As Shawn Weber, San Diego Collaborative attorney and mediator says, “Some people believe that a prerequisite for consensual dispute resolution options like Mediation or Collaborative Practice in divorce situations is that the parties have to get along or trust each other. That is simply not the case! A good mediator or Collaborative practitioner knows how to get to the heart of the issues even when there is significant conflict.”

Shawn goes on to say, “Consensual dispute resolution (CDR) professionals understand that our services are needed when there is a dispute to resolve. Conflict is an inherent part of dispute resolution. CDR professionals are not afraid of conflict and havetraining to get to the heart of what is keeping you from settling. I call these “fault lines”. A significant part of my work with couples is taking time to really listen and understand where the fault lines are and what is causing them. That way I can help. So, I take time. I listen – carefully. I try to help bridge the gaps. It’s often quite emotional. It’s only rarely easy.”

Listening for what matters for each person and helping divorcing couples have the needed conversations to get to agreements on dividing assets and debts, sharing the parenting responsibilities, and support arrangements is the primary focus of Collaborative attorneys, coaches, child specialists, and financial professionals. Each professional has expertise in their respective field to provide education and guidance on the law, ways to engage with your spouse in a productive manner, research on best parenting practices for healthy children when their parents divorce, and your particular family’s financial facts and related divorce tax law. With this knowledge and the willingness to listen, spouses can make durable agreements that match their own individual family’s needs.

Judith F. Sterling is a CPA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and Collaborative Financial Specialist practicing in Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma Counties.

photo credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.