Full-Team Collaborative Practice: Diverse Expertise Provides Best Value

Working together as a team Collaborative Practice professionals can provide your family invaluable assistance. Members pictured (left to right): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman." width="800" height="589" /> The San Diego "Divorce Options team (L to R): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.

by Shawn Weber, Certified Family Law Specialist
Weber Dispute Resolution, Solana Beach, California

Working together as a team Collaborative Practice professionals can provide your family invaluable assistance. Members pictured (left to right): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman." width="800" height="589" /></a> The San Diego "Divorce Options team (L to R): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.

Working together as a team Collaborative Practice professionals can provide your family invaluable assistance. Members pictured (left to right): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.” width=”800″ height=”589″ /> The San Diego “Divorce Options team (L to R): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.

The Full-Team Collaborative Divorce Process

Collaborative Practice is an excellent way to resolve difficult disputes including issues surrounding divorce or separation. In a Collaborative Divorce, parties hire specially trained attorneys who enter inter into a written agreement with the parties th

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

at the attorneys will never go to court. In addition, the parties recruit mental health professionals

 

to act as coaches for each of the parties to help with the difficult emotions in the case. They hire a neutral financial specialist to help with the money issues and a child specialist to serve as a voice for the children. If the case veers towards litigation, the team withdraws.

By removing the specter of court, parties can focus on positive solutions instead of adversarial bickering. Collaborative Practice is a great way to get a divorce without wasting the family nest egg and without screwing up the kids.

It’s a great process and provides maximum support to the parties from a broad range of professional perspectives. However, the most frequent concern I hear from clients and professionals when contemplating a collaborative process involves the cost. While collaborative divorce is certainly less expensive than litigation, it can be more expensive than some other out-of-court options. Furthermore, the more experts and professionals are involved, the more complicated and challenging it can be to manage all the moving parts.

 

Collaborative Practice Saves Families Money with Specialization

The complaint about the complexity and cost of a full team misses the most important point about why Collaborative Practice is so great. In a full-team Collaborative Divorce, the parties achieve terrific economies of scale through specialization. This means that you save money and get better value from your process because you are paying the best people for the best work for the best price.

For example, most lawyers went to law school because they were not math majors. You probably don’t want to have a lawyer as your financial specialist. However, attorneys tend to have then highest billing rates. So why would you pay the most expensive person to not do the best work when it comes to financial analysis? That’s where the financial specialist comes in. She has specific expertise in divorce finances and bills the appropriate market billing rate for her services. Instead of wasting money with the attorney to get bad financial advice, use the financial specialist to get better information for less money. That’s a win-win.

Similarly, when I did litigation, clients who were rightfully stressed out about how to interact with their estranged spouse would try to use me as a mental health professional. But, newsflash, I am not a mental health professional and am not qualified to provide that type of work. Although I am good at working with people, nothing replaces that expertise and knowledge of a trained mental health professional when dealing with the emotions of divorce.

Rather than paying the attorney to do subpar mental health work, you hire the mental health professional for his expertise in providing the best coaching or child specialist service for the best price. Again, that’s value to you and to your family. What’s more, you get a level of diverse professional support that is simply not available in any other process. Your kids and your finances will thank you.

This is refreshing for the lawyer, because now she can do what she does best: the legal work. Use the lawyer to understand the law and get the advice you need to enter a valid, enforceable and informed agreement. Because the lawyer is in the room and on your side, you know you have a settlement minded attorney who’s got your back at the negotiation table.

Diversity Provides Strength in Collaborative Practice

Remember, the great strength of Collaborative Practice is the diversity of professionals. The very fact that you have a full team of professionals looking at your case from diverse backgrounds and professional specialties gives your family the best chance of transitioning with the best possible information and support for the very best value. It protects your kids, your pocketbook and your dignity.

 

What About The Kids?

by Dr. Debra Dupree, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Relationships That Matter

Dr. Debra Dupree

You’ve made the decision to divorce. It’s been agonizing but a decision that had to be made. Now, what about the children? Never in your wildest dreams did you expect to bring children into the world so they could live in two different households. Where do you begin? What’s in their best interests? How will they be affected?

Tip #1: Even though you are at odds with the other parent, crafting a joint message is critically important.

Pull no punches here. There are plenty of websites that offer good sound guidance to parents on how to tell the children and what to expect at different ages. Here’s what Psychology Today has to offer.

The most important tip here is to assure them these are adult differences. Place no blame and never tell the children if there has been an affair or other adult misbehavior. Those are adult issues, not children issues.

Tip #2: Children respond differently to divorce depending on their age and maturity. Here is a breakdown by age:

Some common issues that surface for younger children include fear of abandonment, self-blame for the divorce, the need for reassurance, conflicting loyalties, and fantasies about parents reuniting.

Older school-age children are often angry, embarrassed about their parents’ chaos, often take sides, experience depression, experiment with drugs and alcohol to escape the home pressures. How you support and cooperate with the other parent in helping teens through the transition is crucial.

Regardless of the age, what all children need are consistency, stability and predictability.

And, don’t think the impact of divorce stops there! The young adult, ages 18 to 25, often have the most difficulty with their parents’ divorce as the life they’ve known is shattered through divorce. Studies suggest that adult children of divorce are less likely to attend or complete college, are more likely to be unemployed or on welfare, are more likely to have problematic relationships with parents and siblings, and have more trouble forming their own marital relationships. So do your homework and be prepared.

Divorce is difficult on children no matter their age. Photo: Michael “Mike” L. Baird/Creative Commons license

Tip #3: How parents handle their divorce is the single most contributing factor to how children adjust.

We’ve just taken a look at how children react to divorce differently at different ages. One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to develop a structured parenting plan that is predictable (no surprises or frequent changes) and consistent. There is already enough turmoil going on during the transition into two households. You are most likely frazzled and on edge. Having a schedule the kids can rely on helps stabilize the anxiety that can come with change. Using daycare and school as places for transitions, rather than directly from one parent home to the other, allows the kids to go through a normal day just like any other kid in school. It is also reduces the anxiety that comes from leaving one parent for the other.

It is critical that parents learn to disengage from what was their intimate marital relationship and re-engage in the business of parenting (like two professional partners working through business decisions). It might sound odd, but over 20 years of experience working with families in divorce proves this shift in mindset between the adults in the divorce is essential for minimizing the negative effects of divorce on children. After all, the divorce is ending the marital relationship between two adults, but it does not end the parent-child relationship that is intended to go on forever.

Now is the time for parents to get help through short-term counseling, educational programs, or coaching on how to parent in a post-divorce world. It is different! Children need structure and they need both parents in their lives, just not at the same time in a post-divorce world. They will adapt but much of it has to do with how the adults manage their lives and interactions with others, including new significant others.

The bottom line: divorce is a tough road to follow. Take a good look at ALL your options for recovery, both inside and outside of the marriage. And, if divorce is the only option, choose Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Collaborative Divorce or mediation as the route to follow, as this offers the greatest potential for recovery.

Dr. Debra Dupree is a forensic mental health professional, licensed as a Child and Family Therapist in 1986 and a Credentialed Mediator in 1994. She obtained her Doctorate in Psychology, specializing in Marriage and Family Systems, in 2014. Debra has an extensive background spanning more than 30 years helping people understand their communication dynamics, belief systems, and impact on those relationships that matter. She is a member of the Southern California Mediation Association as well as the San Diego Family Law Bar Association.