Jacqueline Newman Discusses the Interdisciplinary Model of Collaborative Divorce

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One of the things I like best about working in the collaborative divorce model is the interdisciplinary team approach. As I explain to clients, we can bring in a divorce coach (divorce therapist), a financial neutral, and a child specialist—all trained in the collaborative model. I tell my clients, “I am the most expensive player on the team. Why not work with less expensive specialists who do this type of work every single day?”

I think that the reason many couples divorce is that they‎ “stop speaking the same language.” I therefore call the divorce coaches “the translators.”  I can think of numerous occasions when I will hear one spouse say something and then the other spouse takes offense saying, “Can you believe what she said?” Yet when the coach says, “Well, what I heard was  “XYZ,” then the parties both nod their heads in agreement. Divorce coaches translate the discussion to a language both parties can understand.

A financial neutral is also of great value to the divorce process. Very often in marriages, you have one spouse who is more aware and comfortable with the finances than the other one. The more financially-savvy spouse will think it is so easy and the “numbers are the numbers.” Yet to the spouse who does not  feel comfortable with the numbers and typically feels vulnerable and scared, having a neutral person explain the financial situation to that spouse can be comforting and level the playing field. A financial neutral is a good investment for both parties.

Child specialists may be appropriate when there are significant custody issues at play. Using attorneys to handle these issues can be done, but attorneys do not have specialized training in child psychology. Not to mention having the two most expensive members of the team handling an issue where one specialist can assist makes more psychological and financial sense.

If parties do not feel comfortable mediating their divorce, I highly recommend trying to resolve their case via the collaborative method before litigating. I also would encourage clients to take advantage of the different professionals at their disposal when engaging in the collaborative process.