Monica and Ruth sit down to explain how attorneys within the Collaborative Process are colleagues instead of adversaries.
MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: Hi, I’m Monica Donaldson Stewart and I’m a family law attorney practicing at Donaldson Stewart, P.C. in Chandler, Arizona.
RUTH LUSBY: I’m Ruth Lusby. I’m a collaborative attorney and mediator and I’m the owner of Ruth Atkinson Lusby, P.A. in Scottsdale, Arizona.
MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: So Ruth, you and I have actually worked on a case together, on a collaborative case.
RUTH LUSBY: We have.
MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: I thought it was a great experience. I think that our clients were very happy with the outcome of that collaboration.
RUTH LUSBY: I agree. I think it was a very successful process. And what was interesting about that was not only how well the clients were able to get along, but the collaborative professionals and how we were able to work together as colleague and not as adversaries, which is one of the things I like best about the collaborative process in general.
In a traditional case, you think of it in terms – almost in war terms. You’re adversaries, you’re opposing parties, you’re opposing counsel. There are custody battles and they fight over the property.
You don’t hear any of that in the collaborative process.
MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: No, we don’t use any of that language. We don’t talk about rights and entitlements. We talk about outcomes and objectives. And I think that by reframing the language, it actually helps our clients to take them out of the idea that their divorce has to be a battle and help them to understand that it’s something that we’re doing collaboratively.
RUTH LUSBY: That’s right. And when there are children, the focus really is on the transition from the family of mom, dad, and kids into what I that family going to look like. They don’t stop being a family just because they’ve gotten a divorce. Mom and dad are still going to be mom and dad. The things they do with their children are going to be the normal things that parents who are in an intact family are doing, but now they’re just transitioning to a different family situation.
And what is that going to look like and how can we as professionals help them find what’s going to be best for them and the family going forward. What’s it going to look like five years from now, 10 years from now?
MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: Right. And I think the language that we use during the course of their case helps to set that tone.
RUTH LUSBY: I agree, I agree. We talk to them about their financial interests and their needs. We talk to them about what the family is going to look like. We talk to them about what’s important to them, what are their long-term goals as well as their short-term goals so that they’re focusing as they negotiate their settlement on: Are they meeting the goals? When they reach an agreement on a particular piece of their agreement, does that meet their needs? Does that meet their long-term interests?
And I think when we look at it in those terms, you will have a completely different outcome.