This article is the second part of an article exploring the collaborative divorce process in Arizona using the full team approach. Arizona Collaborative Divorce Process – Part 1
3. Child Specialist. The parties jointly retain a mental health professional to act as a child specialist. The child specialist acts as a neutral representative of the children’s needs. This professional has training to work with children and family going through divorces. If the children are old enough, the specialist meets with the children to understand their needs and desires. The specialist conveys what is best for the children to the parents and helps the parents define a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests. Unlike the litigated case, what is best of the children is a central focus. The parents gain the ability to understand how their decisions impact the children and make choices accordingly. The children, in turn, feel heard and understood and feel safe and supported. The children have an opportunity to ask questions and have a voice.
The parents also benefit. Instead of allowing their children to become victims of an acrimonious divorce, the parents get to work with a professional to make life-changing decisions. As every child is different, this professional allows the parties to consider unique needs and concerns. The child specialist also helps the parents discuss future conflicts and how to best address them.
4. Case Manager. One of the professionals also acts as a case manager, who schedules meetings, prepares agendas and minutes and otherwise keeps the process moving forward. Generally the case manager is one of the coaches.
The team works together toward a common purpose, which is the best outcome for everyone. The team works to develop common interests and goals. By having a team, both parties are on equal ground and have the support to make decisions in everyone’s best interests. Also, the team is equipped to gather the information necessary for the parties to make their best decisions.
In a litigated divorce, an attorney generally handles all roles to some extent – providing emotional support to clients, and reviewing financial records, for example. With the full team approach, arguably each role is handled by the most skilled professional.
While some professionals will not practice collaborative law outside of a team approach, others are comfortable with either just using collaborative attorneys or only certain other professionals. Sometimes that is an economic decision.
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.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260