The following is a glossary of terms used in the Collaborative Divorce process:

Legal Terms

Collaborative Attorney – An individual trained in the practice of law who espouses to the above method to aid couples in the dissolution (divorce) process. The Attorney addresses the legal issues that a couple faces in seeking a divorce. Through problem-solving negotiations that do not include adversarial techniques or tactics, the attorney advises their client concerning applicable law and its effect on them and helps them draft agreements in the spirit of cooperation.

Collaborative Law – Consists of two clients and their respective attorneys working together toward the sole goal of reaching an efficient, fair, comprehensive settlement of all issues. Each attorney’s retainer agreement specifies that under no circumstances will the lawyer represent the client if the matter goes to court. If the process fails to reach agreement and either party then wishes to have matters resolved in court, both collaborative attorneys disqualify themselves from further representation. Other professionals are brought into the collaborative process as needed, but only as neutrals, independently retained by each spouse. These professionals also disqualify themselves and cannot assist either party if the matter goes to court. The Collaborative process involves binding commitments by both parties and the attorneys to disclose voluntarily all relevant information, to proceed respectfully and in good faith, and to refrain from any threat of litigation during the process.

Mediation – A voluntary, private and confidential process, whereby a couple meets with a mediator who helps facilitate their communication in order to access resources and negotiate agreements.

Mediator – A neutral, impartial person who is trained in negotiating, conflict resolution and communication skills. The mediator does not represent any party or take sides, nor does he/she act as an attorney, judge, coach or therapist. He/she explains the mediation process to the parties, and assists divorcing couples to clarify issues, concerns, interests, needs and values. The mediator brings in and works with various professionals as needs arise.

The Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Divorce Model – In this model, clients select either collaborative attorneys, a mediator or a paralegal to help them facilitate their no-court divorce process. Other divorce professionals are called in on an as-needed basis to manage the financial, emotional, physical and spiritual issues as they arise during the divorce process. Central to this model is the idea that the clients and the professionals work together as a "team" with an attitude of cooperation and respect.

Paralegal – (Now known as a Legal Document Assistant or LDA) – An individual who helps a couple represent themselves in the dissolution of their marriage in a simple, uncontested divorce situation. An LDA will do all the processing of the paperwork throughout the divorce process. If a couple chooses to go through the Mediation Process, the LDA can also file the appropriate forms to complete the divorce.

Pro Per – (Latin) – Literally means "do it yourself." This term is often used in mediation and collaborative law to designate that clients have determined to represent themselves. For example, when filing papers through a Legal Document Assistant, clients sometimes file "Pro Per."

Financial Terms

Accounting – The system of recording and summarizing business and financial transactions, and then analyzing, verifying and reporting the results.

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst – Already trained as either accountants, investment advisors or financial planners Certified Divorce Financial Analysts receive specialized training to help divorce clients develop a fair and equitable financial settlement. Various scenarios based on different settlement options for dividing assets are explored. Spouses and their lawyers in a case review these considerations. All assets, debts, income and expenses — include but not limited to, health benefits, retirement plans, investments, home, stock options, alimony, child support, and tax implications–are factored into the financial models.

Certified Public Accountant – An accountant who has met the requirements of state law, through appropriate education and training, and has been granted a certificate. CPAs can audit one’s finances, which is vital to a fair and equitable property settlement in a divorce.

Financial Counselor – (In the CCD Model) – This professional acts as a neutral party who assists both spouses in gathering all the financial information about the couple or family in a supportive and nurturing environment. Each client is encouraged to assist in financial disclosure and documentation of the income, expenses, assets, and debts of the family. The essential shift is from a data focus to a system focus, whereby the financial counselor listens and then helps the clients understand the overall picture created by their particular family’s financial situation. The knowledge gained by the clients through the data collection and documentation can aid each partner in achieving the financial settlement he/she desires.

Financial Planner/Financial Advisor/Estate Planner – Certified professionals who work in the field of accounting, insurance, or investments. They advise clients on how to invest their money to get the best return on their dollar based on their own tolerance for risk. They can facilitate retirement planning, long-term financial investment and life insurance needs.

Emotional/Mental Health Terms

Child Representative – An experienced, licensed therapist with specific education and training in the expected behaviors, stages, challenges and tasks of the development of a child. They work with the child (ren) to address specific emotional and practical day-to-day needs as they relate to the divorce process. The Child Representative also helps in designing the parenting plans that specifically address the defined needs of the child (ren) as they go through the restructuring of the family.

Coach – (In the CCD Model) – A licensed therapist who teaches communication strategies that enable the divorcing couple to more effectively negotiate and solve problems in a cooperative manner. The Coach also provides the couple with information on co-parenting issues and helps them process the emotional issues that arise during the divorce process.

Therapist – A licensed mental health professional (Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychologist or Social Worker) trained in the assessment and treatment of emotional, personality and or relationship difficulties. The therapist may function under the CCD Model to help a person move through the transitions of the divorce process. A therapist can help individuals when they are facing emotions that may be overwhelming and interfering with day-to-day functioning. The therapist may also assist a client dealing with underlying core issues that are being triggered and surfacing due to being in the dissolution process.

Please note: In the CCD Model there is a distinction made between the role of a Therapist and the role of the Coach. Any mental health professional listed may be selected to work as a Coach for a divorcing partner. However, once a client chooses a therapist to be his or her Coach, that therapist cannot function as the client’s therapist as well. Should mental health issues arise that are of a deeper nature, the client can select another professional from the list of therapists in the CCD Web Site Directory.

Other Business Professionals

Actuary – Almost all actuaries are in the Insurance Industry. They are trained mathematicians dealing with probabilities and evaluating the current financial implications of future inevitable events. In the divorce process an actuary could be called upon to calculate the current assets of a couple and project what the worth would be at some future date. He/ She may also answer questions such as: How much would an unemployed person need in current assets to be equal to someone that has an established income? What would be the equivalent and what would be the future result of splitting up current assets? How long will a couple’s assets last if they are split equally?

Credit Repair – A professional involved in repairing an individual’s credit. He/She does more than just place the individual with a consumer credit agency, which arranges monthly payments to each creditor to whom a person owes money. This professional works directly with the individual’s creditors to negotiate a pay off agreement regarding the debt the client owes to a particular company.

Employment Specialist – Helps clients assess their marketability and their vocational skills to be successful in pursuing their chosen career path in the current job market. This professional can also help clients define their values, wants and needs as they pertain to the career/job the clients are seeking. The employment specialist aids clients in resume development and educates them in successful interviewing strategies.

Investigator – Provides investigative and background information services, including asset, property and bank location searches, credit reports, etc. These reports are often necessary to meet the legal requirements of full disclosure in the divorce process.

Life Insurance Agent – A State-licensed, trained financial professional, who represents a group of financial products. These products can provide protection against the loss of a wage earner’s salary due to death, provide money for burial and other final expenses, protect one’s estate from liquidation due to estate taxes, provide funds for college, and accumulate a pool of cash for use in retirement on a tax-advantaged basis, among many other uses. Proceeds are generally protected from creditors and income tax.

Mortgage/Loan Broker – Acts as an intermediary to secure financing for real estate. The property can be commercial and/or residential.

Professional Organizer – A person who teaches individuals how to become more efficient in getting rid of clutter and developing systems for storing and retrieving information. Using solid techniques and methods, this professional can aid others to overcome procrastination, help those who find it difficult to throw anything away, and/or encourage those who find themselves chronically disorganized.

QDRO – (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders) – These are legal papers that direct Qualified Plan Administrators and Employers to divide retirement plan assets according to the agreement of the parties. A person, who specializes in handling QDROs can also file documents to protect Retirement Plan Assets during the divorce process.

Real Estate Agent – First level designation of an individual trained and licensed to handle all aspects of buying and selling property — both commercial and residential. Usually an agent specializes in one or the other. He/She works under a Real Estate Broker (see below). This professional is qualified to aid clients in filling out the necessary paperwork for any real estate transaction. One of the services he/she provides is giving Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) of the value of property.

Real Estate Broker – Is licensed by the State at a higher level of expertise than an agent and is able to have his/her own Real Estate Brokerage Firm. Brokers may supervise agents that work under them and can perform all the functions of a real estate agent.

Virtual Assistant – A person who provides administrative support for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and consultants. He/She handles any needed administrative functions a client requests. Some examples of functions he/she can perform are: making appointments; doing correspondence; preparing marketing materials; maintaining databases; doing internet and telephone research; and customer follow-up.

Spiritual

In the CCD Model there is room for the spiritual aspect that is individual to every person. Our professionals are sensitive to the spiritual needs that may arise for individuals and families as the divorce process unfolds. Issues that can arise range from reaffirming one’s faith despite difficult times, to addressing conflicts regarding religion and parenting plans. We encourage you to address your spiritual needs with the professional you have chosen to assist you in your divorce process, who can then talk to you about the appropriate resources available.

SOURCE: The Coalition for Collaborative Divorce