The various methods to resolve issues involving family matters, this relatively new process is the one which takes all aspects of the issues into consideration: financial and emotional as well as legal.
The interdisciplinary model includes an attorney for each party, a neutral mental health professional who assists with the parties emotional responses to the issues and who also works with the parties to prepare parenting plans, and the neutral financial expert who assists with determining financial options.The goal is to enable the parties to obtain a friendly divorce – a divorce which enables the parties to continue to have a positive cooperative relationship subsequent to their divorce, particularly if the parties have children who will remain in their lives and who so many activities, achievements and life cycle events will continue to bring them together over years and decades.
Ms. Bass has been involved in the local practice group as a Board member and President of the Collaborative Family Law Professionals of South Florida since its inception in 2000 through Jan 1st 2013. She has also been a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals for many years, most recently attending their 2012 annual meeting in Chicago.
The collaborative process began in 1990 when Stu Webb, a Minneapolis, Minnesota litigation attorney decided, after years of litigating, that family issues were just not suited to the litigation approach – that it caused too much harm to his clients, even when he was “successful” in terms of court results. He determined that the fallout frm the process of litigation was just too traumatic/devasting. Instead, he decided to try to settle his cases, right from the start; if the attorney representing the other spouse was not open to settlement, Attorney Webb would not pursue the case; he would suggest his client hire another attorney, one who would litigate.
That is the basis of the collaborative process – the attorneys and parties agree from the inception that they will work to settle the case, and if they, for whatever reason, cannot do so, they will withdraw so the clients can pursue other means to their divorce. By having this rule, the attorneys have very clearly defined roles – they and their clients are problem-solvers working with the mental health professionals and financial experts toward a common goal: resolution of conflict in a respectful non-adversarial approach.
Ms. Bass strongly advocates this method and suggests that it is one that will enable parents to maintain a good relationship with each other and their children into the future.