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The Keys to Collaborative Divorce

In this video, Monica and Ruth discuss the keys to Collaborative Divorce.

MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: Hi, I’m Monica Donaldson Stewart and I’m a family law attorney at Donaldson Stewart, P.C. in Chandler, Arizona.

RUTH LUSBY: And I’m Ruth Lusby. I’m a collaborative attorney and mediator in Scottsdale, Arizona and I’m the owner of Ruth-Atkinson Lusby, P.A.

So Monica, today I thought we might talk about: What are the keys to the collaborative-divorce process? We hear a lot of words that we throw out as collaborative such “cooperative,” “respectful,” “transparent.” And certainly, the collaborative-divorce process is all of these things, but for me the keystone for the entire collaborative process is self-determination. It’s the clients deciding for themselves what is the outcome going to be.

MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: And I think that’s a good point, because in a conventional divorce clients are looking entirely to their attorneys to help point them in the direction that they think that they want to go. The attorney is having to interpret so much about what it is that the client’s objective is going to be. And in a collaborative divorce, the clients have the opportunity to tell us what it is that’s a priority to them, and we’re just tour guides to help get them there.

RUTH LUSBY: I agree. And I find in traditional divorces it’s not so much of the clients trying to give information to attorneys to guide them, it’s attorneys really taking control of the process and telling the clients, “This is the way it’s going to be.” And if the case goes to court, then ultimately, the judge is going to decide and tell the clients, “This is the way it’s going to be.” And the clients have no control whatsoever.

The collaborative process, the clients have complete control. Clients are the best experts on what’s important to them, to their families, for their own future. And I think understanding that it’s not only a respectful process in terms of showing respect for each other as we go through the collaborative negotiations, but for the professionals to show that we respect the clients and that they are able to decide what’s important to them. So it’s not us directing the process. It’s really the clients directing the process.