NAVIGATING THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
Sometimes people wonder how the interdisciplinary nature of the collaborative process works, and what role each of the professionals has in it to manage the variety of issues that surface during divorce.
The way I see it, one aspect of divorce is the untangling of a variety of relationships – legal, financial, emotional, relational, parental. Professionals in diverse areas of expertise help to address the different issues that need untangling. That includes financial professionals and mental health professionals.
Financial professionals help the parties understand their financial reality and introduce neutrality into an issue over which divorcing couples often disagree – their money. The element of neutrality a financial professional brings gives the parties an opportunity to see how various scenarios will play out, given what they expressed as important to them, without worrying if the other person has a hidden agenda in making one suggestion or another. Options can be evaluated without worry about whose idea it was.
Mental health professionals offer expertise in two possible capacities. One is as a child specialist. A child specialist meets with both children and parents, and gives feedback to the parents and the other collaborative professionals about what is most important for the child or children. They report on how children are coping, and provide parents with information that may help the children adjust and thrive throughout the divorce and the rest of their lives.
Other mental health professionals can assist parting spouses as divorce coaches – a divorce coach works with the parties to help them express themselves in the room while minimizing the conflict dynamic. This enables each party to communicate more effectively so that they each have the opportunity to speak their truths in a way that feels honest and authentic, and in a way that is more likely to be heard by the other person where they may not have been heard before. Sometimes people to choose to work with one neutral coach and sometimes two coaches – one for each spouse – is preferable.
Rather than pay the divorce lawyers – who usually have the highest hourly rate – to work out all of the different elements of a parties’ divorce, dividing it amongst professionals trained in specific areas, who can focus on particular issues, is more effective. The value of dollars spent will be greater because they are spent on professional services more targeted to the results the parties want and need. It’s possible it may also actually cost less as well.