Collaborative Divorce is a problem-solving process instead of a conflict generating event. A Collaborative Divorce Coach (DC) or Mental Health Professional (MHP) takes on the role of helping parties to navigate through the complicated process of a termination of a marriage through assisting with preparation as well as identifying underlying issues and emotions that are present. The DC/MHP can meet with parties together or individually to discuss issues and preparation. They may assist the parties with addressing underlying emotional issues that may impede the progress and work with them to prepare ways of working through the emotions with effective communication to bring to the table for each collaborative team meeting. The DC/MHP can help the parties prepare for each meeting in the collaborative divorce process by prioritizing the issues and discussing ways to address concerns and feelings in the meetings.
If there are children involved, an MHP may also act as a Child Specialist (CS). Much like the Divorce Coach, the CS focuses on addressing underlying emotions, except in this role, it is from the children’s perspective. The CS has an opportunity to meet with the entire family and to talk with the children individually as well. Any meetings with the children usually take place at the CS’s office in a safe environment. The children do not attend settlement meetings. The CS remains neutral and talks with the child to provide recognition and support that children experience the divorce process in their own way, and their lives change as well. The CS has a chance to assess how the child feels about the divorce and the process and can then provide feedback to the parents and discuss the children’s needs. This exchange allows the parties to view and understand the issues from their children’s perspective, which may assist throughout the process.
Divorce is a painful process, but does not need to be an angry, conflictual process. Together we can navigate the emotional process, resolve any underlying issues within the relationship that could prevent positive co-parenting, and finally inspire growth to be able to move forward in a healthy manner post-divorce.