Potential Client: Good morning, my wife who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area has decided she wants a divorce and has retained an attorney. I received a letter from the attorney stating that my wife is interested in the Collaborative Divorce model and that to use that model I would have to retain a Collaborative Attorney also. But I have done some investigation and have several questions, the first of which is, where is the “zealous advocacy” in the Collaborative Process?
Me: If you are looking for a process where the attorney uses any and all means to achieve the best possible outcome for you at the expense of your wife and family then Collaborative is probably not for you. A Collaborative attorney understands that you have important needs and interests and the goal of the process is to meet those needs and interests, but at the same time other family members have needs and interests too. Participants in the Collaborative process must care not only about the outcome for them, but also the outcome for their spouse and children. Advocacy in the Collaborative model is about making sure you are heard and understood, and helping you ensure that your most important needs and interests are met, and helping you and your wife craft a durable, mutually agreeable long-term agreement that works for both.
Potential Client: Well, what kinds of strategies and tactics are used to wear down the other party and/or to stall the process so they give in and I maximize my gain in the process.
Me: It appears that you did not hear what I just said. And to succeed in the Collaborative Process it is important that one be able to listen and really hear what is said. This process requires a certain amount of wisdom and emotional intelligence and frankly, there are some folks who are not ready to participate in a process of this type.