Many divorcing couples opt for collaborative divorce over mediation because they like having the structure of negotiating their agreements with their legal representatives’ immediate involvement as well as that of other professionals they may bring in, like financial or child specialists trained in working with spouses using collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce, unlike a litigated divorce, minimizes court involvement. The couple makes their own decisions with the guidance of their teams. It also allows them to keep their divorce private and confidential because it’s not playing out in a courtroom with all sorts of documents filed and testimony presented that can potentially become public record.
While each spouse needs to have their own legal representative who is trained and experienced in collaborative divorce, they have the option to hire neutral specialists who advise both of them. You may find it to your advantage to have your own financial specialist since you’re working toward a property division and possibly a spousal support agreement that is in your best interest.
What do these child specialists do?
Many couples, however, hire a child specialist whom they both work with to develop a parenting plan that’s in their child’s best interests. Collaborative divorce child specialists are typically mental health professionals who talk to the child to determine what their concerns are. They find out how they feel about their parents’ divorce and how their parents’ anger and stress is affecting them.
They also gain insight into what is concerning the child about their life after divorce. A child may be more comfortable sharing their feelings with an empathetic third party than with their parents.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that parents have to follow their child’s wishes as they work out a custody agreement and parenting plan. However, they can better explain their decisions and reassure their child if they understand what they are most concerned about.
In addition to having an amicable, cooperative divorce process, an advantage of collaborative divorce is that it’s typically less expensive than a litigated divorce. If you don’t want to bring in other professionals and prefer to limit the process to the two of you and your legal representatives, that’s fine. It’s wise, however, to understand whom you can bring in and whether it’s worthwhile to do so.