We believe families don’t belong in court.
If you or someone you care about is considering separation or divorce there is a better way. Click here for a brief video.
Call or book online today to schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation to find out if the Collaborative Divorce Process is right for you.
The Collaborative Divorce Coach works as a team member with other Collaborative Professionals to provide an out of court process for the resolution of family conflicts. This process offers Respect, Privacy and Control in resolving family conflicts.
We offer divorcing couples two options for out of court divorce: Collaborative Divorce or Collaborative Mediation.
For a comparison chart of your Divorce options click here: Divorce Process Options
Collaborative Divorce or Collaborative Law is a legal process enabling divorcing couples to work with a team of collaboratively trained professionals to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific interests and needs of both spouses and their children without the underlying threat of litigation. The Professional Team includes an attorney for each client, a neutral coach and a neutral financial professional.
The parties promise to be open and honest regarding all issues in their divorce, including their finances and matters that affect custody. The Collaborative Coach guides the team towards resolution, recognizing potential emotional and communication pitfalls that could derail the negotiations. The Financial Professional helps the parties to compile and understand financial issues, and prepare schedules for equitable distribution, alimony, and child support. The Collaborative Attorneys offer legal support. The goal of collaborative practitioners is to support spouses in the restructuring of their family in a way that meets the parties’ and children’s best interests.
What is Collaborative Mediation? Collaborative Mediation is a hybrid of the two most efficient methods of divorce currently available – Collaborative Law and Mediation. Collaborative Mediation offers families one streamlined process that can be more satisfying than either process alone. The parties agree at the beginning that they will work toward resolution in a transparent and respectful manner with the help of their Collaborative Professionals.
Why is Collaborative Mediation the Right Choice? Divorce can be costly – this is a sad reality. With Collaborative Mediation, you and your spouse can maintain control over the cost, ultimately saving your money for retirement or college funds. While saving money, you also gain the wisdom and expertise of the neutral Collaborative Professionals who co-mediate the issues of your divorce, while having the opportunity to consult with Collaborative Attorneys as needed. This makes for an efficient process.
Collaborative mediation combines the best aspects of mediation and Collaborative Divorce in a process that meets the needs of the divorcing family while minimizing costs. In collaborative mediation, you and your spouse, work with collaboratively trained co-mediators to work through all of the issues of the divorce including legal, financial, emotional and parenting to reach an out-of-court agreement.
Co-mediators can be a neutral Collaborative Coach and either a neutral Collaborative Attorney or a neutral Collaborative Financial Professional. The unique co-mediator team helps spouses gather relevant information, develop options for property division and shared parenting if they have children, and negotiate agreements acceptable to both of them. Instead of requiring all other professionals to attend the settlement meetings at the same time like often happens in collaborative law, the other professionals selectively participate in the mediation sessions when and if the spouses and the mediators feel it would be This reduces costs while keeping their expertise readily available.
In a Collaborative Mediation, the parties chose to enter into an Agreement to use Collaborative principles to settle the issues arising from the dissolution of their relationship. The Parties, Collaborative Lawyers, Mediator, and other Collaborative Professionals design how they will work together to support, guide and assist the clients to reach an Agreement acceptable to both parties.
The Mediators prepare a Memorandum of Understanding if the parties reach agreement on all or some of the issues and share it with the parties and their Collaborative attorneys. The Collaborative Attorneys prepare the final legal documents based on the Memorandum of Understanding.
In Collaborative Mediation the parties and professionals sign a written “participation
agreement” in which they pledge to use the Collaborative principles to:
- settle the outstanding issues in a non-adversarial manner.
- uphold a high standard of integrity, not take advantage of mistakes and negotiate in good faith
- minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of protracted litigation.
- cooperate and build trust among all of the individuals involved.
- fully and honestly disclose all property and debts and all documents such as financial statements, income tax records, and all other relevant information and writings requested by the other Party that may be relevant to the Mediation discussions.
- effectively and respectively communicate with each other and not make accusations or claims not based in fact.
- efficiently and economically settle the dissolution of their relationship.
- resist going to court
Collaborative mediation combines the best and most successful strategies of Collaborative Divorce with the cost effectiveness of mediation with outstanding success.
Benefits of Collaborative mediation includes:
- Positive future family relationships
- Reducing conflict between parents to ensure children’s well-being
- Respectful and constructive communications and negotiations
- Preserving spouses’ financial and emotional health
- A smaller team approach
- Neutral mediators to facilitate parties’ negotiations
- Parties’ ability to decide how much or little to involve divorce lawyers
- Control over cost
- Efficiency and expediency
The roles of the professionals in the Collaborative Mediation Process:
- The primary role of each Co-Mediator is to work with the parties to assist them in coming to agreement on the various issues involved in their case by facilitating dialogue, assisting the parties in identifying issues between them, working to reduce obstacles to communication, maximizing the exploration of alternatives, and clarifying points of agreement.
- The primary role of the Collaborative Lawyers is to advise the parties and prepare any needed legal documents. The Lawyers work as part of the Collaborative Team to assist the Parties in coming to agreements.
- The Parties may meet with the Mediators with or without their Collaborative Lawyers present, as they and the team decide.
- Other Collaborative Professionals may be jointly hired by the parties by agreement to assist with financial analysis, asset appraisal, child issues, or other matters requiring specialized expertise, so that the parties can ensure they are fully informed.
Collaborative Mediation is customizable so that you can receive the level of support that you need. It is a process that will allow you to as quickly as possible put your divorce in the rearview mirror.
For divorcing couples who want a private, out of court resolution, the Collaborative Professional Team helps you efficiently address your legal, financial, emotional and parenting needs and interests. See your Divorce Options here.
Listen to Episode 6 of the Donuts & Divorce podcast: The F Word Of Divorce – Forgiveness where Lori Gephart joins host Dorothy O’Neil. Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3dtFjrQ
Watch an IACP presentation of Divorce During COVID-19 & How Collaborative Practice Can Help Your Clients with Ross Evans, Past IACP President, and Lori Gephart, IACP Board Member. Please feel free to share it on social media or with your networks.
Watch an IACP presentation of Mental Health Professionals & Collaborative Divorce with Lori Gephart and Julia McAninch, IACP Board Members. Please feel free to share it on social media or with your networks.
Listen to a program on WORD FM about What is Collaborative Divorce?
How does Collaborative Divorce work?
Listen to a Pennsylvania Psychological Association Ethics and Psychology podcast about the Collaborative Coach with Lori Gephart interviewed by John Gavazzi.
The Collaborative Divorce Process is a way for you to resolve disputes respectfully — without letting a judge decide the fate of your family — while working with collaboratively trained professionals who work to support you and your family through the legal, financial, emotional, and parenting issues.
The heart of Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Divorce Process (also called “no-court divorce,” “divorce with dignity,” “peaceful divorce”) is to offer you and your spouse or partner the support, protection, and guidance of your own collaboratively trained attorneys without going to court. Additionally, Collaborative Divorce allows you the benefit of child and financial specialists, divorce coaches and other professionals all working together to help you to identify and meet your goals.
The Collaborative Divorce process helps you and your spouse to thoughtfully address important issues such as:
Negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having courts decide issues.
Maintain open communication and information sharing.
Create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all.
Not your parents’ divorce. Collaborative divorce is a peaceful approach to support your family, your children and you through the financial legal and emotional transition to a healthy, separated family.
Will it work for me?
Divorce is a sensitive personal matter. No single approach is right for everyone. Many couples do find the no-court process known as Collaborative Practice (Collaborative Law/Collaborative Divorce) a welcome alternative to the often destructive, uncomfortable aspects of conventional divorce.
For divorcing couples who want a private, out of court resolution, the collaborative team efficiently addresses your legal, financial, emotional and parenting needs and interests.
If these values are important to you, the Collaborative Divorce Process is likely to be a good option for you:
I believe that families don’t belong in court.
I want to maintain the tone of respect, even when we disagree.
I want to prioritize the needs of our children.
My needs and those of my spouse require equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.
I believe that working creatively and cooperatively solves issues.
It is important to reach beyond today’s frustration and pain to plan for the future.
I can behave ethically toward my spouse.
I choose to maintain control of the divorce process with my spouse, and not relegate it to the courts.
Does this path sound and feel more comfortable for you than litigation?
THE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE COACH
The Collaborative Divorce Coach is a skilled practitioner, with training in the interdisciplinary collaborative practice model, whose role it is to facilitate effective communication and interactions working with families. The collaborative coach is knowledgeable about the specific dynamics and issues related to divorce. In this role, coaches are not acting as therapists, but are using their training and skills to help the clients work through their emotions about the ending of the marriage and focus on identifying long-term needs and interests for themselves, for each other, for their children and for other family members. Coaches help the clients prepare to participate meaningfully in the collaborative process.
In the “Collaborative Divorce” model, there is a neutral coach who works with the parties together. The coaching goal is to prepare and help the parties to work effectively with each other in the collaborative process. If children are involved, the coaching also focuses on helping the clients develop a more effective long-term parenting relationship.
A coach is not and cannot be the individual therapist for either client, even after the settlement agreement is signed. There may be a need in the future for modifications to the agreement or help with the clients’ ongoing relationships with each other or with the children.
The Coach as a Member of the Collaborative Team:
The coach helps the client (individually) and/or the clients (together) identify and discuss feelings and issues about the separation/divorce, think through emotionally charged issues, and manage anger and distress. The coach teaches communication skills for the clients to use in the divorce negotiations and in their ongoing relationship – as co-parents or otherwise. The coach provides parenting education so that the impact of divorce on the children is minimized.
The coach works with the two attorneys and other collaborative professionals so that they understand how best to approach and respond to each client, to identify sensitive and “hot button” issues, and is available to help if an emotional crisis arises that interferes with reaching a comprehensive settlement. Referring clients to a coach or coaches to deal with the relationship and emotional issues is a prudent and cost-effective use of resources. Clients often have emotional issues to address before they can sit together and plan a restructuring of their family, assets and finances.
Adding coaching for separating/divorcing spouses gives the clients the professionals best suited to addressing specific needs. Mental health professionals and attorneys each have specialized abilities for supporting and encouraging a truly lasting agreement between the clients to meet the needs and interests of their restructured family, long-term.
If you are interested in the Collaborative Process of Divorce Resolution, let our professional peacemakers help. We are dedicated to working with integrity and respect to foster healthy communication and resolutions for families in the Pittsburgh area.
Please note that these services are not covered by insurance.
Loretta “Lori” Gephart, M.A., Licensed Psychologist, is a Collaborative Divorce Coach and a member of the Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania, where she is the past president and a trainer for Collaborative Basic Training. She is also a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals where she serves on the Board as President and past Secretary. Lori is committed to assisting individuals and families in working through their differences without going to court. This includes divorcing couples and parents, but also can apply to heirs, businesses and others in conflict. Lori is ready to work with your family to help you reach an agreement for a healthier divorce. Appointments are available in our Wexford and Robinson Township offices.
THE CHILD SPECIALIST
The Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with a background in working with children and families who is trained in the Collaborative Process and who serves on the Collaborative team as a neutral representative of the child/children’s needs and interests in the separation/divorce process of the parents. The Child Specialist will work with the child(ren) and the parents to:
1) Provide the child(ren) with an opportunity to voice his/her concerns regarding the divorce.
2) Provide parents with information and guidance to help their child(ren) through this process.
3) Give information to the parties and the collaborative team that will help the parties in developing an effective co-parenting plan for their child(ren).
The Child Specialist provides insight into how the child(ren) is coping with the divorce and offers options for the time-share and other logistics in their best interest. The Child Specialist can act as a spokesperson for younger children or help older children articulate their feelings/wishes directly to their parents, coaches, and/or attorneys.
View a 30 second video regarding Collaborative Solutions North below.
Professionals interested in Basic Training in Collaborative Practice click here.