We periodically feature our members (Fellows) to help you learn more about them, Collaborative divorce, and our organization.
Name: Karen Covy
Profession: Divorce Attorney
Title: Divorce Adviser, Attorney, Mediator & Coach
What drew you to become a Collaborative Divorce Professional?
After years of watching people hurt themselves and their families by fighting in divorce court, I was eager to discover a way that they could get a divorce with dignity and respect instead of frustration and pain.
Through the Collaborative Divorce Process, people can end their marriage while still preserving their relationship with their ex. For divorcing parents, that’s incredibly important. The more a couple can communicate with each other after their divorce, the smoother their co-parenting relationship will be.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is a specific divorce process where spouses, their attorneys, and other divorce professionals work to resolve their divorce in a conference room rather than a court room. The Collaborative Divorce process does that by focusing on the divorcing couple’s needs and interests, rather than on creating a “winner” and “loser” in divorce.
Collaborative Divorce is the most supported divorce process because it uses a team approach. Unlike in a traditional divorce when the only divorce professional you may use is a divorce lawyer, a in Collaborative Divorce you may use several different professionals to guide you through your divorce, including a divorce coach and a neutral financial professional.
Each divorce professional works within their area of expertise to help you get through your divorce with confidence and clarity.
The Collaborative Divorce Process starts by signing a Participation Agreement. You, your spouse, and all the divorce professionals sign the same agreement.
In that agreement, everyone commits to using the Collaborative Divorce Process to amicably resolve your divorce issues outside of court. If you or your spouse decide to ditch the Collaborative Process and go to court, all of your divorce professionals withdraw.
While that may sound extreme, in a traditional divorce, your divorce professionals make more money if you fight in court. By agreeing that they will no longer work with you if you fight in court, your divorce professionals align their financial interest with yours.
Signing the participation agreement gives everyone an incentive to keep working together amicably to resolve your divorce.
How do you choose your Collaborative Divorce team?
I choose a Collaborative Divorce team with my client in mind. Every divorce is different. Every couple has different needs.
By focusing on what my clients and their families need, I’m able to recommend Collaborative Divorce Professionals who will be best suited to meet those needs.
However, the ultimate decision about who to place on the Collaborative Divorce team always rests with my client and his/her spouse. My client and his/her spouse must be comfortable with their professional team. So I make recommendations about who they might want on their team. But it’s up to each couple to finally choose their Collaborative Divorce Professionals.
What kind of training did you receive as a Collaborative professional?
I firmly believe that to be effective, Collaborative Divorce Professionals need proper training. Unfortunately, too many lawyers these days will say that they “are collaborative” even though they’ve never been trained in Collaborative Divorce.
Professionals in Collaborative Divorce of Illinois have to maintain the highest level of training and education. That’s why I went through Collaborative Divorce Basic Training … twice! Each of those trainings extended over several days.
Since graduating from Basic Training I have consistently taken continuing education courses in Collaborative Divorce every year to maintain my skills and expertise.
I also participated in a 40 hour mediation training and actively worked as a mediator for many years.
What tips do you have for couples considering divorce?
The biggest tip I have is to choose the divorce process you want to use BEFORE you choose your lawyer.
Too many divorcing people want to divorce amicably but make the mistake of hiring a gladiator lawyer first. Once they do that, their lawyer tells them which divorce process they will use (i.e. litigation!). At that point the client loses the ability to choose their divorce process.
They also lose a lot of control over their divorce.
What most people don’t realize is that once they’ve hired a lawyer they usually doesn’t want to change lawyers – even if keeping their lawyer means fighting in court.
Changing lawyers is a hassle. It’s expensive. So people don’t want to do it.
By choosing their divorce process FIRST, a client can focus on hiring a lawyer who has expertise in working with that process. That way they have a better chance of getting both the lawyer and the divorce process that they want.