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“Divorce is a Positive Experience” (Part I)

openpalmDid my headline catch your eye? I have actually had a client describe his divorce in those exact words. Of course, it was a collaborative divorce; I’m certain that’s no surprise to anyone reading this blog. But the question you should ask is “how did you find out that he was describing his divorce in that way?”

I have spent a great deal of time working on bringing “collaborative divorce” into the marketplace. How many of us have enjoyed the enormous pleasure of greeting a prospective client for a consultation, only to have the client cut to the chase and say “I’m here because I want a collaborative divorce”?

I have. And I can tell you several reasons why. There are others but these are some of the biggies.

I published a book, directed at John Doe, that describes the perils of courtroom divorce and lauds the attributes of the collaborative process. (You can find the book on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1C6zGG9 or you can buy it in bulk on my website, at http://bit.ly/1DYw79U.) Not only do I gift the book to my divorce consults, but others in the collaborative community have purchased copies in bulk, so that they, too, can use it to explain the process options to their prospective clients.

I founded the Collaborative Divorce Pro Bono Project here in Tampa. One of the primary goals of the project is to require clients, in exchange for free collaborative services, to publish the positive characteristics of the process to the community, instead of keeping it quiet, as so many of our paying clients do, because they choose collaborative practice, in part, to protect their confidences. Thus, the Project’s clients not only tell their friends about their successful divorce process, but, when the media calls, they volunteer to explain how it worked for them.

And I teach Marketing Your Collaborative Practice to my fellow practitioners, lawyers, facilitators, and financial neutrals. The more of us who are savvy about marketing the concept, the more the wealth of such clients will grow.

There’s one more step that I’ve taken; I interview my clients after the last full-team meeting concludes and the paperwork is signed. I ask very specific questions that I’ve designed over the past few months to elicit very specific responses. My co-collaborative counsel (representing my clients’ spouses) pose the same questions to their clients that I’ve provided to them ahead of time. And we collect these comments and report them back to the team professionals.

Occasionally, there is constructive criticism, but it is far more common that we hear what works and why in our conference rooms.

Here are some of the questions I ask:

  • What was your biggest fear prior to consulting with us?
  • What was your biggest fear after deciding to try the CP?
  • What worked well for you in the CP?
  • Did anything scare you during the process?
  • What difference did using the process make in your child(ren)’s life/lives?
  • What did you like about the process?
  • What did you dislike about the process?
  • Did anything happen during your divorce process that made you feel great?
  • Did anything happen during your divorce process that made you feel awful?
  • Did you learn anything during the process?
  • Did anything surprise you during the process?
  • Do you have any critique of or compliment to the facilitator?
  • Do you have any critique of or compliment to the financial neutral?
  • Do you have any critique of or compliment to your lawyer(s)?
  • Do you have any critique of or compliment to your husband’s/wife’s lawyer(s)?
  • Do you have any critique of or compliment to the process?

I’d love to hear what other questions you think I ought to be asking. If you have any, please share them.

Next week, I’ll post some of the testimonials our clients have given us, including the one with which I began this blog, about the gentleman who said, in summing up his total endorsement of collaborative practice, “The entire process was a positive experience, something I did not expect from my divorce.”

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