Roles of the Collaborative Practice Professionals
The Collaborative process helps a divorcing couple achieve an effective resolution, while minimizing the negative consequences often associated with divorce. To accomplish this goal, different disciplines work together in a team, integrating the legal, emotional, and financial aspects of divorce.
As a participant in the process, you have made a commitment to:
- Achieve a divorce settlement without going to court.
- Fully and promptly disclose all relevant financial information.
- Devote adequate time for participation in the process.
- Resolve issues in an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, and integrity.
The composition of your Collaborative team will be structured to meet your needs. Members of your Collaborative team will assist you by performing some or all of the functions listed below.
The Collaborative Divorce Lawyers
Each represents the best interests of the client while working within the Collaborative process. Each lawyer:
- Educates and counsels the client.
- Helps the client identify and assess the client’s needs as well as those of the other party.
- Helps the client explore realistic alternatives to meet the client’s needs.
- Assists the parties in managing conflict.
- Helps create the Collaborative team.
- Works collaboratively with the other lawyer and the team.
- Serves as a case manager, unless the team includes a mediator.
- Assists the parties in implementing agreements.
- Has a duty to terminate the process if a client fails to adhere to the Collaborative Practice Participation Agreement.
The Collaborative Mediator
The Collaborative mediator is a neutral facilitator, who:
- Helps the parties identify the issues they will work on during team meetings.
- Facilitates communication during team meetings.
- Helps the parties and attorneys decide which participants to add to the Collaborative team.
- Serves as a case manager, often essential to keeping the process moving forward toward resolution.
- Drafts the settlement agreement.
The Collaborative Divorce Coach
Each Collaborative divorce coach is a licensed mental health professional. Each coach will help one member of the couple:
- Navigate the emotional aspects of divorce.
- Identify and prioritize the client's concerns.
- Improve communication skills to minimize misunderstandings.
- Improve conflict resolution skills.
- Develop effective co-parenting skills.
- Participate as an effective member of the team.
The Child Specialist
The Collaborative divorce child specialist is a licensed mental health professional. The child specialist is a neutral member of the team who helps the parents:
- Focus on the needs of each child.
- Hear the concerns of each child, bringing the child’s voice into the process.
- Understand age-appropriate developmental issues, and how these will change over time.
- Explore options for appropriate parenting plans.
- Be effective co-parents.
The child specialist may also provide children with support and information about the divorce process.
The Collaborative Financial Coach
The Collaborative financial coach is a licensed financial professional who helps one member of the couple and the attorney:
- Understand the extent and value of the marital estate.
- Request financial documents.
- Understand the financial documents provided by the other spouse.
- Comply with requests to produce financial documents.
- Identify and prioritize financial needs.
- Create a realistic budget.
- Work on short and long range financial planning.
- Create and evaluate options for settlement.
- Understand tax consequences of settlement options.
- Participate as financially informed team members.
The Collaborative Financial Specialist
The Collaborative divorce financial specialist, a licensed financial professional, is a neutral member of the team who may:
- Assess the level of financial understanding of each spouse, and educate each accordingly.
- Identify financial issues specific to the case.
- Help each member of the couple manage financial expectations.
- Work as a neutral financial analyst, creating income and expense projections for the near and longer term.
- Interpret appraisals.
- Assist with the discovery process by gathering documentation of income, expenses, assets, and debts.
- As a neutral, provide some or all of the services listed above for the Financial Coach.