RESOLVING FAMILY CONFLICT:

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1 FLAFCC NEWSLETTER APRIL 2005 ON THE FLAFCC NEWSFRONT The Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts is pleased to announce its 5 th Annual Conference RESOLVING FAMILY CONFLICT: INNOVATIONS, INITIATIVES & ADVANCED SKILLS SAVE THE DATE! October 28-29, 2005 Tampa Airport Marriott Hotel Tampa, Florida Key Note Speaker: Justice Barbara Pariente

2 Featuring Canadian Justice Harvey Brownstone Preconference Institutes and Workshops on Parenting Coordination and Domestic Violence Issues, Mediation Ethics, Co-Parenting in Non-Traditional Families, Custody Resolution Strategies, Marketing Your Practice, Dependency Issues, Collaborative Law, Rotating Custody, Bounds of Advocacy, Domestic Violence, Advanced Topics for Custody Evaluators, Financial Affidavits, and Restorative Justice 2-for-1 Registration Promotion for all Court and DCF Employees For more information please contact: Deborah Day, Ph.D., at Mercedes McGowan, Ph.D, at APRIL EDITION 2005 Conference planning is really underway, and with it the promise of another enriching agenda, the opportunity for reacquainting and establishing professional relationships, and the forum for learning and professional growth. I am already looking forward it, hoping to see you all there for what is the Chapter without involvement from its members? Which brings me to this question: who actually reads this Newsletter? So as my own personal experiment, if you are actually scroll down or print this edition, please let me know - me at While you are at it, tell me what you think about the Chapter, and how you would like to become more involved. If you are not sure, I would be happy to you back with some opportunities for a perfect fit! Here are a few opportunities to think about: FLAFCC Newsletter - our Editor (and esteemed Past-President who is also incoming President of AFCC Judge Hugh Starnes) is always looking for articles. We also thought it might be fun to have member profiles. If you are interested in writing or soliciting articles, just let us know. FLAFCC Website - Have you checked out our Web site lately (FLAFCC.org)? It is a great way to learn more about the Chapter, to link easily with our parent organization, and to keep up with events and information (such as on parenting coordination). Our Chapter Secretary Nancy Blanton will be working with The Black Group to update and enhance our Web site. Would you be interested in being on a committee which looks at other ways our Web site can be useful? Just let us know.

3 FLAFCC Conference - Have you been to our conference before? Thanks to Deborah Day and Mercedes McGowan, last year s Conference Co-chairs, comments showed great appreciation for the organization and implementation of all the aspects of a conference that make it seem like a flawless production. Those behind the scene know how much effort that really took and we could use all of the help we can get! Interested in receiving accolades and appreciation? Just let us know. FLAFCC Membership - Are you friendly? Do you like making people feel welcomed? Do you believe in the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration? Are you interested in helping the Chapter grow throughout the state? I will put you in touch with Norberto Katz, our Membership Chair. Just let us know. No matter what your interest, we know that we have one thing in common: our goal of creating meaningful options for families to resolve conflicts. We can do that together. Become more active in the Chapter will welcome you. So, just shoot me an and let us know! Your very solicitous and inviting Chapter President, Linda Fieldstone COLLABORATIVE LAW NEWS - Rosemarie S. Roth So much is happening in the world of Collaborative Law. IACP, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals is now using the term Collaborative Practice which encompasses Collaborative Law and Collaborative divorce. In Collaborative Law, neutral professionals from other disciplines are used in the process as needed. In Collaborative Divorce, the neutral professionals are part of a team that works together throughout the process. For those of you interested in collaborative law and not yet trained, contact the IACP website at collaborativepractice.com to learn about upcoming trainings, IACP events including the Skills Institute in Dallas, Texas, on June 2, 3, and 4 th or the IACP Networking Forum in Atlanta, October 28-30, There is a training that will hopefully be scheduled this coming fall in Florida by two of the Florida practice groups and plans for it are in the works. Check the next FLAFCC newsletter or the IACP website where it will be pasted once scheduling is confirmed. The Collaborative Family Lawyers Institute (Miami collaborative practice group) had a successful luncheon in March for mental health professionals. The

4 feedback was excellent and the attendees were excited to learn about Collaborative Law and how they will have opportunities to participate in cases. Future luncheons are being planned to educate clergy members and other professional groups about the process. Ky Koch s law firm in Clearwater hosted a luncheon for mental health professionals in their community. The feedback Ky received was positive as well. Plans for luncheons of this sort are being considered by the Collaborative Lawyers of South Florida, the Fort Lauderdale practice group. The First Coast Collaborative Family Law of Jacksonville practice group sponsored a training seminar in February at the Florida Coastal School of Law. The participants were Nicolas Alexander, J.D. chair of the practice group, Susan Daicoff, Professor of Law at the Florida Coastal School of law, Nora Buschfield, J.D. of Atlanta, Georgia and Rosemarie S. Roth, J.D., chair of the Collaborative Family Lawyers Institute. The attendees were provided interactive participation which reinforced the concepts being taught. Each experience I have in teaching and training people about Collaborative Law increases my enthusiasm for the process because of the enthusiasm of the attendees. There cannot be enough trainings or seminars on Collaborative Law because, like mediation, the Bar and the public need to gain more familiarity and knowledge of the process and its benefits to families. Those of us who have observed the benefits to our clients and their families who have used collaboration are grateful to the mediation process for providing collaborative practitioners with some of the same conflict resolution skills. If you haven t perused the most recent edition, the seventh, of the Florida Bar CLE Dissolution of Marriage text there is a new chapter entitled Collaborative Law. My colleague, Judy Hodor, and I co-authored the chapter and the information provides an overview of the process. It is essential to be trained and understand the process before attempting to represent clients, however. Collaborative Law utilizes interest based negotiation and two good sources for understanding this negotiation process are Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury and Beyond Winning by Robert H. Mnookin. Mnookin is the director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and Fisher and Ury worked in the Project in the 1980's. If you have questions about Collaborative Practice, you can go online to the list serve for Collaborative Law at type in your question and you will receive responses to your questions. Take care and until our next column just remember that implementing collaborative law for divorcing couples will give them the good divorce and help them and their children maintain healthy family relationships!

5 MORE ON COLLABORATIVE LAW Contributing Editor Barbara Kelly, Ph.D., is working with a developing Collaborative Law Group in the Orlando area. One of their members wrote an informational article about Collaborative law which provides a history about Collaborative Law and addresses the roles of the "team" such as the attorneys, financial coach, mental health coach and child specialists. The author is Shannon Daniels. She is an attorney practicing in Winter Park, Florida and she has given permission for us to use her article. She will be writing a follow-up article in the future with more specifics of the process. The History In 1988, Stuart Webb, Minneapolis family law lawyer was considering quitting the practice of law due to what he termed family law burnout and the negativity involved in the practice of family law. Instead, Webb creatively addressed his frustration with family law practice by his unprecedented decision to practice law without going to court and by only representing clients in negotiations that were aimed solely at creative settlements and required full client participation. In cases where these settlement negotiations broke down, Webb withdrew as counsel and required the client to obtain a separate litigation attorney. According to Webb, the opportunity for settlement is enhanced once a lawyer is no longer subconsciously focusing on trial preparation and the attorney s success depends on settlement. During the first two years of this innovative practice, Webb handled 99 such cases and managed to settle all but four. After experiencing the success of Webb s new collaborative law model, Webb and several other Minneapolis practitioners founded the Collaborative Law Institute. The Collaborative Law Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and practice collaborative non-adversarial strategies to help clients in family law matters achieve agreement in a dignified and respectful manner. From its conception in Minneapolis, the collaborative law model soon spread to California where the Collaborative Divorce group in northern California sought to improve and expand upon Webb s vision. The group espoused that, given the emotional, legal and financial complexities of divorce, families would be better served by a team of professionals from separate but distinct disciplines including the legal, mental health, and financial professions. However, in keeping with Webb s original collaborative model, the group felt that all members of the team should adhere to Webb s original withdrawal stipulation. Thus, under the group s team-based collaborative law model, if the parties decided to opt for a litigation-based resolution, all team members would withdraw and none of the collaboratively produced materials could be used in the subsequent litigation process.

6 The Process Based on the above-described team-based approach, clients may become associated with the collaborative law concept through the guidance of an attorney, a therapist, or a financial professional, one of whom has been trained in the collaborative law model. Since its inception, the collaborative law movement has spread to states including California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah, and several Canadian provinces. Collaborative groups have been established that operate statewide or within certain counties or metropolitan areas. Participation in the collaborative law movement requires membership and training from a local collaborative law group. Professionals in the legal, mental health, and financial professions should check with their local collaborative law group for membership and training information. The Team: The Legal Coach: The legal portion of the collaborative process begins with the initial consultation. Attorneys should address all options for dispute resolution including litigation, mediation, and the collaborative process. The decision to pursue any of these options over another lies with the client. Once the client has decided to pursue the collaborative law process, the client s spouse must also agree to participate in the collaborative model and must use another attorney trained in the collaborative law process. Once both parties have chosen the collaborative method for dispute resolution, each party signs a participation agreement with his or her respective attorney. This participation agreement is similar to a standard representation agreement or fee contract; however, the participation agreement must specifically include the stipulation permitting the attorney to withdraw in the event the parties decide to pursue litigation. While some collaborative law groups generate participation agreements to be used by all group members, others permit members to draft individual participation agreements. The attorney, serving as the client s legal coach, works with the client, the spouse, and the spouse s attorney to create the team of professionals which will guide the parties though the collaborative process of divorce which includes several four-way sessions where creative settlements can be created. Generally, a collaborative team consists of two collaborative attorneys, two licensed mental health professionals serving as divorce coaches, another licensed mental health professional serving as a child specialist, and a financial specialist familiar with the financial aspects of divorce. All members of the team must be trained in the collaborative law process. The Divorce Coach: Most parties will benefit from a gender-balanced coaching team. The idea

7 behind pairing male divorce coaches with male clients and female divorce coaches with female clients may stem from Deborah Tannen s book, You Just Don t Understand, which explains how certain differences in the socialization of males and females contributes to difficulties in understanding one another. This communication problem, often exacerbated during the divorce process, can be alleviated by the gender-balanced approach. Divorce coaches focus on the emotional piece of the divorce process by teaching the client self management skills including anger management, stress reduction and communication skills. Parties with children will work specifically on co-parenting techniques and communication. Often divorce coaches will meet in four-way sessions to assist clients in the use of the newly developed communication and negotiation strategies. These new skills empower both parties to effectively communicate and relate during the remainder of a co-parenting relationship. The Child Specialist: A third mental health professional, the child specialist, serves as an advocate for the child. The child specialist asses the child during individual appointments and appointments with each parent. The child specialist should assess the child s development, temperament, relationship to family members - including extended family, - interests, emotional attachments and support structure, beyond the family. The child specialist works to support the child by providing an outside confidant while educating the parents and enhancing the parents awareness of and sensitivity to the child s feelings and needs. The child specialist s role is not to take sides or assign blame for specific problems; but to identify problems from the child s perspective and share them with the parents in a fashion that promotes resolution of that problem. Child specialists participate in four-way sessions by assisting the parties in creating specific parenting plans designed to appropriately and adequately address the child s needs. The Financial Coach: The financial coach a neutral party in the collaborative process charged with assisting the parties gather and organize household financial information. These coaches typically have financial planning backgrounds and are Certified Financial Planners or Certified Divorce Planners. In the litigation-based model, parties independently gather financial information and supply this information to his/her attorney. The attorney, in turn passes the information onto opposing counsel in order to facilitate legal settlement. The collaborative model offers the parties the opportunity to sit down together with a financial coach and address the parties assets and liabilities, the living expenses of a divided household, and tax ramifications of contemplated settlement terms. During this information gathering stage, the parties are discouraged from attempting to negotiate distribution of any assets or liabilities. The financial coach may assist one or both parties in creating a realistic post-divorce budget. Financial coaches can work with the less financial-savvy spouse on basic financial education including budgeting, tax issues, balancing a check book, or understanding retirement accounts. Common roadblocks to settlement including fear of the financial impact of divorce and

8 suspicion of hidden assets can be alleviated by the education and information gathering assistance provided by the financial coach. The team-based approach is grounded in the age-old adage two heads are better than one. Open communication between all team members is essential to any settlement. Active participation by each team member during four-way sessions leads to multiple settlement options that attorneys working across from each other during mediation may not have envisioned or conceived. Participation of professionals from multiple fields and clients who personally vested in the outcome vastly increases the number of possible ideas which can be adopted into the parties settlement. Repeat notice: AFCC Annual Conference in Seattle: May 18-21, 2005 This is shaping up to be the best AFCC conference ever! Seven Preconference Institutes and Fifty-two (count 'em, the brochure is on the website address below) workshops. Sign up at Collaboratively speaking, that's it for this month. Will we see you in Seattle? Hugh Starnes, Editor

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