Collaborative Divorce via Zoom

As social distancing and shelter-in-place have become the norm, the legal world – like other business sectors – is rapidly adapting to serve the needs of clients. This means that virtual meeting platforms, like Zoom or GoTo Meeting, are being integrated.

Because the Collaborative Process relies on team meetings to bring clients and divorce professionals together, most of us simply shifted to virtual meetings. To help create structure, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) recently issued a “suggested” addendum to provide guidance on using virtual meeting technology for Collaborative meetings. At Trinity Family Law, we modified the Addendum to be consistent with the Illinois version of the Participation Agreement (PA) and quickly put it to use.

Generally, the PA provides the structure for the Collaborative Process. Now, we must address the unique challenges of virtual meetings. The Trinity Family Law Addendum adds certain details to Article 2.2 (“How it Works” – Meetings section) and 6.1 (“Confidentiality and Privilege”). Here are a few examples:

2.2.d.1. Only the people who have signed the Participation Agreement may participate in Collaborative meetings. No other people may be physically present in the room of a participant during the online video meeting.

6.1.e.1. Video conference conversations and sharing of screens constitute Collaborative Process communications.

The first Collaborative team meeting sets the stage and lays the foundation for everything that follows. In the last few weeks, I have started three new Collaborative cases. We walked through the PA as usual, then covered the Addendum before signing.

In addition, many of the IACP suggestions are (in our opinion) better suited to include in our meeting Ground Rules, which we also cover at the first team meeting.

Like all things related to this virus, everything keeps changing. These virtual meeting guidelines will continue to evolve as new issues, even surprises, come up with video conferencing.

You can access a PDF of the PA Addendum we created here and the Ground Rules we updated here. Please feel free to use them in your own practice.

Be safe. Be well.

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