Title: CLI Summer Social – Mississippi River Boat Cruise
Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Time: 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Location:
The Boat: Magnolia Blossom Cruises
2500 Crosby Farm Road, St Paul, MN 55116
Parking: Public Parking is available at the site. When you pull into the marina, you and your guests will park in the parking lot and walk through the gate, the boat is located slightly to the right. The Magnolia Blossom is the only commercial boat in the marina.
Boarding: Starts at 5:30pm. The boat will depart promptly at 6pm.
Registration Fee: $45
CLI Emeritus & Student Members: $25
Sponsors per benefit package
Menu: Firecracker chicken skewers, BBQ meatballs, jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, fresh vegetables, chicken salad, artisan cheeses wit crackers, bruschetta. Cash Bar.
Who Should Attend: CLI members, family, and guests.
Social Committee Chairs:
Brian Burns | brian@mnrelationshiprepair.com
Brett Leschinsky| Brett@mortgageforest.com

For questions on registration contact: Sandy Beeson: cli@collaborativlaw.org

CLI MN Member Social Sponsors
Brittany Pearson | Pearson Family Law PLLC
Rebecca Randen | RANDEN, CHAKIROV & GROTKIN LLC
Katrina Viegas | Beaumier Trogdon Orman Hurd & Viegas PLLP
Amy Wolff | AJW Financial, Inc.

Thank you to our Annual Partner Sponsors for their continuing support of CLI!

In Part 1, vortex was defined as: 1) a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it towards its center; 2) a place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that it surrounds, and hence, being inescapable or destructible.tropical-cyclone-catarina-1167137_1920 The second definition provides a visual for what many think a divorce “looks like.”  While the end of a marriage is emotionally tumultuous and devastating, the actual legal process of uncoupling does not have to be.  But, it is critical that you choose a process that promotes healing.  The Collaborative Process does just that. Collaboration is a holistic approach to divorce.  It can be utilized by couples who are ending either a marriage or significant relationship, or who have a child or children together.  Although some people question whether it is an appropriate process when domestic abuse or mental health/chemical dependency issues are present, many others think it can (and should) at least be attempted.  If you don’t want to be another “divorce horror story,” the Collaborative Process will likely be a great fit. Collaboration focuses on the future (i.e., the relationship of co-parenting in two homes) rather than the past (i.e. the vilification of one spouse); is a win-win for both partners (rather than a court-imposed win-lose); and emphasizes the well-being of the entire family.  You don’t air your dirty laundry in court, and you aren’t (literally) judged.  In fact, you never set foot in a courtroom.  The negotiation model is interest-based/win-win, rather than positional/win-lose.  You pay attorneys to help you solve problems, not argue and keep you stuck in the past.  Every family is unique, so every family deserves a unique solution.  And if you have young children, please keep in mind they need you present and available.  You can’t be present when you are fighting the other parent in court.  In Part 3, we will discuss the various professionals in the Collaborative Process and how their expertise can help you avoid the divortex.
aA collaborative law colleague recently wrote a lovely piece in the Boston Globe describing his reasons for leaving his litigation practice behind and representing clients only in alternative dispute resolution processes. His article resonated greatly with me. I too left behind a litigation practice to enter the world of peacemaking. While not an easy choice at the time, I look back six years later and realize that these years have been the most fulfilling of my career.  I have not stepped foot in a courtroom in almost six years. I am thankful for many things in my current “out of court” career, but here are just a few:
  • I spend my days working with clients on resolutions that meet their big picture goals.
  • My conversations and negotiations are fruitful, honest and genuine.  The teams I work with and clients who choose me are seeking this type of interest-based negotiation without gamesmanship or posturing.
  • My colleagues are professionals with passion and dedication to help people through transitions in their marriage – many are my friends, including attorneys who are on the “other side” representing my client’s spouse.
  • I can be creative in tailoring outcomes to meet my clients goals.
  • We can tailor my work to each client and what they need and want out of the process.
  • I am a peacemaker who is at peace.
Peacemaking professionals provide the best experience for clients.  I share my own story as a practitioner in the hopes that potential clients will read this and get a sense of who I am.  Knowing that, clients too may choose a path of peacefulness.
question markWhen getting divorced, it is important to have a support network.  Having a sounding board and friends to talk through things with can help you evaluate options.  They can remind you that you are not alone.  Acquaintances who have gone through divorce themselves or who have certain expertise (like financial or real estate), may be able to help you with some of the decisions. Everyone needs someone to talk to. However, sometimes well-intentioned people can cause more harm during the divorce process than good.  Everyone seems to have a neighbor that somehow obtained a “better deal” than you did.  They either received more in settlement or support than you are considering or they paid less than you.  This “Greek Chorus” phenomenon can slow down progress and make a collaborative process more difficult than it needs to be. When reaching out to others for support during divorce, keep the following things in mind:
  • Remember that you live with your resolutions.  If something feels right to you, it might be best to not let your friends talk you out of it.
  • You can always ask your support network to just listen.
  • Figure out how you feel after talking through things with certain friends – if it doesn’t make you feel better or more positive about resolutions, they may not be the best support.
  • If you ask for advice, be very specific about what you are asking for and let your support know that you may not take their advice, you are just gathering information.
  • Be careful if you seek advice on one piece of the settlement without considering all elements.
  • You can always use your collaborative attorney as your sounding board instead of peers.   Your friends and family can support you in other ways.
blog picWhile researching for this post, I came across a number of divorce-related blogs.  The blog medium provides an efficient and concise opportunity to share information and educate the public.  This blog focuses on the collaborative process — where clients commit to an out-of-court, non–adversarial process. Here are some other blogs that may provide additional information as you navigate the divorce process:
  • Jeff Landers writes in Forbes Magazine about complex financial issues that women face in divorce.  He is a Certified Divorce Financial Planner who has extensive experience with high asset divorces.  His blog is informative and financially savvy.
  • Divorced Girl Smiling is a personal blog written by a woman during – and now after her divorce.  It is a personal account of her experience, as well as a gathering of resources for others who may be going through the same thing.  The archived blogs provide a great path through the litigation process, and provides some insight into why a non-adversarial approach may be better.
However you choose to get advice, being armed with information and prepared for the process can help you feel confident and ready for the transitions that come with divorce. There is a lot of information available online, if you know where to find it.
BLD077218In the Twin Cities, many family law attorneys offer a free consultation to learn about your options.  This is a time to meet your potential new attorney and ask your questions.  The consultation can serve three main purposes. First, you can learn about your divorce options.  There are four general processes for divorce:
  1. pro se/unrepresented where you go through the process without legal guidance;
  2. mediation where a neutral third party helps you come up with the agreements;
  3. collaborative divorce where both parties commit to a respectful out of court process with lawyers and other professionals guiding the process; and
  4. litigation, the court-based traditional process.  A good consultation should educate you on all of these options.
Second, the consultation allows you to learn some basic information about the issues in a divorce.  The attorney can discuss the main legal issues that need to be decided during a case – such as child custody, parenting time, spousal maintenance, or property division.  Clients often have specific questions about these categories and what may or may not be relevant to their situation. Third, the consultation allows you to get to know someone and see if it is a good fit for legal work.  One of the most important aspects of a consultation is the opportunity for you to meet a potential attorney and see if you will be comfortable working with them. Your attorney is your guide. You may cry or express anger in front of this person – you need to feel comfortable doing so. In addition to legal adeptness and zealous advocacy, you also must be comfortable and trust your attorney. This is perhaps the most important element of the relationship. You should know that when you are just meeting an attorney for a consultation, the attorney cannot give you legal advice or answer legal questions with certainty. Because the consulting attorney does not have a client relationship, you and your spouse could meet with the attorney together. This is often a good way for you both to hear information together. When you receive the same message, you often feel less adversarial and more like you are both seeking a guide for the process. Please contact a collaborative attorney for a free consultation to learn more about your options.
72918896-two-figures-held-together-by-hearts-around-gettyimagesCollaborative Divorce was started in Minnesota 25 years ago and has spread to more than 20 countries because it meets two basic needs felt by divorcing couples around the world. What does it mean to say that a divorce is Collaborative? First, it is important to understand that difference between the formal Collaborative divorce process (with a capital C) and the use of the word collaborative. To be collaborative simply means to work together and, in that sense, any divorce in which people work together could be described as collaborative, (small c). However, the Collaborative divorce process is something distinctly different. Most people want to keep their divorce amicable, and Collaborative Divorce gives them the tools to work out of court to make that happen. At the same, people facing divorce want to know that they are protected; that they have someone looking out for their interests. Collaborative Divorce provides each party with an attorney who will work with them to help them achieve their most meaningful goals. In a Collaborative Divorce, the attorneys must withdraw if the matter goes to court in an adversarial proceedings. That is the one rule. A rule that is simple and yet, changes the entire tenor of the divorce negotiation.   It is a great example of addition by subtracting. By subtracting one element, (the ability of the lawyers to fight), a door is opened to add many more valuable tools (true interest based-bargaining, teaming with financial experts and mental health professionals, deeper solutions, etc.). That one change redefines the negotiation and creates a ripple effect that, if handled in a skillful manner, creates many more options. People sometimes hire aggressive lawyers, reluctantly; believing that their spouse will be aggressive and that they, therefore, need to “fight fire with fire”. The problem, of course, is that fighting fire with fire means there is a great risk that someone (maybe everyone) will get burned. Collaborative Divorce, with the agreement not to fight, is intended to put out the fire, so that you, and your spouse, can build their future on solid ground.   That is not easy to achieve. It requires skill and commitment. An attorney who cannot use argument and fighting must have other skills. Equally important, clients who intend to achieve their highest goals without fighting must be prepared to work on developing other skills as well. To learn more about the Collaborative Process and to find experts with skill and experience in this area, go to www.collaborativelaw.org or www.divorcechoice.com.
Ask anyone who has ever gone through a divorce whether they have recommendations for how the process could have gone better and I bet they would have a list of ideas.  They would likely identify a need for their legal counsel to have communicated more frequently with them and to have helped more to educate them about their options at each step of the process.  They would likely say they worried that their legal counsel had a perverse incentive to provide more services (more hours of billable work) seemingly regardless of the effectiveness of those services because they billed by the hour and the client didn’t see or understand much of the work that the attorney was doing. Many professions, including law and medicine, are rethinking the most basic aspects of the services they provide and how they provide them and are defining new ways of doing things. I was reminded of this when reading an article in the New York Times titled When Medicine is Futile, which addressed the issue of whether medical providers are sometimes (or even as a matter of standard office policy) over-treating patients during end-of-life medical care. The article brought up the issue of whether medical providers—in the name of patient protection and patient care—may actually be working against the patient’s best interests (even affirmatively harming patients) by administering an inappropriately excessive—and futile—list of medical interventions. The article references a new report by the Institute of Medicine titled Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life (2014).  Some of the recommendations for improved care include increased provider-patient communication, education of medical providers in alternatives such as palliative care, increased patient planning and decision making, and different payment structures that may better align with patient care quality more than just the quantity of the services provided.  The gist of the recommendations to improve patient care relate mostly to increased communication, increased education of providers and patients about alternative options, and creating systemic incentives to reward quality patient care over simply providing a high quantity of billable services. Similar to a hospital emergency room, courtrooms offer intensive and expensive services.  In the court system, attorneys rack up immense billable hours based on providing clients with a large quantity of paperwork to submit to the court.  In the courtroom, attorney-client communication, client education about their options for resolution and client power to make their own decisions can be lacking. The legal system, like the medical system, is going through a paradigm shift where legal service providers are rethinking even the most basic aspects of the services they provide and how they provide them and are finding new ways of doing things. Collaborative Practice providers implement best practices similar to those recommended for the medical profession referenced in the report mentioned above, only in the area of legal representation instead of medical care.  In the Collaborative process, there is an increased focus on the quality, rather than just the quantity, of legal services.  This change in focus is inherent in the agreement of the clients and attorneys that they will not go to court to resolve their conflict as part of the Collaborative process.  In the Collaborative model, clients meet with a team of professionals to share information, learn about alternatives that might not have been considered, and evaluate their options in an open discussion.  This provides clients with increased knowledge about their options, increased communication with professionals, and true decision-making authority.
172708699A friend of mine who knows I am intricately woven into the divorce-planning and alternative dispute resolution circles in the Minneapolis St. Paul metro recently asked me if I knew a certain divorce attorney.  He knew of a person who was not feeling too well about their choice of a divorce attorney.  I told my friend that I did not recognize the name. Being a little curious, I searched the web for this individual. What I found was that family law was one of about eight other areas of law this person practiced.  I wondered just how much family law this attorney does in relationship to all the other practice areas listed.  Little does my friend know, his question inspired my writing this blog post. Would you go to a painter if you needed a new roof?  Would you go to a heart surgeon for a fractured arm?  Hardly, you say. Why is it then when people have decided to end their marriage they first choose to see someone who is not a subject matter expert in the areas causing conflict between them and their spouse?  They want this person to fix all their problems when that person probably does not have all the skill sets to solve all of the issues that present themselves in a divorce.  I would submit that there is no one person who has all the skill sets necessary to effectively deal with all the intricacies of a divorce. Perhaps the conflict is about co-parenting the couple’s children.  Would it make sense to seek out a neutral child specialist to help the parents sort out the rough spots and more importantly benefit their children for years and really for their lifetime?  Maybe the conflict is over financial matters.  You would think a neutral financial specialist would be able to offer the most value to the couple in those situations.  A couple not able to communicate effectively may benefit the most by seeing a neutral divorce relationship coach who can help both spouses manage their emotions which in turn frees up the flexible thinking they will need as they work through getting unmarried.  If legal questions arise, you would think an attorney who primarily works in family law matters would be the best resource. What I have described above is the client centered team model approach to a collaborative divorce.  A team of professional experts in their own subject matter areas working for you and your family’s behalf.   If you would like to learn more about this respectful and dignified way to divorce without court click on www.collaborativelaw.org to check it out.
82830939In Part I we learned that “rights-based” advocacy in the Court Model is hard on the problem but also hard on the people. Advocacy in the “interest-based” Collaborative Model is also hard on the problem, but SOFT on the people. How is this possible? In the Collaborative Model, the parties voluntarily agree to reach a settlement outside of court. Thus the 3rd party decision-maker, e.g., the judge, is removed from the collaborative process. Instead, the decision-maker is the parties themselves!

Circle Diagram for Collab Model 082814

In order to reach a settlement, the parties must consider and honor the other party’s perspective. In the Collaborative Model, advocacy is not about the position a client takes on a particular issue, but about meeting the future needs, interests, and goals that are defined by the couple themselves. By framing the problem in terms of needs, interests and goals, parties are likely to see their dispute as a mutual problem that they must work together to solve. They now answer the question: how do we both get our needs and interests met? How does our family get its needs and interests met? Advocacy in the Collaborative Model encourages parties to look behind their opposed positions to determine the motivating interests. In doing so, the parties often find alternative solutions that meet the needs of both sides. Collaborative advocacy pays attention to balance, listening and being creative. Collaborative advocacy creates an incentive to work together, acknowledge the other, to be authentic and realistic. This kind of collaboration can occur only in an atmosphere that is respectful, transparent, and mutual; and one that incentivizes caring about the other party’s point of view with the removal of the 3rd party decision-maker. While being hard on the problem and soft on the people seems to be a contradiction, it is this contradiction that promotes better settlements and preserves needed relationships. Who knew that removing the 3rd party decision-maker could make such a difference! In Part III, I will explore how the power of neutrality is the secret sauce to a successful collaborative divorce.