In recent weeks we have begun discussing the collaborative divorce process. If you missed the previous installments in this series, you can find them here and here. Last week we briefly discussed that the collaborative divorce process uses a holistic approach to divorce by using a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. Who are these professionals?
- Financial Professional (FP). This person is CPA who might have additional qualifications that help him or her be more valuable to the collaborative divorce process. For instance, many FPs are Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), a certification that obviously is designed to help people in a divorce. As a neutral party, the FP does not work for either party or advocate for any particular course of action. The FP merely lays out the financial facts so the parties can make informed decisions.
Typically, the FP serves to help gather relevant financial information and documents from the parties. From those documents, the FP helps the parties develop budgets for living during and after the divorce. Additionally, the FP will educate the parties about tax implications of different courses of action. Perhaps most importantly, a good FP will be able to present possible settlement options in a way the parties, who may not be “numbers people” can understand.
- Mental Health Professional (MHP). This person will be a psychologist or other certified professional with specialized training in the divorce process. It is important to note that this person may run a successful therapy practice, but in the collaborative divorce process, the MHP does NOT preform therapy for either party. This person remains absolutely neutral in the proceedings and does not advocate for any particular course of action.
In addition to leading the group meetings, the MHP’s purpose in the collaborative divorce process is helping the parties communicate effectively, helping the parties develop their respective goals, and guiding the parties into the process of developing a parenting plan for minor children. At no point does the MHP serve as a therapist for the parties, even when one party or the other has obvious mental health issues such as substance abuse problems, or issues with anger management, grief, guilt, or other emotional problems during the process.
3. Lawyers. Each party will have his or her own lawyer who will guide the client through the process and help the client make educated, informed decisions. While the goal of the collaborative divorce process is for the parties to work together (not against each other as in the traditional adversarial divorce process) to reach an agreeable settlement, the lawyers seek to advise their clients about options from a legal perspective. Of course, the lawyers will do all the drafting of legal documents.
The lawyers do not argue with each other at group meetings. In fact, during the meetings, the neutral FP, MHP, and the parties do most of the talking with the lawyers sitting back taking notes. The lawyers are free to chime in, but this process is not lawyer driven or lawyer focused.
The lawyers will do most of their work before the meetings. The client will meet with his or her lawyer ahead of each scheduled group meeting to go over the agenda for the forthcoming meeting. This is when the lawyer will discuss the legal aspects of different options for the client so the client can go to the group meeting knowing about how community property is divided in Texas, or how parents’ rights and duties apply to the children, etc.
- Child Specialist. In rare cases, one additional neutral professional can be included in the process. The Child Specialist (CP) is a lawyer who serves to represent the needs of the children. In a traditional adversarial divorce, sometimes an ad litem is appointed for the children. The CP serves this same type of roll within the collaborative divorce process, except the parties agree to bring the CP into the process rather than having the court appoint him or her.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm that uses a holistic approach to help people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life. We proudly offer the collaborative divorce process for our clients. #beforeyournext make sure this spouse is your ex! This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information, contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go.
Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #singleforjinglejingle #collaborativedivorce