Cathy Daigle appeared on Suzy Miller’s Divorce TV video podcast March 31st, 2022 to talk about Collaborative Divorce.
Suzy Miller 0:04
Welcome to our now monthly Thursday night, divorce TV show live stream as of last Thursday of the month. And this is where we make peace, our weapon of choice. My guests today are Kathy Daigle, CFP CDFA. From California, she’s a Certified Financial Planner and financial consultants for divorce in the States. We’ll be talking about her big passion, which is collaborative law. Kathy is calling from coming from California. She’s reaching agreements with a family by the family using the collaborative practice. It’s a respectful, no court way to resolve disputes. And I know you’ve know, if you’ve watched this show before, it’s something that I talk about a lot. Hello, Kathy, and welcome. Can you hear me okay? Yeah.
Cathy Daigle 0:59
Yeah, thank you for having me.
Suzy Miller 1:01
Right. And so we’re gonna we’re going to be talking about a collaborative law. And just as a sort of reminder, to people who perhaps not familiar with it, it is. Our the way I describe it is, you’ve got two people usually getting divorced. And obviously, with extended families that can be more than two people sometimes. And they’re dealing either with the children or the finances, sometimes both. And they sit around a table with their specially trained collaborative lawyers, who aren’t like just normal lawyers, they’ve got extra strain training to do this. And they are taught instead of sending lots of expensive letters backwards and forwards, and essentially that that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
Cathy Daigle 1:43
It really does.
Suzy Miller 1:47
The first thing? Yes, no, it’s a beautiful price. And we’re going to cover a few things with with it. But the first thing I wanted to talk to you about was one of the things that always amazed me is how hardly anyone’s heard of it. It some lawyers have haven’t even heard of it. So it’s been around for over 10 years in the UK and started in the US and it’s international. What do you think are the main reasons that collaborative law isn’t just like a household name? Everybody knows about it as a clearly a good way to get doors.
Cathy Daigle 2:21
Excellent question. We have practitioners often asked us that question ourselves regularly, public and professional education continue to be required in order to get the word out more. And lawyer resistance has been a common topic of conversation among collaborative practitioners and professional trainers. How do we get the word out more, and so that we can utilize this process to help the families stay out of court and add values to their settlement negotiations. I’d like to say that collaborative divorce is not new. It’s simply not well known. It’s the most recent development in dispute resolution models. Since mediation was introduced in the 1970s. Collaborative divorce. As you mentioned, Suzy offers the support of a team, and then allows space to explore creative settlements, it is a no court process, but focus on the family, rather than taking positions and fighting about who might keep the house. It’s a problem solving approach. sitting around the table, like you mentioned, Susie, it’s a novel idea that you could imagine and visualize a problem solving approach with the support of a team. The team is used to help ensure that interests and cares are fully understood and clarified during negotiations. And I’d like to say that the interdisciplinary team is made up of legal, mental health and financial professionals. It’s a really an efficient and effective way of managing the process, because it helps to align the right professional with the right task at the right time. And so it’s an approach that allows the family to really co create their agreement for themselves. You know, this resistance by the lawyers, we’re really hoping more and more education and understanding can help reduce the fear and resistance around it by historically, lawyers have been the point of entry for divorcing couples. And but that is changing mental health and financial professional doors of entries are becoming more and more common. And couples tell us that they want to know more and get started before talking to a lawyer. So although some lawyers may resist offering collaborative divorce as an option, more and more couples are asking about it.
Suzy Miller 4:58
And one of the things that I’m And, yeah, I’m slightly less optimistic than you are. Because I’ve had people tell me that Oh, my law is very collaborative. And this has been in the UK and I said, are they collaboratively trained? No, they weren’t. They just, they were talking about roundtable discussions, which is not the same thing. It may seem the same to the client. But those professionals have not had specific training, it would be really interesting to know a little bit about what is it about the training for collaborative law that helps take a regular lawyer with a specific way of dealing with family law and kind of turn their head around and put them in a place where they can genuinely be collaborative, what, what kind of things do they learn and do that will be really interesting to know.
Cathy Daigle 5:48
That is a key piece for the lawyers. It’s an experiential process, the collaborative divorce training, and collaborative law trainings, very experiential. There’s a lot of theory and negotiations, but we’re going to be focusing on interest based negotiations and not positional, that there in itself can be a shift for many lawyers to let go and really develop curiosity around the interests, what matters most and why that right there is a shift. And furthermore, one of the fundamental foundational pieces of collaborative divorce and collaborative law is the disqualification statement. It’s kind of a DQ clause, if you will, where all the professionals and the clients sign at the beginning of the case that we have scouts on it, nobody’s going to court, and we’re willing to sign and witness be more accountable for that. So that’s a paradigm shift, if you will. And furthermore, the language we use this language that shifts we no longer talk about custody of children. It’s co parenting in timeshare. So we are optimistic through change, training, visualization, experiential, and success. And it’s that time and those times when we have the success with the family, the richness counts, and it’s a richness for the professional, him or herself as well as the family.
Suzy Miller 7:20
And I think that really is I hope anyone listening to this considering Collaborative Law, we’ll, we’ll hear what I’m hearing, which is that that training is absolutely key. It’s not just a tick box to say they can practice Collaborative Law, it is a vital for them to be able to do it properly, because it’s a really skilled job. And it’s not something that even the best Rottweiler lawyer would be able to necessarily do if they wouldn’t want to do it unless they at least had the training. Do you find it’s a bit of a problem with old leopards not changing their spots? Or do you feel that there are combative court based lawyers who can put on the collaborative hat and suddenly turned into this completely different being?
Cathy Daigle 8:05
Interesting, I like that analogy. And there are some difficult mindsets that aren’t as open and willing to make shifts and see the possibilities and be curious to understand why. What can be the benefit to this family, to me, to the process, and to the community in the greater law society as a whole. This is big, this is global, but it’s not for everybody get right. And it does take some hard litigators. But then we ask if it’s not for everybody, would they be better off in court? Oftentimes not. So how do we develop the transparency, the hard work, the professional skills to help these families through and restructure in a way that works for their family so that they could create two different households together? Yeah, but it’s not for everybody and most old dogs. There’s some new tricks, but not all the old dog.
Suzy Miller 9:08
And when we say not for everyone, we’re actually talking about the lawyers being collaborative lawyers, not people going through divorce, because I don’t think when people say that all mediations wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. My answer is yes, it is. It’s just that not everyone’s able to access it in a in a way that works for them because there’s a big difference to my mind. But just to briefly finish off with what led you into being so passionate about practicing Collaborative Law. What what started it off, got a couple of two minutes. Well, it all started
Cathy Daigle 9:39
back in the early 90s. Actually, as a certified financial planner, I often found clients than women coming into my office and not understanding what they had just received in a settlement or what they might be getting during a settlement. So I found and became passionate about helping couples have during the divorce process so that they understood what they were getting. And that would empower them to make better decisions and more durable decisions. So I think taking care of the children putting the children first collaborative divorce does that. Taking a look at the finances understanding what the inventory is making sense of it all. So the clients can make decisions, and it’s rally for the family by the family. And I feel passionate every day. I’ve been doing this with my teammates for over 25 years. And I still take trainings, I am a professional training, teaching other colleagues about collaborative divorce and it’s the richness that keeps us going. And the thank you notes from the clients because it really does make a difference.
Suzy Miller 10:47
That’s lovely. Thank you, Kathy, and thank you so much for coming onto the show. Thank you very much to all my wonderful guests and in the war of divorce. On the battlefield of family separation has always made sure we use peace as our weapon of choice.