Those of us who have been through training in the Collaborative process under the one coach model are familiar with the collaborative team. This team consists of an attorney for each party, a financial neutral, and a neutral facilitator. The team is designed to be complete, for each party to have representation, and the neutrals to be able to present unbiased information to each party. The truth is that this is not a complete team; at any team meeting the note-taker provides an essential role.

It might seem inconsequential because the note-taker is representing neither party, providing no information, and not facilitating the process. However, free from these responsibilities the note-taker’s job is to exclusively document. To put pen to paper or type feverishly on a laptop, record decisions made, agreements reached, and action items required to make additional decisions.

Attorneys, facilitators, and financials that have been heavily involved in the collaborative process recognize that there are times when it gets on a roll. One agrees with matters involving X and then the other agrees to the matter involving Y. The note-taker’s responsibility is to make sure it all gets recorded.

To be a successful note-taker here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Notes are only recorded at full team meetings. Taking notes at the professionals only meetings and any professional shadowing/profiling meetings could be helpful to learn but are not to be shared.

2. Notes from the full team meeting will be shared with the whole team. Be aware of and avoid positions and words or comments that could trigger an emotional response from the parties.

3. Notes can also be clarified in the debrief and are edited by all professionals. When the meeting starts moving and decisions are getting made quickly, try to get in as much detail as possible and “clean up” later.

4. Notes are needed to document discussions, homework, or next steps. It is not a dictation of the meeting. Decisions in the collaborative process are not final until the marriage settlement agreement is signed; be careful not to imply otherwise.

5. Note-takers are an important part of the process but should be more of an observer and recorder and should avoid interrupting the “flow”.

6. Notes organized in the same format as the agenda help document important discussion points and decisions.

A professional newly trained in the process and interested in developing a collaborative practice should consider volunteering to be a note-taker. The note-taker may be a new professional or someone new to the process but should certainly not be an outsider. Volunteering for this process is invaluable and a great way to learn. Be open to giving and receiving feedback and critiques on this and all roles in the collaborative process; it’s how we all learn.

Author: Rachel Fisch

If you would like to learn more about note-taking in the collaborative process, feel free to contact us to learn more.

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