For the last 26 years, savvy couples have found a newer, kinder and gentler, way to divorce – and keep their private and confidential business private and confidential – without having to go to court or allowing a judge make decisions for them. Collaborative divorce offers an alternative dispute resolution with you, the couple, making your own decisions. You each have an attorney, to advocate for you, both collaborative attorneys, committed to working in a civil and respective manner to allow couples to reach an Agreement acceptable to both.
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) now has more than 5,000 collaborative divorce professionals who provide services in 25 countries. In New Jersey, where I practice, collaborative divorce professionals take pride in being in the vanguard of helping couples dissolve their partnership/marriage in a non-adversarial manner to preserve the sanctity of the family they have created.
Finding Collaborative Divorce Professionals for Your Team
Couples seeking a divorce should ask self-proclaimed “collaborative” attorneys and other divorce professionals if they are members of the IACP and what specific training in the collaborative method they have taken. There are eight collaborative practice groups throughout New Jersey, for example. One of those, the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey, requires members to have 40 hours of mediation training – an important, relevant skill set – in addition to training in collaborative divorce. Its members have continued advanced education throughout each year to expand and update their skills.
A collaborative divorce team often includes a a financial professional and a mental-health professional, both of whom work as neutrals in the process.
Licensed collaborative financial professionals help protect the family’s interests by reviewing a couple’s assets, debts, income, and cash-flow to help them develop viable options for the future that will work for both parties. They are skilled not only in dealing with numbers but are also trained to do their work in the emotionally-charged atmosphere of couples dissolving their marriages.
The Role of the Mental-Health Professional
Licensed mental-health professionals may serve as a facilitator to help diminish any animosity that could threaten to derail the process. They also function as a divorce coach to help individuals and couples cope with the emotional obstacles that are part and parcel of ending a marriage.
Another key member is a child specialist: a licensed clinical mental-health professional who works with children to cope with the impact of having their family come apart. The child specialist meets with parents first and then the children to understand their needs, fears, and wishes. Children don’t always share their feelings with parents because they don’t want to further upset or anger them. The child specialist’s role is brief and focused.
Although the facilitator, coach, and child specialist are licensed mental-health professionals, they are not offering therapy in these roles. If that seems warranted, they would refer the divorcing client to another professional. However, they do utilize their clinical skills to guide parents and their children in navigating the muddy waters of the family in crisis. Divorce is such an emotionally intense experience, for all, having professionals with specific skills in this area can offer priceless guidance toward helping each family member progress.
The Right Divorce Professional for the Job
In the collaborative divorce process, each professionals has specific areas of expertise to offer that are best suited to clients’ needs and pocketbooks. For example, a couple would not pay attorney fees for dealing with emotional, communication, or parenting issues. Instead, mental-health professionals – at a lower fee – would be best suited to deal with such concerns and situations. The collaborative team is an experienced grouping, with each professional utilizing and sharing their specific expertise to help other team members, when appropriate, to offer a more comprehensive way of addressing the multitude of situations that can arise. Rather than letting things fall apart, the team strives to present a wellness approach for the future of the family.
Why Choose a Collaborative Divorce?
- Collaborative professions work to help couples resolve issues in a more positive way and can be more cost effective.
- Keeping out of the courtroom offers more privacy which is much desired by couples with high worth or public profiles.
- There is no judge involved who has to review the documents of scores of people so you benefit from more personal attention.
- You work directly with collaborative professionals who are dedicated to helping you both to create a plan that works best for your family’s needs.
- Convenience. There is no court schedule, or costly cancellations. Collaborative professionals work around your time frames and respect your emotional readiness to continue – or take a breather – when needed.
A team of divorce experts, with specialized training and experience, efficiently addresses your family situation.
- The collaborative way helps you protect your children from the potentially damaging fallout of a “messy” divorce. The goal is to preserve parent’s mutual respect to ensure cooperative co-parenting, crucial to children’s well-being.
- After the divorce is over, some team members are available to advise on post-divorce situations or to revise any aspect of the final agreement.
Your marriage may be coming apart, but you and your soon-to-be ex can still preserve what you created together – your family – in two homes, using the collaborative divorce process. When it’s time to come apart – especially if you have children – collaborative divorce allows you to come apart “together.”
Sharon Klempner (MSW, LCSW, BCD) offers therapy for children, adolescents, adults, and couples in addition to serving as a collaborative coach and child specialist, stepfamily counselor, and reunification therapist. www.sharonklempner.com
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