Expectations of Clients and Professionals

1. Be respectful: Be respectful to everyone in the meetings.
2. Be informal in our sessions: Use first names for each other and the professionals. Avoid “he” or “she”.
3. Speak for yourself: Use “I” statements. When you speak for yourself, you use “I”, “me”, or “my”. When you speak for yourself you take responsibility for what you say, and you own your statements. This helps your messages be clear and easier for others to hear. Others will be more likely to accept what you say and less apt to discount your thoughts, feelings, and wants. For example:
“I need more time to think about …” “Here are my thoughts on that question…” “Your understanding of this is helpful for me…”
4. Listen without interruption: You will listen better and hear more if you avoid going into your head to think up a response to what is being said. Instead, listen in order to understand. Try not to judge the person or his/her message. See if you can summarize what the other person has said. Ask questions about what you have heard. This will keep you from getting defensive and/or becoming reactive in the meetings. Each of you will have a chance to say what you need to say. This is one of the many benefits of the Collaborative practice.
5. Avoid blaming: Address the problems and concerns at hand without blaming. Stay away from “you” statements. “You” statements mean that you are speaking for others. This tends to stimulate defensiveness in others and resistance to what you say. Others may see this as an attempt on your part to control their thoughts, feelings, or wants. For example:
“You think our children would be better off without …” “You always come across as arrogant and selfish.” “You have no intention …” “You never listen.”
6. Avoid positions: Problem-solve by looking at all the options. Be open to hear from your spouse and/or others about thoughts and concerns.
“I want to be fair … I’d like to discuss …” “I feel resistant to what you’re saying, but I’m willing to hear you out and think about what you’ve said.” Let’s see if we can come up with a solution. Here’s my idea …”
7. Best interests: Think about what is in the best interests of your children and family. Work towards the most constructive agreement – one that is acceptable to you, your spouse, and your family.
8. Complaints: When you have a complaint, raise it as your concern, and, when possible, follow it up with a constructive suggestion as to how it might be resolved.
9. Personal Concerns: If something is not working for you, please tell your lawyer and/or your coach so your concern can be addressed. Talk to your lawyer about anything you do not understand. Your lawyer can clarify matters for you.
10. Commitment to a Collaborative Divorce: Be willing to commit time to meet on a regular basis. Be prepared for each meeting.
11. Patience: Be patient with each other and the Collaborative professionals. Delays in Collaborative Divorce can happen even with everyone acting in good faith. Everyone is tempted to go straight to his or her own answers. It doesn’t work. If it did, you wouldn’t need professionals.
12. Trust the Collaborative Process: Everyone, clients and lawyers included, is tempted to go straight to their own answers. It doesn’t work. Following the process will lead to mutually acceptable solutions that can sustain an amicable family relationship.