Our Team Approach
We promote a team approach to divorce. The specific roles of the professionals available to serve on the Collaborative Divorce team are as follows:
Role of The Collaborative Family Law Attorney
Each party has a Collaborative family law attorney. In individual meetings with the client, and in joint meetings with the other attorney and the other party, each attorney will:
- Represent the best interests of his/her respective client while maintaining the overall goals of the Collaborative process.
- Work with the other attorney and the Collaborative team to help the parties design the settlement agreement that is most appropriate for their family.
- Facilitate the settlement discussion and incorporate client agreements into the final settlement documents.
- Prepare all the documents that need to be filed with the Court.
Role of the Collaborative Divorce Coach
Divorce Coaches are licensed, mental health professionals. In individual and joint meetings, the coaches work with the couple to:
- Identify and prioritize the concerns of each person.
- Make effective use of conflict resolution and communication skills.
- Develop effective co-parenting skills.
- Work collaboratively with the couple, their attorneys and the other involved professionals to improve communication, reduce misunderstandings and solve problems as they come up.
The Collaborative Divorce process demonstrates how a family can get through divorce in a more emotionally healthy way when the couple is able to learn to interact and communicate with each other in a more respectful, honest and open manner. Communication and self-management skills are taught to the parties by their coaches. The couple uses these new skills in their settlement discussions, and in their post-divorce co-parenting.
Role of the Child Specialist
The Collaborative team Child Specialist will work with the children and the parents to:
- Provide each child with an opportunity to voice his/her concerns regarding the divorce.
- Provide the parents with information and guidance to help their children through this process.
- Give information to the parties and the Collaborative team that will help the parties in developing an effective co-parenting plan for their children.
Role of the Financial Specialist
The Collaborative team Financial Specialist works with the couple to:
- Provide ongoing, practical financial guidance, planning, support, and budgeting advice throughout the divorce process.
- Assist with the discovery process by gathering and organizing documentation and information relating to the parties’ incomes, expenses, assets, and debts.
- Make sure both parties have a thorough understanding of their current financial situation.
- Educate the clients regarding the short and long-term economic consequences of settlement plans being considered, enabling them to make fully informed decisions and choose what is most appropriate for their situation.
The Collaborative Divorce process is controlled by the parties. It keeps the decision-making power where it belongs, with the people affected by the outcome. This is very different from a court process, where ultimately the court and state formulas decide what the divorce settlement and co-parenting arrangement will be. In the Collaborative Divorce model, the couple sets the agenda for their divorce, and they determine the settlement that is best for their family. The parties retain full decision making authority and control.
There are requirements for a Collaborative Divorce. Both parties must dedicate themselves to honesty, openness and a willingness to place the welfare of the entire family first. The desire to change ineffective communication patterns and the commitment to work at change is vital to a successful outcome. Communication training is as critical to the process as the legal and financial negotiations. If dysfunctional patterns are not changed, conflict persists. It is this focus on changing the couple’s way of interacting with each other that makes the Collaborative Divorce process a better approach to both divorce, and post-divorce co-parenting.
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