A. Generally. Collaborative divorce is a method of resolving a family law issue through cooperative means with an agreement to not litigate the case and to disclose information voluntarily. If the parties later choose to litigate, they cannot not use the same professionals they used in the collaborative process. While the term “collaborative divorce” is used, the process can be used for a number of family issues, including post-decree matters, paternity matters and guardianships.
B. What Is An Interdisciplinary Team?
Collaborative Divorce can be completed with just collaboratively trained attorneys (whose role is described in the following article) or with select professionals. In an interdisciplinary team approach, the team generally includes the following team members (in addition to the attorneys), who are all trained in collaborative divorce:
1. Collaborative Divorce Coach. Each party has his/her own divorce coach. The coach is a licensed mental health professional, but he/she does not provide therapy or otherwise treat his/her client. The coach helps the participants manage conflict, the emotions surrounding the process and communication. The coach also helps his/her client determine his/her goals and emotional barriers to settlement, understand the both parties’ concerns, develop strategies for optimal communication, lower anxiety, increase receptiveness to settlement, identify priorities, expand options and work through roadblocks to settlement. The coach also helps in developing co-parenting skills and creating a parenting plan. Whereas the task of emotionally supporting clients tends to fall on attorneys in a litigated case, in the collaborative process, the clients have someone better equipped to handle that.
2. Financial Specialist. The parties share this neutral professional. The financial specialist helps the parties collect and understand their financial options in a divorce. This professional identifies the parties’ goals and concerns and then organizes the financial data and creates and analyzes options for property division and debt division. The professional also helps with the analysis of income and factors related to spousal maintenance. The professional also helps the parties identify and evaluate tax consequences and develop budgets and long range financial goals. The financial specialist must be a certified financial planner, certified divorce financial analyst, certified divorce planner, and/or certified public accountant. Because this professional will discuss a lot of the more perplexing and difficult issues with the parties (money), and because people often have unrealistic financial expectations, facilitation skills are useful.
Alona M. Gottfried is a family law mediator, collaborative divorce attorney and litigation attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or email@example.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
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Scottsdale, AZ 85260