What is Collaborative Divorce? How to Get Referrals From Attorneys with Randy Pitler | PoP 496

What is Collaborative Divorce? How to Get Referrals From Attorneys with Randy Pitler | PoP 496

Do you know what collaborative divorce is? How can you get involved as a therapist in the collaborative divorce process? Want to know how to work with attorneys in getting referrals?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks to Randy Pitler about what Collaborative Divorce is, and how to get referrals from attorneys.

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Meet Randy Pitler

Randall B. Pitler is a family law attorney who believes the decisions in a divorce should
be made by the parties, not by a Judge or other third party. Based on this belief, he
founded Pitler Family Law & Mediation, P.C. in 2004 to assist parties who wish to
divorce amicably. The firm focuses on Collaborative divorce, mediation, and
uncontested divorces.

Mr. Pitler has been a pioneer in Michigan for limited scope representation. He serves on
the Family Law Council for the State Bar of Michigan, was appointed to a Michigan
Supreme Court committee to draft Court Rules for newly enacted Collaborative Law
statutes. He a past president of the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan; has
served as a guest lecturer at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and presents to numerous
community organizations. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1988 and
University of Detroit School of Law in 1992.

Visit his website and connect on Facebook. Contact Randy at 248.584.0400

In This Podcast


  • What is collaborative divorce?
  • What makes a good divorce coach?
  • Receiving payment as a divorce coach
  • Networking and referrals

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a model that keeps divorces out of court. If any party decides to break the collaborative process, the attorneys will withdraw, and the divorce will go to court making it costly – both financially and emotionally. In the late-90s, an added interdisciplinary model was included whereby medical professionals (divorce coaches) and financial planners joined the process.

Traditional 2-Coach Model

Each party gets their own divorce coach who they speak to outside of the process. A divorce coach is someone trained in mental health and who helps people deal with emotional issues specific to the divorce process behind the scenes.

I’m always careful to remind people that this is not therapy, it’s not marriage counseling, but as you know there are emotional issues with a divorce.

Single Coach Model

One divorce coach is used by both parties so that they can work on communication issues. In Randy’s practice, they also use a divorce coach as a “Case Manager.” This role entails all communication so that all information is disseminated by a neutral divorce coach.

There are going to be some hot issues that come up [in a divorce meeting] and to me it’s really helpful to have that person [divorce coach] kind of already sitting at the head of the table who can jump in and help manage, you know, whatever comes up.

What makes a good divorce coach?

To me, collaborative divorce is actually more difficult than litigated divorces because you are thinking about the emotions. And usually the mental health person in the room is feeling kind of the brunt of all that.

If you’d like to add ‘divorce coach’ to your practice offerings, you’ll need the following:

  • Qualifications: Randy only uses licensed therapists or psychologists due to the nature of the job.
  • Find out what people really want: As a mental health professional, you are able to navigate emotions are find out what people truly want and what their motivations are. You work alongside the collaborative divorce lawyers to find ways to settle the divorce amicably.
  • Commitment: Being a divorce coach is not easy.
  • Be comfortable having tough conversations
  • You also must be comfortable being the center of attention and grabbing the bull by the horns.

Receiving payment as a divorce coach

Randy says that every professional is paid separately by the parties according to an hourly rate. This rate can be significantly higher than what a mental health professional would charge their regular clients as they recognize that their work is equally valuable to that of the attorneys. In other jurisdictions, the parties pool money for the professionals which is divvied up separately, or there is a flat fee.

Networking and referrals

Every single conversation you have with any human being is networking.

Randy believes that as a mental health professional, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell people what you do, as the more you tell, the more likely they are of referring business.

Below are Randy’s networking and referral tips:

1. Specialize

Instead of listing all the areas you’re interested in on a brochure, specialize in one thing, as this makes it easier for attorneys to refer clients to you for specific issues.

2. Snail Mail

I’m actually a really big fan of snail mail solicitations because they stand out these days.

3. Face-to-face meetings

Randy often sends out newsletters and meets with therapists in their offices to find out more about their specialty and what kind of patients they are looking for. This has helped him develop a list of therapists to refer to.

4. Explain how you can save the attorney’s time

Suppose the attorneys in your area are litigators and do not understand mental health, how do you approach them to refer clients to you? Explain how you make their lives easier and save them from listening to their clients getting emotional. You help their clients get to a better place and ready them for the divorce process which in turn, helps the attorney.

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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