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To Divorce or Not to Divorce? What to do with this Question.

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

As a Collaborative Divorce Attorney, I have seen many clients who are ambivalent about getting a divorce. How do I know they are ambivalent? Because, in addition to the story they tell me, I ask potential clients to take the following survey:

Even though divorce is a legal process, your emotions and your perspective on divorce, and those of your spouse, are very important and cannot be separated from the legal process. To assist me in beginning to understand your views about proceeding with divorce, please answer the following questions.

1.  People have different attitudes towards their divorce. Please check which of these statements most closely fits your own attitude right now.

(   )       I'm done with this marriage; it's too late now even if my spouse were                            to make major changes.

(   )       I have mixed feelings about the divorce; sometimes I think it's a good                          idea and sometimes I'm not sure.

(   )       I would consider reconciling if my spouse got serious about making                               major changes.

(   )       I don't want this divorce, and I would work hard to get us back together.

2.  Readiness for Divorce

People come to the divorce process with different degrees of readiness to divorce. Some may not want the divorce and are not emotionally prepared to participate in the process, while others have been ready for some time and feel impatient to get things moving. And there is a wide range of feelings in between. Please rate yourself on the scale below by circling the number that best describes your readiness for divorce today. 

0        1         2         3         4        5        6        7        8         9         10


I'm absolutely not                                                          I'm ready to move                           ready for this divorce                                                    forward immediately

This survey was created by a group of collaborative divorce attorneys working with Dr. William Doherty of the University of Minnesota. After giving this survey to people whose divorces had already been filed in court (Hennepin County, Minnesota), it was determined that in 12.6% of the filed divorce cases bothspouses in the marriage were not sure they wanted the divorce!

This led to the recognition that there was a failure to provide services to this group of people. That has now been corrected. Couples who are ambivalent about divorce can now gain clarity about whether to move forward with a divorce or to move forward with a plan to restore the marriage to health. This clarity is achieved through specialized counseling called Discernment Counseling. Discernment Counseling is a focused, short-term process involving no more than 4 to 6 sessions. A Discernment Counselor helps the couple…

  1. gain clarity and confidence about what steps to take next with their marriage;
  2. understand what has happened to their marriage;
  3. look at problems from the perspective of each spouse;
  4. determine whether past counseling has been helpful or not so helpful;
  5. evaluate the possibility of solving their problems and restoring their marriage to health; and
  6. make a joint decision about whether or not to move towards divorce.

The clients I see who are ambivalent about divorce are greatly relieved to know this service exists. It provides them with a structured process where both parties can join in the decision of what to do about the marriage. If the couple decides to try to restore the marriage to health, they move to specialized counseling to create a plan for that to happen. If the couple decides to end the marriage, they are in a much better place to undertake a constructive and peaceful divorce. For more information about Discernment Counseling and to find a Discernment Counselor please go to and

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!