positive things about Carlton.]
- Nancy Shafer, Highland Park; [Nancy’s has a unique skill set as a collaborative divorce lawyer and mediator. She and I have worked on countless seminars, etc., together. She has been the former President of the Illinois Chapter for the AAML]
- Jerald Kessler; Libertyville; [Jerald has excellent skills as a mediator and collaborative lawyer. I have referred many mediation cases to him.]
- Michelle Wiejecka, Hawthorn Woods; [Michelle and I have resolved many collaborative cases together and work well together. She is an experienced trial lawyer who is practical and honest.]
- Gretchen Fisher, Libertyville.
Lawyers locally include:
- Cynthia Lamb, Crystal Lake;
- Tom Vaclavek, Larry Manassa and Shawna Stassen (Barrington); [like the Gitlin Law Firm the lawyers of Larry’s firm are all or virtually all trained in collaborative divorce.]
- Linda Cunabaugh, Crystal Lake; [Linda is one of the finest family lawyers in McHenry County.]
- Anna Bush, Barrington; [Anna and I have worked well together in many collaborative cases.]
- Tamara Marshall, Crystal Lake; [Tamara is an extraordinarily skilled divorce lawyer.]
- Sandy Goddard and Jessica Malmquist, Barrington; [Sandy Goddard has unique and excellent skill set for collaborative practice.]
- Susan S. Polacheck, Barrington.