I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 International Academy of Collaborative Professionals [IACP] Networking and Educational Forum held in Washington, DC, from October 16-18. It was my first Forum experience since joining the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey [CDANJ] in May, 2014 and it was more than worth my time.
Upon arriving in Washington DC, the first session I attended was a Meet & Greet with Stuart Webb, the founder of Collaborative Divorce. To say that I felt out of my element and a little intimidated was an understatement. After speaking with Mr. Webb and the other speakers for the session, I instantly felt comfortable. the session included singing a song, meditating and interacting with others. I connected with people on a level I probably never would have otherwise. That Meet & Greet session jump-started my Forum weekend and got me energized to learn more about the process and meet more colleagues.
For my first Forum, as a new financial collaborative professional, the majority of the sessions I attended focused on the financial aspect of collaborative practice. My goal was to learn the most I could, in the financial area of the process, to better my skills and to spread the knowledge to other members of the CDANJ.
The weekend was so motivating, watching attorneys, financial and mental health professionals, from all over the world, come together to teach and better collaborative practice. The sessions were mentally stimulating and the speakers were inspiring.
I look forward to attending IACP Forums in the future and will focus on attending more sessions that are outside my comfort zone; I believe that they will greatly contribute to my being a more well-rounded professional.
The next IACP Forum will be held in Lake Las Vegas, NV, from October 17-30, 2016.
Megan Sartor, CPA/ABV/CFF/SAX BST/LLP
Collaborative colleagues celebrate the latest achievement of Paul Kreisinger. On July 24, 2015, at the Mekong Delta Restaurant, in Ridgewood, NJ, Paul Kreisinger, esq, MSW, was celebrated for becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He has recently opened his private psychotherapy practice, in Ridgewood, in addition to his law practice. Paul, a Renaissance man, regaled his mental health colleagues with his professional ventures, as well as his nonprofessional activities. He is husband to a professional wife, doting father of an accomplished daughter, a musician and more lately, an exercise aficionado in addition to attending conferences far and wide. Attending mental health professionals, Shireen Meistrich, Elisabeth Curshen , Toby Friedman and Sharon Klempner admired his endless energy and good humor.
All enjoyed a scrumptious meal, chosen and prepared by the chef, and the camaraderie between members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey. We not only support each other professionally but also enjoy each other’s company, a plus, in trust, when working together as a team for clients.
The Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey held a seminar, for its collaborative attorneys, entitled “Ethics and the Collaborative Law Attorney”, on April 21, 2015. The Association’s president, Larry Esposito, esq. integrated Opinion 699 of the Advisory Committee of Professional Ethics with relevant New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals’ ethical standards and the recently passed New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act.
Discussion of a variety of ethical issues included: screening before a client signs onto the collaborative law process, confidentiality, discovery, cut-off dates and advocacy. Attorneys attending appreciated the breadth and depth of the seminar.
Joseph C. Note, Esq.
This is the sunset view on top of the Sofitel hotel in Broadbeach,Australia to kick off the welcome to the IACP Australian Institute event this past April! There were 120 participants learning and exchanging ideas, concepts, and theories about collaborative process and collaborative divorce. IACP members from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, England, Scotland, Canada, and The United States gathered for some in depth all day programming that aimed at honing and expanding their collaborative skills. I took a course on the Challenge of Teams and a course entitled the Psychology of Conflict. Both were enriching and intellectually stimulating as we exchanged ideas and experienced a deeper understanding of how the collaborative process is experienced throughout the world. I really appreciate the depth and the intimacy that the Institute learning has to offer, which is different than the Forum, but equally inspiring. For those interested in taking their collaborative divorce skills to the next level, I highly recommend attending the next Institute.
Shireen Meistrich, LCSW
The New Jersey Council of Collaborative Practice Groups held its annual state dinner on March 18, 2015, at Maggianno’s in Bridgewater, NJ with Ross Evans, esq as the featured speaker. Ross was a former president of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals [IACP] and has practiced collaborative law for many years,in Cincinnati, Ohio. His topic was “Public Education: Building Awareness in Your Professional Communities”.
Attendees included collaboratively trained attorneys, mental health and financial professionals. The Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey was well represented and members were enthusiastic about Ross’ guidance in helping other professionals and the public discover the benefits of collaborative divorce. Ross emphasized the importance of informing and educating the clergy who are close to those going through divorce and in distress. Collaborative professionals can ease the stress of couples who are divorcing, and their families, as well as mental health professionals and the clergy who are also there to help.
Joe Noto, esq
Young Children and Divorce…..On March 16, 2015 a group of attorneys and financial professionals of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey attended a presentation by four of the mental health members of the same group. Toby Friedman, LSCW, Linda Taylor, PhD, Elisabeth Curshen, LCSW and Sharon Klempner, LCSW offered a peak into the window of how younger children experience divorce. The group viewed “Split”, a documentary, by Ellen Bruno, in which children, age six through twelve, share their feelings about their parents’ divorce and how they cope.
Various aspects of the children’s divorce experience that Bruno covered were: Wondering, Two Homes, Back and Forth, Missing, What Happened, Wishing, New People, May Be, and Life Goes On. Seeing and hearing a young child say,”It’s something that you love breaks and you want to put it back together” but can’t or “I feel it was
my fault cause I was hard on my mother” takes the viewer into the child’s head for a moment to empathize with the curiosity, fears, helplessness, dependence and confusion. One marvels at their attempt and success at various ways of coping.
The group discussed how parents can be overwhelmed with their own emotions and responsibilities so they may not realize what their children are experiencing. Attendees were informed that children do not want to upset or anger their parents so they may not share all their feelings. Attorneys appreciated the Child Specialist role that mental health members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey perform to help children express their needs and help the parents understand those needs. The Child Specialist is the only member of the Collaborative team who sees the parents and the children, in a brief and focused manner. The Child Specialist is also available, post divorce, if requested, but only in the Child Specialist role, not as a therapist.
The presenters stressed that the importance of the role of the Child Specialist is not just for young children but extends to teens and adults, even those who are married with their own children.
Sharon Klempner, MSW, LCSW, BCD
On Sunday, February 8, 2015, members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey convened for their Annual Retreat at the Bergen County Bar Association in Hackensack. Featured was Victoria Smith, esteemed collaborative attorney, author and lecturer from Toronto, Canada, with over thirty years of experience.
The topic of Victoria’s day-long presentation was “Exploring Collaborative Advocacy”. The program focused on how the role of advocacy, in the Collaborative process, differs from advocacy in the tradition litigation model. Members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey who participated gained a better understanding of how the role of the advocate is redefined when applied to a Collaborative Divorce context.
Attendees also received training about the spectrum of advocacy in the Collaborative process, ranging from Facilitative Advocacy to Partisan Advocacy. Other skills honed at the Retreat included screening techniques for clients in the Collaborative process: working with a variety of clients who could be considered accommodating, bullying or those with unrealistic expectations. The feedback received from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.
A day-long upcoming training, which the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey is co-sponsoring, with the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, is entitled “Conflict Transformation”. The program, on February 26, 2015, in White Plains, New York, features a former President of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Nancy Cameron. Nancy is an internationally acclaimed Collaborative law expert, lecturer and author who will be speaking about conflict resolution strategies which practitioners can apply to all types of family law disputes.
Larry Esposito, Esq.
Members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey mourn the loss of a valued colleague, Lorraine Breitman, who passed away November 1, 2014. Although she had only practiced collaborative law for the past several years, her colleagues knew she would be a wonderful ‘fit’ for the collaborative process. Lorraine was a family attorney for more than 25 years and was dedicated to helping make the divorce experience more respectful for couples and their children. She was a devoted wife and loving mother who cherished her 10-year-old twins. Lorraine was an energetic presence who filled a room with sunshine with her grace, humor and positive attitude. If she saw a problem, she not only addressed it but offered possible solutions. Our colleagues consider themselves fortunate to have known and worked with her. She will be sorely missed and long remembered.
New Jersey has a reputation for being progressive in the development of statutory and case law with respect of family, divorce and custody matters. On September 19, 2014, New Jersey became the ninth state to enact a Collaborative Family Law Act.(NJCFLA). Passage of the NJCFLA reinforces general awareness that there are improved methods to resolve disputes rather than escalating acrimony via litigation, which can be financially and emotionally detrimental. The NJCFLA sets standards and unifies the concept of Collaborative Law already practiced in our state. Litigators who are interested in clients’ best interests recommend and attempt to utilize alternate dispute resolution techniques, when applicable to clients’ situations. New Jersey had already joined the national and international movement of Collaborative Law, which has been practiced in our state for years. The Collaborative Law method exists in 42 states and D.C. as well as 24 countries.
Courts and attorneys have employed various alternate dispute resolution techniques for years, beginning with the concept of negotiating and settling issues with an agreement reached between the parties, with the help and guidance of their attorneys. To assist in such an undertaking, the Early Settlement Panel [consisting of experienced volunteer attorneys) was developed and implemented in all counties. Eventually, counties offered complementary custody mediation. Then, mandatory economic mediation was introduced and these procedures were implemented within the framework of the litigation process. Most parties in litigation realize, at some point, that alternate dispute resolution [ADR] is superior to proceeding to a costly and emotionally draining trial. ADR techniques have evolved in many cultures and in the court systems; the collaborative divorce method operates completely outside of the litigation system until the final resolutions of issues results in an uncontested divorce.
Mediation can be pursued prior to or independent of litigation. However, not all couples are able to participate in mediation without ongoing assistance. It’s best for each party to have an attorney for legal advice. In Collaborative divorce, each party has an attorney, trained in mediation, trained in mediation as well who supports each client in positive manner that benefits both parties and their children.
For those considering divorce, it is important to know that members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey have been training for years in the collaborative method and are committed to its principles toward moderating the destructive aspects of divorce and creating a more constructive experience for divorcing couples and their families. Our collaborative divorce professionals have access to experts, as needed, who tailor the process to a couple’s, or family’s, specific situation and needs such as custody determinations, tax issues, evaluation tasks and legal issues.
Sharon Clancy, Esquire