Archive for the ‘news’ Category

“Rewritten” LOVE letters by Michelle Tetreault (2/14/16)

Friday, February 19th, 2016

This Valentine’s Day let’s “rewrite” the letters of LOVE. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of our romantic love connections, a time to reaffirm our affections, and a day to give to our loved ones by writing love letters, purchasing cards, flowers or candy.

For those of us who have chosen to work in the field of collaborative law, it is a time to pause and be mindful of the painful emotional triggers that songs, commercials and merchandise can evoke in our clients on Valentine’s Day or any other romantic holiday. We as professionals can re-examine our collaborative roles this Valentine’s Day and “rewrite” the letters of LOVE in order to effectively guide our clients as they work through the collaborative divorce process. It is beneficial for us to “rewrite” the letters of LOVE with a language that offers our clients hope and provides them with a safe space for our collaborative work to evolve.

“L”- Loss, Learn, Let go/Leave

Our clients are coping with loss, learning new ways to define their relationships and beginning to understand their emotional responses to the reality of divorce.  We can work together by encouraging our clients to “let go”, take emotional risks, and leave what was once a safe and familiar place for them.

“O”- Open, Opportunities, Options

Our clients will begin the process of learning to hear new suggestions and solutions as we support them in our role of creating a structure/framework/roadmap to safely guide them through their collaborative work. We will assist our clients by sharing options, creating new opportunities for change and providing them with a realistic collaborative framework.

“V”- Vows, Values, Vision

We can role model new behaviors and write new vows (promises & agreements) as our clients shift their values and the team collaboratively works towards a shared vision.

“E”- Empower, Encourage, Evolve

We will empower our clients to make effective decisions and demonstrate through example that all members of the collaborative team are active participants in creating solutions. We will encourage the team to make contributions for change throughout the process. We will witness our clients as they evolve. This evolution will be memorialized in a collaboratively written document. This “rewritten” letter of LOVE will reaffirm their collaborative agreements and symbolize their hard work, renewed commitments, time and investments in our collaborative process.

We will evolve both personally and professionally with each of our collaborative experiences due to our deeper understanding of our collaborative roles and our ability to continue to “rewrite” the letters of LOVE.


Michelle M Tetreault is a clinical social worker and a collaborative mental health coach in private practice in Exeter, NH. This is a condensed version of her presentation that was given to the Seacoast Collaborative Law Practice Group in which she is a member.

 Office number 772-0626

CLANH members discuss Collaborative Law on WFEA

Friday, November 6th, 2015

On October 26, CLANH members Karen Ela Kenny, MSW, LICSW and Attorney Kevin Rauseo  took to the air waves to discuss Collaborative Law on WFEA. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN


Will having a Collaborative team increase the costs of my divorce?

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Will having a Collaborative team increase the costs of my divorce?


No, for three reasons:


  1. The neutrals are specialists in what they do;
  2. Their hourly rates are lower than lawyers’; and
  3. The costs of the neutrals are generally split.


The coach is a licensed mental health professional with training and experience in relationships, communication, and conflict resolution. The coach has a neutral role, helping to prepare you for the settlement meetings by reducing misunderstandings and emotional intensity; as well as helping each of you to identify and express your needs and concerns.  Having a coach facilitate difficult conversations and negotiations helps the meetings to be more productive, reducing legal fees. Most important, a coach increases the likelihood of creating a mutually satisfying agreement.


The financial professional has training and experience in budgeting, taxes, and planning for your financial future. This knowledge allows him/her to help you understand your current financial situation, your options within the divorce process, and your future needs. As the financial professional is neutral, you and your spouse will have the same financial information. Without the financial professional, each of the lawyers would be spending time on financial calculations and education, which the neutral can do more efficiently.


This blog post was created by the Members of the Souhegan Valley Practice Group: Honey Hastings, W. John Dulmage and Anne Parsons.

Collaborative Law and Pre-nuptial Agreements: A Perfect Marriage

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

The typical or “old fashioned” way of preparing pre-nuptial agreements (or “pre-nups”)  involved one party’s attorney drafting and sending it to the other attorney, who reviewed and discussed it with his or her client, and then sent a letter with revisions.  The document continued to be volleyed back and forth until both attorneys found a document they believed their client could live with.  This process was not efficient and often included many unintentional results.  Attorneys, wanting to protect their clients, would include language which the client never mentioned, and perhaps never wanted within the document, which could lead to hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and stress.

Some of the basic tenets of collaborative law match perfectly with pre-nuptial drafting and agreements—there is no option for litigation with a pre-nuptial (performed before the marriage and must be entered into voluntarily), and both processes require a full, voluntary financial disclosure.  The preparation of pre-nuptials can often be difficult and emotional, and it occurs at what is often a stressful time in the couple’s life—they are trying to plan a wedding and make family and friends happy.  Pre-nuptials can cause a couple to face difficult decisions, which can lead to tension and conflict.

The collaborative process is perfect for pre-nuptials.  The couple can meet with collaboratively trained professionals to help them have these challenging discussions about finances and “what if” we divorce questions productively.  If there are emotional blocks to settlement, a coach or mental health professional can assist.  If there are complex financial considerations, a financial professional can be used.  Most importantly, the parties can avoid the back and forth miscommunications by doing a pre-nuptial the “old fashioned” way.



Attorney Jessica L. Ecker is a collaborative divorce lawyer with Weibrecht & Reis Law in Dover and Portsmouth.

Most Divorce Cases Settle without a Trial: Why not commit to settlement from the start?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Most divorce cases settle out of court, admittedly sometimes in the 11th hour, but often before.  In most cases the norm is settlement, either through some type of mediation, or lawyer-negotiated settlement, or the Collaborative Process.


Despite settlement being the norm, the various non-litigation paths are called Alternative Dispute Resolution methods.  Perhaps someday litigation will be viewed as the “alternative,” to be used only when unavoidable, if lawyers place added importance on their role as counselors.


Most clients dread the thought of court. Most clients do not want to be cross examined.  They do not wish to let a stranger make important family decisions for them regarding their money and their children. Most clients want to maintain their privacy and dignity. Most parents care deeply about their children, whether young or grown.


Litigating clients are often disappointed to find out that no one really wins or loses in family law cases; that the court, out of a policy of fairness, imposes a compromise on the parties, unless the parties settle. What if lawyers were to take the courtroom out of the equation and make a professional commitment to settlement? This is the lynchpin of Collaborative Law.

Lisa Forberg, Esq.

Lisa Forberg, Esq.

Attorney Lisa Forberg is a collaborative divorce lawyer with Forberg Law in Manchester, N.H. 

Why do I/we need a Coach? I/we don’t need therapy!

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

So often this question comes up when your attorney mentions that the Team approach in the Collaborative Process of divorcing involves a Coach.  While a Coach is a Licensed Mental Health Professional, and may even have his or her own therapy practice, the Coach is not providing therapy.  They have in fact undergone specific training to provide resources to you as a couple working through getting a Collaborative divorce.

To put it simply, Therapy ‘unpacks’ the issues to facilitate individual/couple healing, whereas Coaching ‘contains’ the issues in order to help you get to a more peaceful resolution as you reconstruct the family into two separate households. Much of the healing will take place post divorce. This process will help set the stage for mutual respect to achieve an outcome that benefits both you and the children during a sad and difficult time.


The Collaboratively trained Coach/Facilitator will:

*Identify goals, clarify interests, and concerns

*Provide effective communication tips

*Reduce misunderstandings and reduce emotional intensity

*Provide specific tools for problem solving and overcoming obstacles

*Collaborate with the couple, their attorneys and other involved professionals

*Develop effective co-parenting skills when children are involved

* Facilitate Team Meetings to ensure the best atmosphere for decision making

Karen Ela Kenny, LICSW

Karen Ela Kenny, LICSW

Karen Ela Kenny, LICSW is a Collaborative Divorce Coach and Facilitator in Nashua, NH.

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance may be best option after divorce

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Keeping all family members covered by health insurance is usually a shared goal in collaborative cases. If both spouses have insurance available through employment, that provides options.  Getting divorced allows signing up for insurance outside of “open enrollment” periods.  Some employers allow an ex-spouse to remain on the family coverage.

If neither of these options are available, the Affordable Care Act may be the best choice.  Federal tax credits will help pay the premium for a single person earning (or expected to earn in 2015) approximately $11,600 to $46,600.  Alimony counts as “earnings.”  Coverage may not be denied because of pre-existing conditions.  Preventive care is free (no copay).  For more information:

Attorney Honey Hastings

Attorney Honey Hastings

Attorney Hastings is a collaborative divorce lawyer with Honey Hastings, Counselors at Law in Wilton, N.H.


Managing Expectations

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the collaborative divorce process is that it is client driven.  That means that the clients identify what is most important to them at the beginning of the process and the focus of the team throughout the process is to try to find a solution that honors those interests and goals that the family has identified.  However, the role of the team members is also to keep the process on track.  As team members we will often times have a “debrief” at the conclusion of a case to examine what the team did well, and what areas there are for improvement.  The team debrief is a way for us as practitioners to reflect on the process with the benefit of hindsight and to see where we can learn and perhaps improve, for the next case.

At a recent debrief, our team focused on the length of time it took to resolve a case.  At the outset, the family had set a timetable for resolution that the team ultimately was unable to meet.  The team realized, during our debrief, that the family had an unrealistic expectation of the length of time this particular case was likely to take.  We as team members, and experienced practitioners should have modified the timetable at the outset, rather than have it take longer than anticipated at the end.  Sometimes we can’t always predict how a case will evolve, but as a team we should be constantly aware of the time that the case is taking, and have some discussion of realistic timeframes if the family is expecting a time table that may not be feasible.  Ultimately the parties will be most satisfied with the outcome if they are aware of the process and have input into any changes that are necessary along the way.  Using the roadmap may be a good start to managing everyone’s expectations.

Attorney Schirch

Attorney Schirch

Attorney Schirch is a collaborative divorce lawyer with Shanelaris & Schirch, PLLC in Nashua, N.H.


Liz Ferris Speaks at CLANH Annual Meeting About Strategies for Growing Your Collaborative Practice

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Top Ten Strategies for Growing your Collaborative Practice


1.      Master the initial client consultation.

2.      Attend ongoing training and practice group meetings to improve skills and competence.

Client focus:

3.      Focus on the client experience and exceptional client value.  (Seek client feedback)


4.      Develop and maintain an effective web site and blog to educate and inform clients on the value of Collaborative Practice. Post informative podcasts (attached is a podcast on describing collaborative practice) and the IACP video on your website


5.      Update your website bio and all online profiles, including Avvo and LinkedIn to include the value you provide clients versus a description of “what you do”.


6.      Maintain visibility with the public through your LinkedIn profile, articles, blogs and press releases.


Go to LinkedIn and view profiles for Janis Pritchard, Jason Sposeep and Robert Merlin


7.      Build and maintain a strong professional network of lawyers, mental health , financial and business professionals.

8.      Contribute and actively participate in the your collaborative community.


9.      Clarify your vision for your practice. What do you want to be known for? What problems do you excel at solving? Who are your best clients? Use your vision as an inspiration for scheduling the time to market your collaborative practice and attend practice group meetings and ongoing trainings. (See attached worksheet )

10.     Make a commitment and be accountable for executing your plan.


Timing of Divorce in Preparation for College

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

As couples with teenage children are considering divorce,  one of the things to think about is the timing of the divorce.  We have always considered the timing of divorce as this impacts the parties’ ability to file a joint income tax return.  However, I had never considered how this might impact their children’s ability to get financial aid.  I recently came across a post from Robert Bordett, a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in Georgia, in which he shares some information he learned about the timing of divorce and its impact on financial aid.

A collaborative divorce process allows the family to consider all factors associated with their divorce, including the timing.  As Mr. Bordett explains, the timing of the divorce can be crucial to the child’s ability to get financial aid.  This is because the income that is considered on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form is the parent’s income for the year prior to the start of college.  If a couple’s divorce is final in January of 2015 and the child starts college in September of 2015, the information from the joint tax return must be used for the FAFSA form.  If the divorce is final in December of 2014, then the information from the primary residential parent’s tax return can be used instead.  If the primary residential parent is the lower wage earner, this can make a significant difference on the amount of financial aid the child receives.

This is just one of many reasons that the Collaborative divorce process makes sense.  It provides the necessary information and flexibility to enable parties to consider things like the timing of their divorce.

Attorney McKay

Attorney McKay

Attorney McKay is a collaborative divorce lawyer with the Law Offices of Parnell, Michels & McKay, PLLC in Londonderry and N. Woodstock, N.H. www,