The Members of the Collaborative Team
In its most basic form, the Collaborative Family Law process is identified as two clients and two attorneys, bound by a formal agreement, who use a collaborative approach to avoid submitting contested issues to the court.
But Collaborative Family Law at its best is a flexible process, relying on professionals from other disciplines as you need them. This team of people works together toward one goal: maximizing the benefit to your family.
These are the team members and their roles:
The Collaborative Attorney
The Collaborative attorney has specialized training who facilitates interest-based negotiation and serves as an educator and guide through the collaborative process. Your attorney also advocates for you, identifies questions and issues that need resolution, provides legal advice, generates and evaluates resolution options, manages conflict, and assists the parties in implementing agreements.
The Collaborative Family Relations Specialist (FRS)
The Collaborative Family Relations Specialist, abbreviated as FRS, is a licensed mental health professional with specialized training in Collaborative Practice who assists each client and the Collaborative professionals to communicate effectively within the collaborative process.
The Family Relations Specialist does not act as a therapist. Rather, the FRS uses his or her professional training and experience to assist you and the other professionals involved in your case to manage emotional and psychological issues with the goal of promoting a smooth and efficient collaborative process. The FRS also communicates with the other Collaborative professionals to provide insight and assistance in order to help facilitate discussions and negotiations.
The Collaborative Family Relations Specialist performs these functions:
- Identifies and prioritizes your interests and concerns.
- Provides emotional support as you move through emotions such as loss, grief and anger which are often a feature of separation or other difficult family law issues.
- Identifies and offers assistance in dealing with and managing strong emotions that might interfere with the collaborative process.
- Uses his or her training to promote good communication throughout the collaborative process.
- Helps you to develop and implement an effective parenting plan.
- Helps you to learn and maintain skills for co-parenting.
- Assists you and the Collaborative professionals to manage any roadblocks to the resolution of your divorce or family law matter.
- To be the representative of the child or children’s feelings, needs, and interests.
- To be the child or children’s “voice,” in the collaborative process.
- To provide parents with information and guidance to help their children throughout their collaborative legal matter.
- To provide information to the collaborative professionals that will assist in developing an effective co-parenting plan that prioritizes the needs of the children.
- Facilitating safe, honest and informed financial communication
- Providing an unbiased assessment of your finances through acting in a neutral role
- Utilizing charts and graphs to help you and your attorneys understand the estimated tax and financial results of settlement ideas concerning support and asset division
- Working with the Collaborative Team to stay on track with financial topics and maintain open communication around finances
- Helping you to construct and gather budget and net worth data to promote conversation and settlement.
The Child Specialist
The child specialist is a licensed mental health professional with specific training in and experience with family systems and child development. Further, he or she has training and experience in working with parents and children who are in the midst of a divorce or other child custody or parenting issue. The child specialist helps parents and the Collaborative professionals involved to remain focused on the feelings and needs of any children involved in a collaborative legal matter.
The child specialist has four primary responsibilities:
Sometimes the role of Family Relations Specialist and Child Specialist will be performed by the same mental health professional. Sometimes, these roles will be divided between two mental health professionals.
The Financial Specialist
The financial specialist helps you gather, understand, organize and value your financial data, identify and clarify financial goals and interests and comprehend short and long term implications of settlement options.
The financial specialist will be a certified financial planning practitioner, chartered financial consultant, certified divorce planner or certified public accountant, and will have met additional training requirements to qualify him or her to handle the unique financial challenges presented in divorce and family law cases.
The financial specialist assists you by:
Other Team Members
In addition to attorneys, family relations, child and financial specialists, you may choose to retain other experts or consultants such as appraisers, mortgage brokers or vocational experts. Unlike traditional litigated cases, where the parties hire competing experts to "fight it out," both parties in the collaborative process jointly retain the experts they need and consider the options the experts present.
- WCPO News Piece about Collaborative Law
- Agreeing to disagree: Collaboration can be an option to settling business disputes by Paula Christian
- Divorce without Courts by Jane Gross of New York Times
- Imagine... A Collaborative Approach To Divorce by Gary Direnfeld
There is a movement in family law whereby divorcing couples can sign agreements with lawyers to not go to court...
- The Spiritual Aspects Of Collaborative Law by Dale L. Raugust
The good news is that within the last few years there has been an explosion of new approaches to the resolution of conflict within the family.
- How To Market Your Collaborative Law Practice by Elizabeth Ferris
How do certain ideas, services, products or messages advance from a position of unfamiliarity in the market to a position of popularity and recognition...
- The Basics of Collaborative Family Law- A Divorce Paradigm Shift by Sherri Goren Slovin
Collaborative Family Law (CFL) is a revolutionary approach to divorce that has quickly spread throughout the United States and Canada...