Collaborative Law Changes Divorce in the Fargo Moorhead Area

Tracy LysonO’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss is excited to announce that Tracy Lyson is now trained to practice Collaborative Law.  Tracy is known for always putting the best interest of her clients and their family members first, and that is why she and collaborative practice make the perfect fit. She, as well as collaborative law, strives to find solutions and compromise for both parties that are going through a divorce or domestic dispute.

What is Collaborative Law?

So you may be wondering what collaborative law is exactly. Well the basic vision of Collaborative Law is transforming the usual family dispute resolution into a healing process through Collaborative Practice. The key to collaborative practice is that both parties and their attorney sign a contract where they agree not to litigate their disputes in court.  Instead, they work together, collaboratively, toward a resolution.

The Process

Simply put, the process has three stages.

  • First Stage – This includes the first contact with the client through the first collaborative meeting.
  • Second Stage – This includes the meetings between clients and appropriate team professionals to reach the resolutions.
  • Third Stage – The team will draft and sign legal documents.

Tracy had this to say about the process. “We don’t look at it is necessarily as a division of the family, but rather a reorganization,” says Tracy. “It involves a team approach, with professional help as needed by the family. Not only will the attorneys provide professional support, but the team may also include a neutral coach, a child specialist, and/or a financial specialist.”

Here are the following team members, and their roles explained through the collaborative process.

The Child Specialist

If the family has children, a child specialist may be brought onto the team to provide support for the kids going through the divorce process. They provide a safe place for kids to share their feelings and discuss their worries and concerns about what the divorce means.

For parents, the child specialists can help provide education on child development when separation and divorce are present. Not only that, but they can help parents understand what their children are experiencing and how to handle the issues. Parents often need help communicating with one another, and the child specialist can help create a workable parenting plan that meets the needs and interests of the child.

The Financial Specialist

Finances and money are often the most fought over details of a divorce. For families that must support their children, it also throws questions like “how do we handle college savings” and “who pays for which activities”.

Further, the Financial Specialist will help families organize the identification and gathering of necessary financial documents, provide compilations and projections to assist in client education and assist clients and lawyers in generating options and understanding the current and future financial impact of each option.

This can be especially important for couples that have historically had one partner managing the finances by themselves.

The Coach

For some families, it is important to bring a coach onto the team. A coach will be able to help manage the communication between the clients and the professionals involved with the process.

The coach is a licensed mental health facilitator who can provide neutral guidance and teaches effective problem solving skills. They also help identify clients’ emotional readiness and helps the team understand the appropriate pacing for the process.

In order to establish boundaries and expectations for co-parenting, they also help couples create a written Relationship Plan.

Not only that, but they will help support interest-based and principled negotiations and maintain a collaborative atmosphere. If there is tension, a coach may not be a bad idea.

The Attorney

An attorney during the Collaborative Law process helps educate and counsel the client through the process. They assist the family members in identifying and articulating the interest and goals, manage conflict, guide interest-based and principled negotiation, draft legal documents and assist the parties in implementing agreements.

The shift from a debate to a dialogue is really about what is best for the reorganized family and reduces the risk, uncertainty and added tension that comes with litigation. “I think that collaborative law has the potential to change the way divorce and custody is handled in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” says Tracy.

For those interested in the Collaborative Law approach, contact Tracy and her team.