Communication Guidelines for the Collaborative Process

  • Avoid the problem and concerns at hand. Do not attack each other.
  • Avoid positions. Instead, express yourself in terms of needs or interests and the outcomes you would like to realize.
  • Work for what you believe is the most constructive and acceptable agreement for both you and your family.
  • During the team meetings (professionals and both clients will be present) remember the following:
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Use each other’s first name and avoid “he” and “she”.
      • Do not interrupt when the other client or his or her lawyer is speaking. You, also, will have a full and equal opportunity to speak on every issue presented for discussion.
      • Do not use language that blames or finds fault with the other client. Use non-inflammatory or neutral words.
      • Avoid using the terms “fair” and “unfair.” Instead, use words like “acceptable,” “workable,” “agreeable,” and their converses, “unacceptable,” “unworkable,” “not agreeable.”
      • Speak for yourself. Make “I” statements, not “you” statements.
        • State what you observe. (i.e. “I noticed that twice his month times when you were scheduled for the children to be with you and it did not happen.”)
        • State how you feel about what you observe. (i.e. “I feel worried and unhappy about this.”)
        • State what you think about what you observe. (i.e.”I think it is bad for the children to have scheduled time with you that does not happen.”)
        • State what you would like to do about what you observe. (i.e. ”I want you to propose a schedule that could be put into place for visits that would not result in the children being disappointed in that way.”
      • Practice active listening.
        • Listen fully while the other person speaks;avoid planning your reply until the speaker has finished.
        • Try to understand what the other person is saying without being judgmental about the person or themessage.
        • Ask for more information on any points that are not completely clear to you.
        • Check out how accurately you understand that the speaker said by restating you understandin in different words.
        • Keep doing these steps until the speaker agrees that you have fully understood what was said.
        • Remember, you can say “I understand” without meaning “I agree.”
      • If you have a complaint, raise your concern and follow up with a constructive suggestion as to how it might be resolved.
      • If something is not working for you, speak up so it can be addressed.
      • Talk with your lawyer about anything you do not understand.  Your lawyer can clarify issues for you.
  • Be willing to commit the time required to meet regularly. Be prepared for each meeting.
  • Be patient – delays in the process can happen notwithstanding that everyone is acting in good faith.

Questions about Collaborative Divorce?

Melissa Fecak, Esq. is experienced in collaborative divorce and can answer your questions. Contact the office to schedule a consultation.