Discussing Collaborative Law as an Alternative to the Divorce Process with Guest Sheila Gardner

Many of you associate the divorce process with litigation. When I talk about litigation, I mean appearing before and presenting evidence to the judge to advance your position before the judge makes a decision on the outcome. There are also alternatives to litigation like collaborative law.

Today, I am joined by attorney and mediator Sheila Gardner the founder of Cooperative Strategies Family Law. Sheila joins us to discuss the ins and outs of collaborative law and what it means, how the process works, and who the various players are who make up the collaborative team.

As a trained collaborative attorney, Sheila is able to guide her clients to a mutually acceptable resolution in which both parties feel that their highest priorities have been addressed. She draws from a wealth of knowledge and experience as a practicing attorney. She also draws from her own personal experiences as a parent and a child who experienced divorce at a young age.

You can find Sheila here:
Cooperative Strategies Family Law

Show Notes:
[02:47] Sheila grew up in Milwaukee. In 1975, her parents got divorced. Her family was the first family that she knew of that was going through a divorce.
[03:40] Sheila remembers being six years old and watching cartoons while her father was loading things up in his truck.
[04:11] It was a shock when their mother told them that their dad was leaving.
[05:10] Her parents had the foresight to keep them together as a family even though their parents were not a couple anymore.
[07:17] As an attorney and parent, Sheila realized that she had a skill set that can help others in a way that will protect their children. She has lived it.
[08:53] About four years ago, Sheila realized that she was made for this work.
[10:29] Sheila realized that helping people with co-parenting was one of her callings. She’s found a place to connect her love of supporting parents with law.
[11:14] The idea of family law and litigation and going to trial didn’t sit well with her until she learned about collaborative practice.
[12:07] Collaborative law is an out-of-court dispute resolution process. This means you decide to settle your differences out-of-court.
[12:49] With collaborative law you have full support of a team which includes lawyers, mental health specialists, and even a financial specialist. Everyone is committed to helping the couple find their own solutions.
[17:36] Even though there are more people on the team, things can move more quickly with the collaborative law process. It also affords an opportunity to find resolutions for all of the issues and not have to return to court.
[19:40] How the teams for collaborative law are chosen.
[23:25] There is extensive training for collaborative law and certain standards that need to be maintained.
[24:40] Sheila truly loves people and wants to help them do law and approach conflict in a collaborative way.
[27:12] How collaborative law works for high conflict couples. Having the support of the mental health specialist is very important. Everyone on the team has been trained with conflict resolution strategies.
[34:46] Having a mental support of the child health specialist is invaluable for these children.
[35:09] Sheila also offers co-parenting support services.
[36:53] One of the first things that needs to happen is the creation of the co-parenting plan. This includes schedules, access, and living arrangements.
[37:36] Raising future adult starts with being goal centered.
[43:14] It’s not about the parents. It’s about the child getting to spend the time they need with their parents.
[44:17] What is the process for parent coordination like? Typically a parent coordinator is a mental health specialist. It can also be an attorney who is trained in parent coordination.
[45:09] In some jurisdictions, parent coordinators are appointed by judges.
[46:04] Parents should keep in mind that even though they are no longer a couple, they are still their child’s family.
[47:03] Security and consistency are the most important. Communication is the key to making this happen.
[49:28] Healthy co-parenting sends a message to the children on how to communicate with the world.
[49:50] Make sure to make transitions easy for the kids. Transitions from school can be a good solution.
Do you have any topics that you would like me to cover in future shows? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show, and if you are enjoying what you hear please leave a review on iTunes.

Links and Resources:
Cooperative Strategies Family Law
International Academy of Collaborative Law

How a Divorce Coach Can Help You Navigate the Divorce Process With Guest Cherie Morris

Cherie Morris is a divorce coach, parent coordinator, an author, and a mother. While going through her own divorce, Cherie recognized a need for an organized framework and a path to communication. Transitioning through divorce can be an emotionally charged time and having tools and professionals in place to assist along the way is essential.

Now Cherie uses her expertise and personal experience to help others go through the divorce process and to transition and coparent in a way that is best for the children. In this episode, Cherie shares what it is to be a divorce coach and a parent coordinator. She shares some of the problems that arise with communication and expectations. Along with, how to find the support you need to frame the process in way that respects a family even after divorce.

You can find Cherie here:
Dear Divorce Coach
Dear Divorce Coach on Facebook
@DearDivorceTeam on Twitter
Dear Divorce Coach on Pinterest
Dear Divorce Coach on Instagram
Cherie Morris on LinkedIn

Show Notes:
[02:13] Cherie went through her divorce after being in a long-term marriage and having children.
[02:24] She had experienced divorce through her parents and friends, but what was different was that her spouse was very unprepared for coparenting and making decisions that were good for the family.
[02:55] Even after a divorce if you have children, you are still a family in many ways.
[03:11] Cherie had a top-notch lawyer and a good therapist. She was also a lawyer. Still, she felt that an objective thinking partner was missing from the process.
[03:52] She needed someone to help steer her clear from the pitfalls when emotions are high and logic is not always at the forefront.
[04:01] After her divorce, she discovered that this training was available.
[04:05] Cherie was ending her legal practice and saw this as an opportunity to pursue her passion and help others going forward with their divorces.
[04:17] This led to Cherie’s current career as a divorce coach and parent coordinator.
[04:51] Things that people should be thinking about when going through the divorce process.
[05:26] First off, you should always ask, can this marriage be saved? Have you done the work to repair the marriage if possible?
[05:54] Have you contemplated how things will look financially after the divorce?
[06:39] Always looked as closely as you can so that there are no unexpected surprises
[06:46] Ask what type of co-parent you expect your spouse to be.
[07:58] What is a divorce coach?
[08:28] The divorce coach holds your hand every step of the journey from the contemplation stage to the possible post-divorce complications.
[09:54] You will also need an attorney and possibly a therapist for emotional support.
[10:23] A certified divorce financial analyst is also very helpful.
[10:46] The divorce coach also provides help on the parenting front and making decisions with the co-parent.
[11:23] A divorce coach provides support and helps find professionals to meet whatever needs the divorcing couple is going through.
[12:35] A divorce coach also helps you frame your values.
[13:50] A divorce coach helps you decide what you want based on your values and helps you stay organized in the process.
[15:23] Coaches keep things private but not secret.
[16:23] If there’s no direct communication sometimes everything is misunderstood.
[18:14] Once the divorce is final, there is still more that needs to be done. Cherie helps with the life transition.
[20:21] Hiring a coach is less expensive than an attorney and clients can turn to the coach with non legal issues also helping to contain the cost of the divorce.
[20:42] This also allows the attorney to focus on the divorce and not the noise.
[24:33] Having someone who has done analytical work makes a great divorce coach. Therapists also make good divorce coaches.
[26:29] Parent coordination services consist of helping a parent or a couple resolve parenting disputes.
[27:04] She may help with framing emails or help with a couples communication.
[28:13] How a parenting plan is sometimes an overlooked part of divorce. This outlines a custody schedule with specific plans.
[31:40] The process for hiring a parent coordinator.
[34:25] Examples of parent coordination.
[34:40] The most common complaint from divorced parents is that they either can’t get a response or the response they get is rude.
[35:02] You have to understand that you can’t control another person.
[35:06] Then draft emails that indicate a deadline.
[35:32] View the communications through a different lens more like a business relationship.
[37:19] How people need to be heard and need to feel like someone is listening to them.
[38:18] Cherie has two different contracts binding and nonbinding.
[39:39] The cost of a parent coordinator is actually a little bit more than you would pay an attorney.
[40:48] Whether you are contemplating a divorce or beginning the process, Cherie’s new book is very helpful SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?: Tools To Help You Make Practical and Emotional Decisions When Thinking About Separation and Divorce.
[43:22] Cherie has  clients all over the country and can serve people remotely. She offers free consultations and has tons of resources on her website.
Do you have any topics that you would like me to cover in future shows? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show, and if you are enjoying what you hear please leave a review on iTunes.

Links and Resources:
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?: Tools To Help You Make Practical and Emotional Decisions When Thinking About Separation and Divorce
Dear Divorce Coach
Dear Divorce Coach on Facebook
@DearDivorceTeam on Twitter
Dear Divorce Coach on Pinterest
Dear Divorce Coach on Instagram
Cherie Morris on LinkedIn

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