Experienced practitioners of Collaborative Divorce understand the important contributions made by a Family Specialist (also called a “Divorce Coach”) during the process. They maintain a respectful tone, facilitate communications, counsel couples about parenting plans that cater to a child’s developmental requirements, the needs and well-being of their family, assist with co-parenting issues, and manage the process as a neutral. The written protocols of our regional organization, the New York Association for Collaborative Professionals (NYACP), clarify that “best practice” is interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce with a Family Specialist as part of the process.
However, couples seeking a Collaborative Divorce do not always understand the important contributions of the Family Specialist, and mistakenly believe that since they or their children have a therapist or have been in therapy such an expert is not needed. Even though the Family Specialist is always a licensed mental health practitioner with many years experience, s/he is additionally specifically trained in divorce, mediation, collaborative practice and child development. Credible Family Specialists are vetted annually by the NYACP, who oversees that there have been significant continuing education hours in Collaborative Divorce. This specialized training and experience streamlines the divorce process and saves time and money.
Imagine you are having cardiac symptoms and you have found an excellent cardiac surgeon. However, this surgeon says that during the operation, not only will s/he perform the bypass, but will also administer the anesthesia. You would be right to reject an operation with such a surgeon because you realize how import it is to the outcome to use experts in their area of expertise. Neither your divorce attorney, nor your individual or family therapist has the knowledge or experience in all the areas needed to craft a parenting plan which takes into account your particular family dynamics. Your therapist is probably not a trained mediator, and is certainly not trained in Collaborative practice. Your lawyer isn’t an expert in communications and should be able to focus on legal issues, and not the emotional issues that become obstacles to settlement discussions.
In order to have a smoother, more efficient and effective divorce process during one of the most distressing periods in one’s life, the use of a Family Specialist expert makes all the difference. You and your children do not need to be scarred by a toxic divorce process; particularly since you want nothing more for your children than for them to feel that they will always have a mother and father in this world who love them and will put their needs ahead of all else.