A collaborative divorce occurs when two spouses are able to work out an agreement without going to divorce court. It helps them achieve their goal of becoming divorced, while also helping them adapt, cope, and ready themselves for the next chapter in life. The collaborative divorce team pays careful attention to the psychological and emotional well-being of all parties involved. While this may be the best route to take when considering a divorce, it can still be a very difficult and confusing time in life, especially for any children involved. This process is new to them, and they probably don’t understand what is going on. It also doesn’t help that the majority of parents are unsure of how to talk to their children about the divorce. Fortunately, the collaborative divorce process offers someone to effectively help the children through the process.
The Child Specialist
The Child Specialist is one of two neutral members on the collaborative divorce team (the other being the Financial Specialist). Their job is to meet with the children, get to know them, and understand how they are feeling. The children are given a clear and defined “voice” in the process through the Child Specialist. This voice can empower them, helping them to feel confident, comfortable, and connected in the process. Ordinarily a very scary and confusing time in the life of the children, the divorce process can become tolerable, and often easier to handle, through the use of a Child Specialist.
The Child Specialist has two main roles in the divorce process. The first is to meet with the children and learn what their questions, fears, and concerns are and what they are struggling with as it relates to the divorce. By taking some of the stress away, they are able to earn the trust of the children. This allows the children to be open and honest. The Child Specialist doesn’t ask the children which parent they would rather live with, as this could put the children in the middle of the parents’ issues.
The other main role of the Child Specialist is to keep the parents informed. They bring the needs of the children into focus, informing decisions and choices made by the parents on a custody and child sharing plan that is in the best interests of the children. The Child Specialist will also help the parents know what to expect from their children based on their age and stage of development. They will help answer and questions the parents or children have about divorce and any immediate decisions that need to be made, without recommending or deciding on issues of custody.
The important thing to remember is that a legal attorney is not trained to help explain to parents how their children are handling the divorce, what their concerns are, or any effects that the divorce may have on their lives. The Child Specialist can help with all of this, and make the divorce process easier for both the parents and the children.