Collaborative Practice San Francisco

What are the Benefits? What are the Challenges?

Thinking about divorce? Know your divorce options.

Using the divorce mediation process option provides couples with tools to settle their differences rather than fighting in a court of law. Divorce mediation is facilitated by one or more neutral mediators who help define the issues, encourage out-of-the-box thinking, guide the information gathering and analyses, generate choices and allow couples to come to agreement together on the terms of divorce.

There are several benefits to divorce mediation:

  • RESPECTFUL: Divorce mediators are neutral facilitators who focus on respectful discussions to find creative solutions and agreements that benefit the both spouses as well extended family. Mediation promotes interest-based decision-making, supports solutions that the couple finds acceptable and focuses on what’s really important.

  • DURABLE: Creating agreements together means those agreements are more likely to be kept. Studies have shown that mutually agreed-upon child and/or spousal payments are more than likely to be paid. Non-adversarial approaches like mediation tend to foster continuing relationships and improve co-parenting plans in which the children’s best interests tend to be kept in mind and provides a model for resolution of any future disputes.

  • EQUITABLE: In mediation, neither spouse can claim victory at the expense of the other spouse because resolutions are created by and acceptable to both spouses. And, although few couples feel divorce is “fair”, the divorce mediation process supports settlement terms that are “fairly” negotiated and mutually agreed to.

  • PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: In a traditional adversarial divorce, everything submitted to the court is part of the public record. In mediation, however, no one has to know what is being said and documented except the couple and mediator.

  • VOLUNTARY: Mediation is a kinder process that supports conscious choices when dissolving their marriage and allows the couple to create solutions that meet their needs on their own terms rather than the court treating the couple like a case file or cold docket number.

  • AFFORDABLE: Divorce mediation usually costs significantly less than a lawyer-driven divorce because the couple controls the pace of the mediation.

  • TIMELY: The pace of the mediation process is controlled by the couple instead of the schedules of the lawyers or the court and is typically a shorter process that traditional litigation.

Although the benefits of mediation are significant, there are several challenges to consider:

  • ADVOCACY: If one spouse tends to dominate the other spouse to the point where power is unbalanced, an advocate for the weaker spouse may be useful in helping the couple come to an equitable resolution. The couple may not be able to negotiate effectively but mediators do not represent or advocate for either person.

  • COMFORT: Either spouse may not be comfortable in the same room with their spouse whether because there has been a history of coercive control or intimate partner violence.

  • CANNOT COMPEL: A mediator cannot work any harder than the divorcing couple. During the mediation process, a mediator cannot force either spouse to make decisions, keep commitments or meet deadlines for completing tasks even though mediation agreements are as legally enforceable as traditional litigated agreements.


WHERE: The San Francisco Jewish Community Center, 3200 California Street, SF

WHEN: Saturdays in 2019 from 9:30am-12:30pm on:  
March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1, July 6, August 3, September 7, October 5, November 2, December 7  

COST: $45 – pre-registration is not necessary – just show up.

A divorce attorney, a divorce financial specialist and a mental health professional will co-present a discussion of all the different process choices that are available and how to protect yourself legally, financially and emotionally. A divorce attorney will present a legal overview of the divorce process, a financial advisor will show you how to prepare for divorce, and discuss the financial and tax implications of property division and support and a mental health professional will talk about how you and your family can better cope with the stress of divorce, including strategies for communicating effectively, for rebuilding self-esteem and for insulating your children from the conflict.

Read more about Divorce Options™ workshops

Written by DON BLYTHE


By Beth Proudfoot, LMFT

Respectful Divorce -- for some that may sound like an oxymoron. But people who have been married for twenty years or more are often searching for a way to divorce peacefully, with respect and dignity…and even hugs or handshakes after negotiating a fair settlement for both spouses.

Sometimes the challenge is that friends and family egg on the conflict. They’ll suggest that, “You need to hire a Shark!” or tell divorce horror stories such as, “My friend Sam lost EVERYTHING.” The search for a process that is kind, thoughtful, and respectful seems impossible. But there is a way!

Collaborative Divorce is a better way to untie the knot. Your financial issues may be complex, or emotions may be high. One or both spouses could be feeling so angry, hurt, or betrayed they have a hard time thinking or communicating clearly. The Collaborative Divorce process gives couples the support they need and can deliver the kind of divorce settlement that breaks the odds and doesn’t break the bank.

Many family law attorneys these days are calling themselves “collaborative,” meaning that they work with other attorneys with integrity to come as close as possible to a win-win solution. Collaborative Divorce is something quite different. It’s an alternative dispute resolution process which requires special training and experience that involves professionals from different disciplines all working together. These professionals include divorce financial analysts and mental health/communication coaches in addition to family law attorneys They are all members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals which is a clear indication of their commitment to the Collaborative Divorce process. There is a strict code of ethics and structured protocols which have been proven to work to help couples to communicate effectively and develop creative win/win solutions for the entire family.

Collaborative Divorce may not be for everyone. Some divorcing spouses need the protection of court orders. Some estates are so basic, and some communication challenges are so minor that couples can do the divorce themselves with help from online resources or mediate with a single skilled mediator. However, when feelings are bitter, trust is low, the estate has lots of moving pieces, AND both parties have no interest in starting a war, Collaborative Divorce may be the answer. For more information or to find a San Francisco Collaborative Divorce Professional, visit our Professional Listings.

Beth Proudfoot, LMFT practices in the San Francisco Bay area. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who offers services as a collaborative divorce coach, a child specialist, a mediator, and parenting coach.

About CPSF

Collaborative Practice San Francisco is a group of professionals interested in avoiding court battles and power struggles to resolve conflicts. Our group is a multi-disciplinary, multi-field group open to all professionals interested in Collaborative conflict resolution. Read more...

Will CP work for me?

If the following values are important to you, it is likely to be a workable option:

  • I want us to communicate with a tone of respect.
  • I want to prioritize the needs of our children.
  • My needs and those of my spouse/partner require equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.

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