Written by Scott A. Holzman.
Divorce affects children in a myriad of ways and parents will frequently say that they do not want their children to be negatively affected by the process. To mitigate the effects of divorce, most practitioners agree that the best ways include reducing parental conflict and tending to the needs of the child/ren. However, most traditional divorce models either do not include the voice of the child/ren or only obtain information about the child/ren through using a BIA (Best Interest Attorney) in the context of a litigated case. In contrast, the Collaborative Model prioritizes the emotional well-being of your child/ren. Collaborative Practice is unique among divorce process options in that it offers a constructive way of including the voice of your child/ren. The child specialist is typically a child therapist with extensive experience in separation and divorce. In Collaborative Practice his or her role is not to do therapy. Rather it is to gather information about your child/ren’s emotional state and experience, and to bring that information to you for use in the Collaborative process. The child specialist is not an advocate or custody evaluator, he or she will not write a report or make custody recommendations. Rather, he or she is a neutral member of the team, and is bound by the parameters of the Collaborative Participation Agreement. A child specialist is likely to meet first with you and your spouse (in separate sessions), then with your child/ren (typically for one or two sessions), and finally in a meeting with you, your spouse, and your coach/es. The child specialist will offer observations about your child/ren that will be helpful to you and your team in the development of your parenting plan.