The Interdisciplinary Collaborative Team Model is a multi-disciplinary team approach to dispute resolution, which includes attorneys, mental health professionals, a financial specialist (financial neutral), and when there are minor children, a child specialist working interactively as equals. Team members share the same core values and philosophy, consistent with the International Association of Collaborative Professionals ethical guidelines. Team members pledge they will not be involved in any court litigation concerning an assigned Collaborative Practice case. All members agree they will withdraw from the case if the parties drop out and decide to pursue litigation.
Parties choose all Collaborative Practice team members at the beginning of your case. The team is ideally made up of each spouse, and two Collaborative lawyers, one for each party; two divorce coaches, one for each individual; a child specialist who represents the voice of the child(ren); and one neutral financial specialist.
A divorcing couple can enter into the Collaborative Process through first contacting any member of the team. It is most common to first contact an attorney, but not required. For example, a spouse might first contact a licensed family therapist, or seek advice from their licensed financial professional about their circumstances.
Parties will work with a divorce coach on improving your communication skills as well as learn self-management and negotiation skills to help you during the divorce process. A party’s divorce coach will develop the knowledge needed to participate in successful meetings, including:
- How to communicate your concerns effectively
- How to maintain respect and dignity for all parties in the process
- How to discuss parenting and custody options
- How to develop a parenting plant and navigate your co-parenting partnership
The Child Specialist
During this process, the child specialist talks with the parties and meets with their child or children to assess their needs and concerns. The child specialist also assists the parents to recognize and address their child’s needs, and give the children a way to communicate their concerns and fears, allowing children to have a voice in the divorce process. The child specialist is not a custody evaluator and makes no specific recommendations. Instead, he or she will work with the divorce coaches and with the parties to help you make informed, intelligent, and compassionate decisions in the children’s best interests. The information the child specialist shares is essential for the family’s emotional well-being and helps lay the foundation for a healthy future.
With the information received from the child specialist, the parties and the divorce coaches will create a parenting plan, which is then incorporated into the final divorce document. It can be as flexible and creative as needed as long as everyone agrees to all provisions, unlike the type of parenting plans sometimes imposed by the courts.
The neutral financial specialist is a credentialed professional (Certified Public Accountant, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Certified Financial Planner), who meets with both the parties, and helps begin discussing financial issues and concerns post-divorce. He or she will assist in gathering all the necessary financial information including all important financial records. The financial specialist works closely with both spouses and their respective lawyers to understand their current financial standing and to help determine the potential financial consequences of various possible divorce settlement options. This information and the various options may be discussed in a meeting involving the financial specialist, both Collaborative lawyers, and the parties. The parties control the outcome and work with the attorneys to create a financial settlement that meets the specific needs and circumstances.
Sometimes a case manager coordinates this process. This role is often assigned to the financial professional, who keeps all Collaborative team members informed and the process on track.
This integrated model provides you with the specific services and advice you need from the trained professional most qualified to address your specific divorce issues, with attention on those issues of greatest concern and priority to you. Working together, Collaborative professionals help divorcing couples achieve an outcome that would not be possible without everyone working together.
Best of all, this Collaborative team approach can work when negotiating civil disputes other than divorces and termination of domestic partnerships