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Life After a Collaborative Divorce: A Client’s Experience

Posted by Tonda Mattie | Mar 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Recently I received a LinkedIn endorsement from Christa, a client I represented in 2008 in her collaborative divorce.  In thanking her for her endorsement, I took the opportunity to ask her how she was doing.   With her permission, her response is reproduced below.   At the time of her divorce, Christa's two (2) daughters were 16 and 17, and Christa only worked part-time.

Hello Tonda,

How nice to hear from you!  Life has been good on my end.  I've move forward professionally and personally–continued to work in psychiatric research, first part-time and then, for the past 4 years full-time.  In addition, I've been building my private counseling practice, which led to 60+ work hours per week.  The practice is going well enough that I was able to resign my salaried position effective this November. It's not easy leaving a place that feels like a curious and lovable community, but for the sake of living a full life, choices needed to be made.

In October 2008, a mutual friend introduced me to a man who is now my husband.  He was married before and has 2 children–his son is the same age as my oldest daughter (23), and his daughter is 15.  We were married February last year (2013) on Key West.  Almost my entire family came over to be there for us–including some nieces and nephews.  It was lovely.

Two weeks later, my former husband got married as well to a woman he had been dating since our separation.

The girls are doing very well.  My oldest daughter will be graduating this coming spring with a major in education and mathematics.  My youngest daughter will graduate next December, and then plans to get her MA degree in child psychology.  After struggling with grades and transitions the first year, they have both become straight-A students.

My youngest daughter said something interesting the other day while we were driving.  She said, “Mom, I can't even imagine you and dad being together anymore; it's not like I don't remember, but you guys are so different, and all my friends can't even believe the two of you were ever married.  I mean, how did you make it work for so long?”

Today, both my daughters see the benefit of their parents having divorced and moved on.  My former husband seems happy, has a good relationship with his daughters and brought a great woman into his life.  I'm happy as well, and likewise have a wonderful connection with my daughters.  Both daughters are relieved they don't have to worry about either one of us, and both of them like our choice of new partners.

Everyone is well and happy.  I'm very grateful for the part you played in giving me the information and support I needed to take the step toward divorce that had frightened me so much.  Not once did I regret this transition.  I appreciate the divorce process was not hostile. You were calm, wise and nurturing when I was in the grips of anxiety. Sure, there were hurt feelings and it's very stressful going through this process.  However, it left two people free to move forward and build a meaningful life.  It also freed our children from the worry they had for parents who just could not be happy together.

So: thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

All the best,


About the Author

Tonda Mattie

What I do I represent clients going through a divorce or other family dispute who want a resolution process that addresses their highest goals and aspirations and is positive, future-oriented, and cost-effective.  I listen to find out what is truly important to my client.  I offer wise counsel and legal advice that is creative but practical, realistic, and far-sighted.  I support and challenge my client to bring his or her best self to the problem-solving and decision-making table.  I educate my client to empower him or her to make informed decisions and to gain the most from the collaborative process.  I work hard to transform conflict resolution into a healing process. What you get a holistic approach to conflict and dispute resolution empowerment to find creative solutions that meet the legal, relational (emotional), parenting, and financial needs of all family members honesty, trustworthiness, and respect to maximize benefits and minimize harm to all who are involved advocacy to ensure that your legitimate needs and interests are met the most useful, neutral, specialized advice from an interdisciplinary team of collaborative professionals and experts cost-effective and value-added use of professionals and experts a legal and financial plan, a relational plan, and a parenting plan no court involvement other than processing the final legal documents Who I am My name is Tonda Mattie, and my law firm is Tonda L. Mattie, P.A.  In my own small way I hope to contribute to world peace one family at a time.  This is a notion I could not have had before I met Stu Webb, my Minnesota colleague who is the founder of Collaborative Divorce and the Collaborative Process.  His profound concept of avoiding the adversarial court process altogether and focusing solely on settlement changed the way I viewed the practice of family law and my own career.  Now, my efforts on behalf of my clients have a positive impact not only on the short-term circumstances of their divorce or dispute but on their lives as well.  I am at last in a career where I can truly make a difference. Admitted to practice law 1983, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota 1979, Minnesota 1978, Illinois Education Southern Illinois University, J.D., 1978 University of Iowa, B.A. Psychology and Political Science, 1974 Practice history 2004 – present        : Collaborative Family Law 1992 – 2004: Family Law and Collaborative Family Law 1979 – 1992: Family Law and Employment Discrimination Memberships and awards Member, 1992 – present, President, 2005, and Board Member, Collaborative Law Institute, Minnesota Co-Chair, Training Committee, 2004 – present, Collaborative Law Institute, Minnesota Stu Webb Award, 2008, In Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Collaborative Practice Minnesota Super Lawyer, Collaborative Law, 2006 – present Minnesota State Bar Association Hennepin County Bar Association (Member, Family Law Section) Chrysalis Women's Center Advisory Board Tubman/Chrysalis Women's Center, Volunteer Collaborative and related training The NEW Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2011 Why Collaborative Practice Works: Neuroscience Tools & Techniques, Kimberly Fauss, Dr. Jan Hembree, 2010 Financial Intelligence, Financial Planning Assn., 2010 CLI Annual Conference, 2010 The NEW Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2010 Point Counter-Point: Collaborative & Cooperative Law, Linda Wray/Nancy Zalusky Berg, 2010 Advanced Mediation Skills, Nina Meierding, 2010 Addressing Domestic Violence, Dave Matthews, 2010 IACP Conference "Reflections & Visions," Minneapolis, 2009 The NEW Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2009 CLI Annual Conference, 2009 The Strategic Negotiator, Nina Meierding, 2008 IACP Conference "The Collaborative Community: Stepping Up and Reaching Out," New Orleans, 2008 "One Coach Model" of Collaborative Practice, Linda Solomon, 2008 2nd European Conference on Collaborative Practice, Cork, Ireland, 2008 The Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2008 Generating Collaboration with Empathy, Emily Gould, 2008 Deepening Your Skills in the Neutral Coach Model, Linda Solomon, 2008 Parenting Plans: Empowering Your Clients to Effective Co-Parenting, Deb Clemmensen/CLI, 2008 Cooperative Practice: A New Technique for Successful Case Negotiations, Prof. John Lande, 2008 CLI Annual Conference, 2007 "Pathways to a Good Divorce" The Children's Perspective, Dr. Constance Ahrons, 2007 Child Specialist Protocol Training, CLI, 2007 IACP Conference "The Collaborative Mosaic," Toronto, 2007 The Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2007 "Taking the War Out of Words," Sharon Ellison, 2007 Appreciative Inquiry for Team Building, Dr. Peggy Thompson, 2007 CLI Annual Conference "From Shallow Peace to Deep Resolution," Pauline Tessler, 2007 How to Calculate Child Support Under the New Law, MSBA, 2007 IACP Conference "The Care & Feeding of a Revolution," San Diego, CA, 2006 The Craft of Collaborative Law, Chip Rose video replay/Tonda Mattie, 2006 The Calling of Collaborative Practice, Dr. Susan Gamache, 2006 Effective Collaborative Communications, Dr. Susan Gamache, 2006 Basic Skills for Financial Professionals in the Collaborative Law Process, Tonda Mattie, Amy Wolff/CLI, 2006 Basic Skills for Coaches and Child Specialists in the Collaborative Law Process, Tonda Mattie, Deb Clemmensen, Terry Romonoff-Newman/CLI, 2006 The Craft of Collaborative Law, Chip Rose video replay/Tonda Mattie, 2006 The Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2006 Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice, Victoria Smith/Dr. Susan Gamach, Toronto, 2006 Advanced Collaborative Law, Chip Rose video replay/Tonda Mattie, 2005 Advanced Collaborative Law, Chip Rose, 2005 The Craft of Collaborative Law, Chip Rose video replay/Tonda Mattie, 2005 IACP Annual Conference "Coming of Age of Collaborative Practice," Atlanta, 2005 Mediation Training, Chris Leick, 2005 The Craft of Collaborative Law, Chip Rose, 2005 The Collaborative Experience, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2005 Build Your Skills-Develop Your Practice, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2004 The Nuts & Bolts of Collaborative Practice, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2004 Collaborative Practice Workshop, 2004 IACP Networking Forum, Boston, 2004 Intermediate Collaborative Law Training, CLI, 2004 IACP Networking Forum, Vancouver, 2003 Advanced Collaborative Law Training, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 2003 Intermediate Collaborative Law Training, Stu Webb/CLI, 2002 Basic Interdisciplinary Training, Pauline Tessler, Milwaukee, 2002 Interdisciplinary Divorce Team Training, 2000 Eliminating Bias in Collaborative Practice, CLI, 1999 Basic Collaborative Law Training, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 1998 Basic Interdisciplinary Training, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 1998 Basic Collaborative Law Training, Tonda Mattie/CLI, 1997 Basic Collaborative Law Training, Stu Webb/CLI, 1995 Mediation Training, Hamline Law School, 1995 Trainee and Presenter, Collaborative Law Training: Basic Collaborative Law Training, Stu Webb/CLI, 1993 Personal interests Movies, movies, movies Long distance bike touring Avid reader of everything Contact information Phone: 612-866-9066 Fax: 612-866-9379 Email Us The law office of Tonda L. Mattie, P.A. welcomes clients from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding Twin Cities area.


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Collaborative Practice

Tonda L. Mattie is a collaborative divorce attorney who abandoned the adversarial divorce process in favor of the collaborative approach more than 15 years ago. She brings more than 36 years of experience with divorce and family law to the settlement table.

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The law office of Tonda L. Mattie, P.C. welcomes clients from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding Twin Cities area. Contact Us Today!