Family Legal & Mediation services

Collaborative Divorce with Kristen Goss

Collaborative Divorce- A Compassionate Path Forward

Welcome to our blog, where today we delve into a topic that resonates deeply with many: navigating the complexities of divorce. But we approach it with a lens of hope and transformation. In our latest podcast episode, we explore the world of collaborative law with the insightful guidance of Kristen Goss, a distinguished collaborative divorce attorney based in Florida.

Divorce can often be a path strewn with emotional and legal challenges. However, through the lens of collaborative law, it becomes a journey of mutual respect, understanding, and dignified resolution. Kristen Goss, with her profound experience and empathetic approach, sheds light on this empowering alternative to traditional divorce proceedings.

In this engaging and informative episode, Kristen shares:

  • Understanding Collaborative Law

    Dive into the essence of collaborative law and how it fosters a cooperative rather than a confrontational approach to divorce.

  • Real-Life Insights and Experiences

    Kristen shares compelling stories from her practice, illustrating how collaborative law can lead to amicable and respectful resolutions.

  • Navigating Emotional and Financial Terrain

    Learn how this approach holistically addresses the emotional wellbeing and financial interests of all parties involved.

  • Practical Guidance for Families

    Whether it’s co-parenting dynamics or financial settlements, Kristen provides valuable insights for those considering this compassionate path.

This episode is not just for those contemplating divorce, but for anyone interested in understanding how legal processes can align with humane and respectful resolutions. So, we invite you to tune in, gather insights, and see how collaborative law might reshape your perspective on divorce.

Full Transcripts Below

Kristen Goss is the founder and managing partner of KWG Family Legal and Mediation Services, LLC. Her areas of focus include Divorce, Child Support, Timesharing, Adoption, Surrogacy, Dependency, Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Guardianship.



Season Two Bonus Episode: Collaborative Divorce with Kristen Goss FULL TRANSCRIPTS

Erica Bennett [00:00:00]:
Hey, guys. I hope you are enjoying your holiday break. As you know, last week was a season finale for season two of the Crazy Ex-Wives Club. But the gifts keep coming. I wanted to add a bonus episode, so I’m bringing up Kristen Goss, an amazing family attorney from Florida, to talk all about collaborative divorce. So enjoy this bonus episode. And as always, Season Three will be back in two weeks to kick off learning how to thrive in your new normal. I hope you guys enjoy this bonus episode. Let me know what you think.

Erica Bennett [00:00:33]:
When I was exploring divorce options, I really struggled with finding anything other than hiring an attorney who was going to go fight and get me what I wanted. I remember reading a random article, right about however Gwyneth Paltrow had handled her divorce, and it launched me down researching a little bit more about collaborative divorce, about partnering together. And I’m super excited to talk to you today with today’s guest about what that process can look like, about how it can set you up for success, and about all of the different areas that you might not think about when you’re getting started on this journey. So let’s get started.

Erica Bennett [00:01:18]:
Welcome to The Crazy Ex-Wife’s club, a podcast dedicated to helping women navigate the emotional journey that is divorce. I’m your host, Erica, and if you’re trying to figure out life after the big d, welcome to the club. Whether you’re contemplating divorce or dealing with the aftermath or any of the many phases in between, the club has got you covered. Each week you’ll hear stories from women who have been in your shoes. This isn’t about spilling tea on divorce details. This is about giving you the tools to take control of your own healing journey. Listen in weekly for advice, tips, and tools to help you move through each stage of the process.

Erica Bennett [00:01:58]:
Hello. Welcome back to another episode of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club. I’m your host, Erica, and today I have Kristen Goss with me. She’s a collaborative divorce attorney who specializes in helping support her clients to get access to the information and the support they need while working together to create a new way forward in their next chapter. So welcome, Kristen. Thank you for joining me today.

Kristen Goss [00:02:23]:
Thank you, Erica, for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Erica Bennett [00:02:26]:
Yeah, absolutely. I know when we had first talked, I loved how you had talked about kind of all the different angles that you can bring into a collaborative divorce process. In my case, what ended up happening is I found somebody who fell more on the collaborative side. My ex and I actually wrote all of our own agreements at home. We didn’t do any of it in the office, we went through, okay, what are we doing with the 401k? And we each had a car. What’s the percentage? We’re going to split on the house. And we really did it all ourselves. And then I took it into this attorney.

Erica Bennett [00:02:58]:
She helped me understand if there were things maybe I hadn’t quite asked for, like, how are we going to rotate who claims the child? Is it going to stick with one? Is it going to rotate back and forth? And then she helped file the paperwork. We split the cost. So I would say my experience with the collaborative divorce process was probably not what it is today or how you help people. And that’s what really stood out when we talked, because I was like, well, yeah, my ex and I wrote it together, and we split a lawyer, and she was not out to get him, but she was out to support me because I’m the one that hired her and helping me get what I wanted. But there’s so much more to it, and that’s why I wanted to have you on, because the stress and the emotional wear and tear of trying to find the right lawyer. I interviewed so many lawyers and which was going to be the right fit and who was going to be able to help and the time, the cost associated with it. And to be honest, the process is such an emotional process, too. There’s the business, but there’s the emotion, too.

Erica Bennett [00:03:59]:
And finding the right support system so that you’re moving forward is really important. So tell us a little bit about what you do and how you support your clients.

Kristen Goss [00:04:09]:
Thank you so much. That is a very important question. And I’d like to start off with a story of how I actually ended up getting into this. Growing up, my mom was a social worker and my dad was a pastor. And so I observed them a lot, helping families. So from a very early age, I developed a love and a passion for helping families. I came from a very loving home. My parents remained together until they passed away.

Kristen Goss [00:04:37]:
Both of them, unfortunately, are no longer here, but they are here in spirit. And just the love and the support that I received from my parents, it molded me into who I am today, and I’m thankful for that. I am a rules, policies, procedures type of gal. And so family law, kind of like, was the make sense role and path that I wanted to take. I did not, unfortunately, find out about the collaborative law process until way after passing the bar, being on my own. And I wish I had known about it prior, because my philosophy is families do not deserve to be in court. I have tons of litigation experience and every time I would go to court for a trial involving a divorce, especially when children are involved, my heart was breaking. There was no resolution.

Kristen Goss [00:05:36]:
It was a circular motion. And what really was “okay, there’s got to be a better way” was a situation that I had. It was actually a paternity case. And the father, who I did not represent, filed a contempt against the mother, who was my client. And in a nutshell, he was claiming that she wasn’t doing certain things. The child was not in school. The child was 16.

Kristen Goss [00:06:02]:
But this started when the child was eight. Eight years later, the child is 16, and the child is completely messed up, depressed. My heart really ached for the child, because you have people who are going through such an emotional time in their life, and instead of holding them up and supporting them as professionals, you have a battle in court. And at the end of the day, no one’s winning, and the children are suffering. I got trained in collaborative process, January 2020. So knock on wood, right before the pandemic, and it blew me away. When I got trained, I was like, this is exactly what I want to do with my life. This is exactly why I went to law school, to be a family law attorney.

Kristen Goss [00:06:54]:
And in a nutshell, it’s basically doing everything that I would do in a litigated setting, but differently. I’m not focusing on positions. I’m not focusing on tearing families apart. I’m supporting them as their legal representative, advocating for their interests, their goals. Whatever fears and concerns they have, we bring that to the table. But we’re doing it in a team-like setting, with a group of professionals. I’m representing one of the spouses. Another collaboratively trained attorney is representing the other spouse.

Kristen Goss [00:07:27]:
And we bring on professionals, mental health professionals. They’re not doing therapy. They’re there to help facilitate and make sure that the process is running smoothly. They do address the emotions, because how can you not address the emotions in family law? It is emotional. It is a human aspect to the legal process, and we need to recognize these human emotions. So the therapist, the facilitator in the process, helps us do that, and then we bring on financial neutrals, a CPA, a forensic accountant who can really do their role, their job, that they went to school for, that they love the numbers of things, but we’re all working together as a team and supporting the family in a holistic way.

Erica Bennett [00:08:16]:
I love that because you don’t know what you don’t know. And when you’re getting divorced, you’re already hurting, you’re already emotional, and you’re being asked to sort out all of these questions that have long term legal aspects to them. The consequences of setting up the finances wrong is bad, right? Like this can knock the wind out of your sails for years, if not for your lifetime, if it’s not set up correctly. But you don’t know. In the role of a lawyer, right. The lawyer is meant to fight for you. That’s why you hired them. You hired them to show up and fight.

Erica Bennett [00:08:54]:
And so now you have two people who were already fighting, and then their lawyers show up and fight some more, and you put more fuel to a fire of being wounded, being hurt, being upset, and it is the kids that suffer in the middle. I also can think of an example where the kids are stuck. They’re back in court again. They’re at a deadlock. They’re literally looping in circles. And it’s been two years. And the ones who are suffering are the kids who are getting suspended, who are having health issues, who are reacting. They’re just getting put on more psych meds instead of being given the help that they need.

Erica Bennett [00:09:34]:
And it’s got to start from the beginning. I think I get a little bit on a soapbox because I feel like parents become the kids in the divorce process. I just want to say, like, grow the fuck up, you guys. I was not always perfect. I remember laying on the floor, screaming and yelling and saying all sorts of terrible things because I was really hurt. And then I had to choose to stop it because it didn’t help anybody. It was hurting me. It was hurting my son.

Erica Bennett [00:10:02]:
It was hurting us. And so I had to make the choice that I needed to do something differently. Whether or not he changed.

Kristen Goss [00:10:10]:
Wow. Yeah. That’s amazing. That right there, what you said, doing something, whether or not the other person changed. A lot of times when I’m advocating for my clients, that’s one of the things I tell them, the only person you can control is yourself. There are a lot of things that you can control, but there are a lot of things that you can’t control. One is how the other person is going to react, what they’re going to do, what they’re not going to do. But maintaining control over yourself, that’s the power.

Erica Bennett [00:10:41]:
Well, and so often I hear, well, they need to be nicer, they need to change, and you’re waiting for the other person to do something different. But the reality is that if one person makes a subtle shift, it changes energy and the dynamic. Like the moment I stopped sending back the smart ass text. Right. Or the example I think about often, which came up later, not during the divorce process, but after, he would be always late to drop our son off. And I never knew when he was actually coming home. And so it used to be like, at 605, where are you? You’re late. Right.

Erica Bennett [00:11:16]:
And that’s a factual statement. He was wrong. The divorce decree outlined he had to be there. I was in the right, but what I was doing wasn’t helping anything. And I had to soften a little bit and be like, you know what? My kid’s safe. He is going to come home. He always does, probably within an hour. And if I change my behaviors on this, guess what? His behaviors changed.

Erica Bennett [00:11:37]:
He stopped being late because he stopped having a way that he could get me, a way that he could just rile me up and piss me off in the littlest subtle way. So I think during the divorce process, let’s stay there for a bit. One of the things that I had done that I think, to be honest, was unusual and it would be really hard for most people to do. But because I had spent two years discovering myself and being focused on, like, this is good for everybody, and I want a solution that’s good for everybody. When we sat at that table, I think about the house specifically, I knew we weren’t going to split it 50 50 because it was my inheritance that was the down payment, and I had paid every mortgage, but I didn’t want to do the work to figure out what percent was like wedding gifts, what percent was inheritance from relatives who had passed of the down payment to really calculate out the nitty gritty. So we just came up with a percent. And I remember I started low and he started high, and we did the thing. And I got to a point where he’s like, that’s ridiculous, because how am I supposed to go be able to buy a house now for our son to live in? And I remember being so irritated and so trying to strangle the money that I had put in the house that I got up and I walked away and I said, you know what? I’m actually reacting now from not in a place that I want us both to win.

Erica Bennett [00:12:56]:
I’m reacting and trying to hurt you. We need to pause the conversation and we need to come back to it later. And I left and he left, and we did things that got us back to being like, hey, this is going to be okay. And then we came back together. But I think that that’s rare, right? That’s why you hire the collaborative attorney. So in those situations, how do you help your clients? Or what advice do you have for somebody who’s finding themselves? They came to the table with what they thought they were going to negotiate or ask on, and all of a sudden they find themselves reacting to something that’s triggered them. What advice do you have?

Kristen Goss [00:13:35]:
A number of things. I would say. Why? I always love to ask the question why? It’s like that orange scenario. I don’t know if you’ve heard that scenario before. So let’s say both of you want the orange, but you want the orange for different reasons. I may want the orange because I want to have the peel to make an orange pie. You may want the orange because you want the inside. You want to eat the orange.

Kristen Goss [00:14:01]:
You love orange juice. Both of you can have the orange because your interests and what you want are different. So I start with asking a lot of questions. Why is it that you want 50/50 timesharing? Or why is it that you want to have ultimate decision making authority when it comes to your child’s education and really getting down to the reason why? Because oftentimes, more often than not, it’s getting to that reason, why that makes the difference. And that, I would say, is the key difference between going to court and battling it out versus going through the collaborative process. We really get down to the nitty gritty as to why someone says x. There’s always a reason why, and oftentimes, again, it’s different. Both of them have different perspectives, different reasons why they want something.

Kristen Goss [00:15:02]:
And negotiating, like you say, getting to like, okay, we can work it this way because they want totally different things, but we can make it work. Also having the support of the team, because there are those times where you have to pause, or I may have to pull my client aside and have a sidebar or go into a breakout room if we’re on Zoom and really talk and flesh things out, and the other attorney vice versa, or them speaking with the facilitator by themselves. The collaborative process is so creative. There’s not like a sugar one size fits all for a family. We really create our own, because every family is different. Every family is unique. And working with the family, meeting the family wherever they are, and finding creative ways to really get them what they really are truly interested in.

Erica Bennett [00:16:01]:
Yeah, and you can only get to what they really want if you can get to the why in anything. If you’re in a relationship and you’re struggling with your partner, there’s something you want and they’re not doing it. Have you sat down and asked yourself why. It’s the same process when you can get to the root of what is it that you’re really, really asking for? Not the initial ask what is the root that you are trying to soothe? And why do you need that soothed then? Now you can move towards a solution because otherwise you’re just throwing out examples. It’s like peeling the onion. Oh, I really want the tv. You don’t really want the tv. You probably want a new tv, but you think you’re going to want the tv to stop him from having the tv. It’s like, get to the why? And you realize very quickly, oh, there’s a lot of these things that I’m kind of fighting or pushing against that maybe don’t really matter, that I can let go and move forward with.

Erica Bennett [00:16:55]:
So who would you say? Because you’ve mentioned the team a few times, who are all the people on the team? Because what are all the areas we don’t think about? There were a lot of areas that I didn’t think about. I’ve shared the story that I was really caught off guard. We’re in the final thing. I’m reading over the final. I’m in the lawyer’s office. She’s like, here’s the document. I’m walking you through it. Oh, yeah.

Erica Bennett [00:17:16]:
Do you want me to add this extra form to change your last name? And I’m like. And it’s like, you know that. But nobody had asked me to start to think about that. And that was a whole new level of grief, of identity, of who I was, of the same name with my son that I wasn’t ready to face yet. So I think the more they can understand all of the aspects or the facets. So, like, who are these people on the team and what areas do they represent that people should be thinking about?

Kristen Goss [00:17:45]:
Absolutely. That’s a great question. It depends. And I go back to the creativity of the collaborative process because we bring on people as needed. So if you are dealing with or for me, when I’m representing someone who was not really keen on the finances, I recommend a financial advisor, a financial coach, someone who could really get them up to par with where they are financially, get them educated, empower them, so that they can begin to look at things today and in the future. How are they going to make decisions? How are they going to live? Because after all of this is said and done, they’re going to be on their own to a certain extent. So finding their identity, like you said, again, that would be one additional key player. Another person would be like a mortgage broker and a real estate or a realtor. We have what you call certified divorce lending specialists, mortgage brokers who really specialize in the divorce industry, and they help us as attorneys even to make sure that we’re including specific language in the settlement agreement so that the clients aren’t screwed.

Kristen Goss [00:19:01]:
So it’s a win win all the way around. So we’ll bring those particular professionals on. And most times, these additional professionals, there’s no additional cost. They’re doing their job. When things are resolved, they would get paid on the back end. So it’s not going to be an upfront cost to the clients. A lot of times, estate planning attorneys, when you’re going through a divorce, you have to think about, okay, how are things going to change with my estate? Do I have to take someone off? Do I have to add someone on? Thinking about those things is really key. And again, that’s what really makes the process more holistic.

Kristen Goss [00:19:41]:
Because when you’re going through a litigated setting, you’re not thinking about, oh, let me bring on an estate planning attorney to talk about the next steps after the divorce, or let me bring on this divorce lending specialist to really make sure I’m including language. I’ve heard horror stories of settlement agreements that were already done in the litigation process because you’re like, go, go, okay, I’m going to get this for my client, not even thinking why you’re doing that or putting that sentence in the agreement, and it screws your client because it’s something that can’t be done in the lending industry. And so what’s going to happen then? So, yeah, it’s bringing on whomever, you name it, a real estate attorney, we can bring that person on for a specific part of the process. So, yeah, divorce coach, again, I said the facilitator is there to help make sure the process is flowing. But sometimes I would recommend a divorce coach if I have a client that’s really stuck in the weeds emotionally and they just can’t get out. So the divorce coach helps with that, helping to find ways of coping, how to navigate your emotions through the process, because divorce is a trauma and it’s important to make sure that you’re okay and that you’re navigating the process as healthy as possible.

Erica Bennett [00:21:05]:
Yeah. And that’s the thing. When we get stuck in the weeds, in our emotions, we don’t make always the most logical decision. Right. You’re either very logical or you’re very emotional. And divorce is an emotional process. And there was probably a lot of years of junk before you got to the point of actually filing. And so you’re dealing with this rage, this blame, this anger at what happened, the resentment with the partner.

Erica Bennett [00:21:35]:
If there’s infidelity, you’re dealing with that. But then you’re also dealing with a ton of grief, the loss of what you thought was going to happen, the dreams that are never going to be the loss of their family, like all those pieces. And then in the midst of that big old tornado, we expect you to be able to make these legal decisions that are signed on the dotted line and put into the system. And it’s hard. It’s a lot to carry. So it’s important to have the right support.

Erica Bennett [00:22:07]:
Hey guys, it’s Erica. I want to personally invite you to join The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Cohort. This is a small group coaching program that I am thrilled to be leading. If you’re a woman navigating the rocky waters of divorce, I know how challenging it can be, and it’s why I created this program. I truly believe it can make a difference in your journey. Each week we’ll meet for 60 minutes and I’ll be right there with you, guiding you through the healing transformation of the three phases from those uncertain moments in your marriage to the overwhelming afterworld of divorce. We’re going to conquer it together. You’ll learn how to line up to what you want.

Erica Bennett [00:22:44]:
You’ll find yourself and you’ll get your feet underneath you to thrive in your new world. And the group isn’t just about coaching, it’s about community. You’ll have the chance to connect with others who understand what you’re going through, and I’ll be there to provide expert guidance and answer all of your questions. So if you’re tired of feeling alone on the path, if you’re ready to experience guided development, support and the warmth of a community that truly gets it, this is your invitation. Don’t hesitate. Check out the details at and take that first step towards healing and thriving. I can’t wait to meet you and be a part of your journey towards a brighter future. The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Cohort is your path to empowerment.

Erica Bennett [00:23:27]:
So what are you waiting for? I promise you won’t regret it. You guys go check it out. And I can’t wait to see you in the group.

Erica Bennett [00:23:36]:
I love that the collaborative process can really be what you want it to be versus finishing a checklist, right? Because everybody is so different. Like I shared in our example, we both worked, we both had corporate jobs. We both had our own 401ks issued through our employers. We just agreed we didn’t need to touch each other’s. We each had a car and we were paying for our own car. Okay, great. That’s an easy way to separate it. So being able to really do it our own way, we made some changes.

Erica Bennett [00:24:08]:
We adjusted some of the stuff that went against what we filed in the state of Minnesota, and that had to be brought up when we brought it in front of the judge. And they’re like, hey, they’re deviating from what the state recommends, because who is the state to know what needs to happen or doesn’t need to happen? It’s your family, and it’s the new chapter of your family and how you want it to.

Kristen Goss [00:24:29]:
Absolutely. And even you made me think of special needs cases, children with special needs. And going to court in Florida at least is sugar coat or a cookie cutter way of, this is the time sharing. But considering certain special needs, especially, for example, children who have autism, changing up the structure for them just like that, that could be devastating to a child with autism. And the collaborative law process allows for that creativity to come up with a schedule that would best meet the child’s needs, opposed to a total stranger. The judge saying, oh, we’re just going to give the child to mom 50% of the time, give the child to dad week on, week off, or Monday, Tuesday, one parent, Wednesday, Thursday, the other parent. You guys alternate weekends. That’s like a big shock to a child with autism.

Kristen Goss [00:25:25]:
It can be.

Erica Bennett [00:25:27]:
Yeah, I agree. I’ve seen it happen. I’m watching it happen in the case that there are special needs kids that have, like, 18 year life expectancy. And the standard in the courts is that they need to be in school. And what’s important in their life is not that they spend eight to three, five days a week in school. What’s important is that they have time with both parents. What’s important is that they’re building these memories because a career, a college, a school, this is not in their long term future, but it is 100% showing up and the court is just saying, well, their system is over there so that they can’t be out of school, and it’s really frustrating.

Erica Bennett [00:26:09]:
And so when you don’t have a partner who’s willing to work with you on writing new rules, those cookie cutter answers can be very painful in some of those situations.

Kristen Goss [00:26:21]:

Erica Bennett [00:26:22]:
How long would you say a collaborative divorce process takes?

Kristen Goss [00:26:26]:
It does depend. But what I could tell you is from my experience, the longest that I have had was eight months. And that was a case with everything and the kitchen sink thrown at, safety concerns involving three kids that were all under five, alcoholism concerns, the spouses living in different counties, navigating timesharing. How was that going to look? So that ended in eight months. If it were to have gone to court, I could see hands down two to three years on average.

Erica Bennett [00:27:02]:
Yeah. Because I was going to say, gosh, eight months. That feels when you hear that, you’re like, okay, that’s long, but it’s not that long when you’re looking at the courts. Drag it out for years or not even in the courts. Like, let’s not even blame the courts, but let’s just say if you’re fighting with the other person, you can go back and forth and back and forth for years. And even if you get an agreement, I think about lots of people that get an agreement, and the other person is just like, f you. I’m not doing it. And then what’s your choice? Your choice is to go back and hire more lawyers and to take them back to court and drag them back through the system.

Erica Bennett [00:27:40]:
Man, if you spent eight months just going a step at a time and really digging into each of those pieces until both parties felt good about it, that would be so worth it in the long run. And that’s where it feels like somebody might be like, well, I can’t even imagine what that one might have cost. And I’m like, yeah, but you’re either going to go slow and steady in the beginning and create a solid foundation and really keep those emotions in check and make the agreements that work and invest up front, or you will spend 18 years fighting them in lawyer fees and everything else and mental cost. Okay, well, how much do you say the average one is? Like three months?

Kristen Goss [00:28:20]:
Yeah, I would say probably a little bit more. Four to five months?

Erica Bennett [00:28:24]:
Yeah. Enough time. You need enough time to line yourself up to each decision. To take time to think through. Like, hey, this is what we’re talking about. What do I really want? Why do I really want this? Is there a third alternative I can see versus trying to rush through all the decisions? I know there were decisions that rushed through that. I’m like, yeah, I wish I had made a little different one, but it is what it is right now, and we’ll figure it out.

Kristen Goss [00:28:50]:
Yeah. And then there’s sometimes where we kind of test it out, too, because this is the first time that they’re going to try a certain timesharing schedule for example, they’ve never tried it before. They don’t know how it’s going to work out. So let’s give it a try for two months and then come back to the table and see how it worked out. Is there anything that we can tweak? So it depends, too, on. I’ve had cases where that’s happened, where we will try something temporarily and then agree. Okay. We’re going to meet three months down the road and see how that went.

Kristen Goss [00:29:25]:
If it went well, then we’ll continue. If it didn’t, and there are certain things that we can tweak, we’ll do that.

Erica Bennett [00:29:31]:
I love that. I think that, that if everybody got to do a little trial run of what the coparenting schedule looked like, I think that would really help people out a lot because we had to make some adjustments, too. And it just came down to, I just had to be the mama bear. He wanted the extra time, and I’m willing to give my son all the extra time with his dad as long as his dad was there. Right. But his dad worked different retail schedules and was gone early in the morning or worked late at night. And dropping my kid off to a babysitter at his dad’s house and watching my kid have a meltdown because he’s like, and there wasn’t anything wrong with the babysitter. She was a very nice girl.

Erica Bennett [00:30:12]:
I had met her. It was fine. That was too much. Ripping my child out of the backseat, screaming and crying when he saw that he was being turned over to the babysitter instead of a mom or a dad. And luckily, thank goodness, my ex. Did he push back? Yes, because he was hurt, too. He wanted time with his son and prior, who took over that time, me. And then when he got home from work, he had him and pushed back on that rea1 hard. Took those extra days back because I was like, when you have the time off, I will give you the time.

Erica Bennett [00:30:43]:
When you are there. We can get to that 50/50. But until then, I’m not giving him over to a babysitter to sit there like he’s four. This is not working.

Erica Bennett [00:30:54]:
We had babysitters. Both sides use babysitters. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that being able to test that out sounds amazing. Sounds like such a great way to be like, hey, do we like what we’re agreeing to? Can we both live with this? Is it working for both our schedules? Okay, great. Let’s move forward. We also wrote in and I don’t know if this is standard, but we wrote in that each parent had one week of child-free vacation time where the other person had to take the child. And if they needed daycare, that person was responsible for it.

Erica Bennett [00:31:28]:
Because our situations was I could always move my schedule to mirror whatever the ex needed. So if he needed a vacation, that was fine. I worked a traditional corporate hour job. My child was in before and after care or was in daycare, but he didn’t. And so if I were to go on vacation, all of a sudden I got sent, oh, we had an extra 600, $700 in childcare to be able to handle that. And so we wrote in a clause that just said, that’s the other person’s responsibility. He could bring in a family member, he could take that vacation himself. But I wasn’t going to be penalized for getting one week of child-free vacation.

Kristen Goss [00:32:04]:
That’s interesting. I like that

Erica Bennett [00:32:06]:
We use that one a lot, like when he’s little because you’re not getting a break. He went to his dad’s two days a week. So having that ability to be like, I’m going to use my one week of child free. You’ve got to cover this week and of course, lots of advanced notice. Does this week work for you? Can we make this work? But still, it was super helpful to just alleviate the worry. Now he’s older, so now it doesn’t matter. Right now he’s twelve.

Erica Bennett [00:32:36]:
He’s like too cool in 7th grade and whatnot. But yeah, you can write what you want to write. And I think there are some interesting clauses that you can come up with. We had it in there too. The dog was supposed to go back and forth and the medical bills were supposed to be shared. And that unfortunately changed very quickly when the ex’s fiancé decided to get her own dog. And then this dog was no longer welcome. Right, but that’s just an example of how you make these agreements.

Erica Bennett [00:33:05]:
Could I have gone back and fought for it? Yes, but instead I chose. And I was like, well. And he’s like, I don’t get any of the benefit of having our dog anymore. Why am I paying for it? And I was like, that’s valid. So I’m going to do my best to support that. But yeah, it’s always interesting, you guys, you can write up whatever you want to write up. The last question I have is, I think lots of people listening would be like, yes, that is what I want. My ex would never have partnered with me on that.

Erica Bennett [00:33:33]:
When doesn’t it work? When do you just go like, this is not going to be a solution and we need to do something else?

Kristen Goss [00:33:39]:
That is a great question and I hear that a lot. I would like to preface it by saying collaborative is not something where everybody is sitting around and agrees on everything and seeing Kumbaya in full tans. It is hard. What I would say is people have to be committed to the process. You don’t have to agree on everything. You could even hate the other person, but you have a level of understanding, knowing that it’s not always going to be like this. And I’m doing this for my health, for my sake. And as long as you’re willing to commit to the process with the support of the team, the professionals, leaning on them as much as possible, for legal advice, for the financial piece, for the mental health piece, whatever you need.

Kristen Goss [00:34:31]:
And trusting each other, trusting the team, that is what makes the difference. And it isn’t for everyone. And I would say if you have someone that is not willing to be open and honest and transparent about their feelings about the finances, that’s a red flag. Because transparency and open and honesty is a key piece to a successful collaborative process. And holding each other accountable, those two things, if you don’t have that one or the other is missing, then those are red flags that it will likely not work.

Erica Bennett [00:35:11]:
Yeah, that’s so crucial even for myself to understand, is that it’s not like collaborative doesn’t mean like, hey, great, we are happy, we’re friends, we’re a little pissed and we’re hurt, but we can sit at the same table and decide everything in a meeting. That it really is more just about saying, I have a whole team of people that are going to help us one by one, make the decisions that need to be made so that I’m taken care of, so the kids are taken care of, so that my ex is taken care of, and that if you’re committed to that, it’s not that we’re committed to being best friends, it’s not that we’re committed to doing everything together, but you’re committed to trying to come up with. It’s almost like the third alternative. Instead of just fighting on every single thing, can we bring up every topic and then take the time and the space that we need to figure out? How can we come to a solution that works for everybody?

Kristen Goss [00:36:06]:
Exactly. That’s beautiful.

Erica Bennett [00:36:08]:
I love that. I hope more people start to explore it. I hope more people are open to it. Because again, you guys, you don’t know what you don’t know. And this is a hard process. And so I love being able to lean into experts who have been there, done that, the people who have the experience, so that I don’t have to worry about it. I can absolutely make the decisions, but I don’t have to do all the research. I just have to tune into how does it feel to make that decision? What do I really want out of this? Why do I want what I want out of this? And is this fair? Is this work for both people so that neither one of us are being hurt in the process? Yeah, I love it.

Erica Bennett [00:36:52]:
Well, this is such a good, powerful talk on the business side of divorce and how it kind of blends over a way to merge the two instead of just being business and filing the paperwork or just doing the emotional work. Is there anything else you wanted listeners to know, or how would they find somebody? Is it just something they can google now, or is there like a website that people should go to if they’re looking for a lawyer who focuses more on collaborative?

Kristen Goss [00:37:18]:
Great question. Unfortunately, collaborative is not something that has been enacted in every state. Most states. I’m in Florida, and so anyone in Florida can search That’s the Florida Academy of collaborative Professionals. And you have a list throughout the state, depending on the area that you’re in. There are also local practice groups that, for example, I’m in South Florida. I’m part of three separate South Florida local practice groups that you can find.

Kristen Goss [00:37:54]:
So you can just Google Broward county collaborative professionals or Miami collaborative professionals, and the websites will pop up. But as a whole, in the state of Florida, it’s

Erica Bennett [00:38:09]:
Yeah. So I think, you know, Google will be your best friend on this. And then again, it’s about interviewing lawyers. I met with a bunch till I found the one that felt like the right fit. For me, it’s not about who’s good, who’s bad. It just was like, this is the one that felt like the right fit. This is the one that was the one that gave the right support or the knowledge or the education I was looking for. And again, I found mine just by searching collaborative divorce.

Erica Bennett [00:38:30]:
Most of them, if that’s something that they work on, have it in their bio or their listings of their services, and thank God Google will just auto sort all that stuff for us nowadays.

Kristen Goss [00:38:43]:
Yeah, I like what you said, too, about interviewing because I think that’s extremely important. You have to feel comfortable with who it is you’re having, representing and advocating for you. And like you said, it’s not like a good or bad or a good attorney, but I boil it down to personality. A lot of times, personality just has to mesh.

Erica Bennett [00:39:05]:
Yeah. And it can be. I’ll say, too, on that. Like, I’ve had to hire two different lawyers. I hired my first one who helped us through the process, and then when things were not going smoothly and I had to take him back because he was not following any of the agreements, and we moved into mediation, I hired a very different lawyer for that. I went from a female lawyer to a male lawyer. I went to a lawyer who was very quick but also very thorough and also called him out on his shit. There was not going to be a whole lot of holding space.

Erica Bennett [00:39:33]:
And in fact, we did mediation twice. We went. The first time I had my original lawyer, the ex refused to even participate because the fiancé wasn’t allowed in the room.

Kristen Goss [00:39:43]:
Oh, gosh.

Erica Bennett [00:39:44]:
They were going to have their own room. And you could just see the mediator was like, we don’t really know what to say to you right now. They’re looking at me and they’re like, we’ve never had somebody do this. They have their own room. They can talk through their own stuff. You have your own room. But she was adamant that she had a seat at that table, and so they walked out, and we never got through it. And so the second time we went back, I had hired a different lawyer.

Erica Bennett [00:40:08]:
I was like, we got to move into a little bit more, calling them out on stuff because they’re going to try to pull a lot..

Erica Bennett [00:40:15]:
So I don’t need somebody as emotionally supportive. I need somebody who’s going to hold us to the agenda that we have set and get this to move somewhere. So you might have a few different lawyers, depending on if you have to go back and forth. But it’s always about, to me, it was about finding the one that I knew when I met with them, I’d be like, yeah, I think they could get this for me. But something just didn’t feel right, or it just didn’t feel as comfortable, or whatever it is, find the one that feels good and then speak up for your needs. Well, thank you. Yeah. Thank you for joining us today.

Erica Bennett [00:40:50]:
Thank you guys for listening in. Of course, if you want to figure out where you are in your divorce process, you can always go to and take the Finding Your Way Forward quiz. So super fun quiz. Ten questions, helps you understand where are you at in the divorce process and then how to move forward from there. So you guys give yourself grace, take some time for yourself, and we’ll be back with another episode.

Erica Bennett [00:41:20]:
And that’s it. Another great episode of the Crazy Ex Wives Club, a podcast for women learning how to heal from their divorce. Tune in next week for more advice and tips to help you figure out life after divorce. And until then, give yourself grace. Do the best you can and know that this is all part of the process. Think.

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