Collaborative divorce offers a more needs based assessment, in which the emotional component is addressed and the parties are encouraged to get creative in reaching a final agreement. The process is aimed at not only divorcing the parties and allowing them to move on, but the healing process often required to do so, for all parties involved, including the children.
In order to adequately address the parties’ financial and emotional needs and goals, a collaborative team is drafted, always consisting of the clients and their attorneys. It should be noted that only collaboratively trained and certified attorneys can practice in the area of collaborative law. In order to properly address financial issues and focus on emotional healing for the parties and the children, other team member professionals may be brought into the process including:
* A neutral financial specialist to help the parties in gathering all necessary financial documentation and work with the parties and their lawyers to clearly identify and address the present and future financial implications of possible settlement options.
* A neutral child specialist to help the parties develop a thoughtful parenting plan for the children as well as address concerns the children may be having. This mental health professional’s role is not to make decision for the parties but to help them identify current and long-term emotional issues associated with children and the divorce process.
* Divorce coach(es) for each spouse. Usually this role is played by a mental health professional who is concentrated on helping the parties address current emotional concerns and develop the skills necessary to be able to communicate and work together in the future—especially where there are children involved.
The divorce attorneys work together with the divorcing parties to identify just what team members will be essential to the collaborative process and which collaboratively trained professional in the community best suits the parties’ needs.
A true collaborative setting requires full transparency throughout the process and a commitment to keep the matter out of Court. If at any time one party decides to leave the collaborative process, both parties’ attorneys are disqualified for future representation.
Collaborative law is aimed at addressing the whole person, the whole client, knowing that divorce is so much more than division of things.