What Does Neutral Mean? Be sure to explain the role of each neutral professional at the first meeting. If the parties don’t understand what it means to be neutral, they may not trust the mental health or financial professional to be impartial and that could impact their effectiveness. Make certain the clients understand that neutral professionals can’t provide services outside the collaborative process to ensure they have no conflicts of interest.
Explain What Confidentiality Means. Take time to explain that the collaborative process is both confidential and transparent. Make sure the clients understand that you will share all information with the collaborative team and that no information will be shared with anyone outside the collaborative process. Don’t promise confidentiality to either client because it’s important that they understand all relevant information must be shared with the entire team. Only the attorney-client relationship retains some confidentiality within the collaborative process.
Help Clients Stay Organized. Give clients checklists and forms to guide them through the collaborative process. The financial professional needs to be clear what information he or she will need to complete the financial spreadsheet and the mental health professional should list the information he or she needs to develop a parenting plan. Clients appreciate a well-organized team because they understand being organized and efficient will save them time and money.
Coordinate Information with the Team. Make certain you integrate your information with the other team members so everyone knows what is happening with the clients at all times. All reports should be shared with the team members and explained in detail to the clients. Pay particular attention to whether one client seems to be having difficulty understanding a report, particularly when he or she may not be familiar with financial or legal materials. Communicate to the team any concerns you have about a client’s understanding of issues or their emotional status. The neutral professionals are in a unique position to observe the interactions of the clients when dealing with financial and children’s issues and these insights can help the team move toward a successful conclusion.
Focus on the Family. Keep the needs of the entire family, including the parents and their children, in mind when you are working through difficult issues. This will help when generating settlement options that meet the needs of both clients and their children.