How do we really know when a couple is suited for the collaborative process or mediation?
I recently explored this topic at a Practice Organizational Development Group meeting for collaborative divorce professionals.
Much of the discussion focused on how to screen potential clients because Alternative Dispute Resolution is not right for everyone and every situation. Even discerning a client’s true intentions can be difficult because they are well-rehearsed, and in collaborative, they tell each professional what they think the professional wants to hear, not what they need to know.
Also harmful to the process is the tendency for people to tell their attorneys one thing, their financial neutral something else, and their coaches something completely different. If the team does not have regular “bridge calls” or conference calls, along with good written and verbal communications, discerning the big picture is almost impossible.
The other professionals and I also had a conversation about allotting the necessary time to get to know one’s clients. Whereas, in litigation, the court system doesn't really get to know the clients, collaborative and mediation can work only when the whole team gets to know their clients.
Unfortunately, many clients don’t necessarily want to take the time to get to know the team. They're going through a bad divorce, probably one spouse wants it but the other doesn’t, and they just want to get it over and finished.
Each professional is able to tolerate his or her own amount of destructive behavior between a soon-to-be-divorced couple. Screening clients properly is the most important way to avoid being mismatched with a client that drains your enthusiasm for this important job.