Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but collaborative divorce makes the process as painless and straightforward as possible. In collaborative divorce, a team of specially trained professionals helps couples terminate their marriage with respect, honesty, transparency and integrity ...
What is Collaborative Divorce?
without going to court.
When children are involved, there is a tremendous need for parents to stay focused on their sons and daughters’ best interests. Collaborative Divorce helps parents to do that by providing opportunities for them to learn problem-solving and communication skills. In doing so, parents create a template that they can use when future issues arise.
In a collaborative divorce, an attorney typically guides the process and educates the clients about the legal requirements and writes the final agreements. There is also a neutral financial specialist who helps the couple understand their unique financial situation and helps them to explore options for separating their assets taking into consideration short and long term benefits and risks.
As the mental health professional on a collaborative divorce team, I assume the role of divorce coach. My goal is to help my client manage the emotions that are inevitably triggered by this stressful life event. To that end, I assist the individual client in developing and enhancing communication skills that are useful in facilitating resolutions.
In certain cases of collaborative divorce, I assume the role of the neutral child specialist. In that role I focus on the needs, interests and concerns of the children. I can remain available after a divorce is final to help parents address their children’s’ changing needs and create new parenting plans for new situations.
Why is a team of professionals necessary?
Who is involved in a collaborative divorce team?
How are the team members selected?
Typically, the process begins with an attorney, and couples are encouraged to coordinate their search for a lawyer who is a “good fit”. Collaboratively trained attorneys share a similar philosophy, so neither spouse will feel compelled to hire an overly aggressive lawyer. Once the attorney is selected, the couple is encouraged to continue to hire the remaining members of their team. Coaches are selected individually and the two neutral team members are usually jointly hired. Sometimes, however a couple may enter the collaborative process by meeting first with a coach who can explain the process and assist the client in locating collaboratively trained professionals.
Is a collaborative divorce an appropriate choice for me?
Collaborative Divorce puts the couple in charge of the outcome. While a professional team guides the process, the couple makes the decisions. Ultimately, a couple should reflect on what matters most to them and choose the method of divorce which best matches their own values and best hopes for the divorce. Collaboratively trained professionals can assess a couple’s ability to work collaboratively.
How do I approach my husband or wife about collaborative divorce?
There are several ways to talk to your spouse about Collaborative Divorce. A collaboratively trained attorney or divorce coach can provide information about the process and direct you or your spouse to the appropriate resources for additional information. Some people may prefer to read about Collaborative Divorce before meeting a professional.
Can you recommend some useful readings or resources?
I recommend “The Collaborative Way to Divorce” by Ron Ousksy and Stu Webb, the founder of collaborative divorce, and “Collaborative Divorce” by Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thompson. Both books are useful resources to educate couples about collaborative divorce. Additionally, there are two websites that provide additional information. The first is the website for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, a global
Research has shown that it is not whether parents divorce that negatively impacts a child’s life, but how parents divorce. Working with a team of professionals increases the chances of reaching a resolution respectfully.
While some people choose to divorce independently, with minimal professional assistance or through mediation or litigation, collaborative divorce avoids the courtroom and offers the combination of legal, emotional and financial support that is missing from these other options.
The other website is for the Howard County Collaborative Professionals Group and can be accessed at
Both sites offer a listing of collaborative professionals in the area as well as educational resources for clients and professionals.
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