One reason that many couples opt for collaborative divorce is that it places special emphasis on the needs of the children. Not only does collaborative divorce allow for more creative approaches to divorce agreements, it also provides parents with more control as they craft custody and child support agreements. One way that the collaborative process aims to protect the needs and interests of children throughout a divorce is through the advocacy of the child specialist.
Who is the Child Specialist?
Trained in both child development and the collaborative process, a child specialist is a licensed mental health professional. They have in-depth knowledge of child development, children’s therapy, family therapy, co-parent counseling, and child custody arrangements and issues. The child specialist may be a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), or even a psychologist with a Ph.D.
A child specialist is considered a neutral member of the team as they do not advocate for either divorcing party. The willingly share information with all involved parties in hopes of encouraging communication and clarity. They provide information on different options regarding custody as well as different techniques and communication styles for co-parenting.
What are the Goals of the Child Specialist
In the collaborative model, the child specialist speaks for the children throughout the divorce process. They are not a family therapist and cannot function as a therapist for the family after the divorce. Rather, they aim to give voice to the concerns of the children, to raise concerns that may arise throughout the process, to provide insight into the development processes of the children and their varying needs, to promote effective co-parenting skills, and to assist in crafting custody agreements that truly have the best interest of the children in mind.
While a child specialist has specialized mental health training, they offer no diagnoses. In addition, their suggestions are only recommendations for the parents to consider. Ultimately, the parents will be the ones crafting any custody agreements with their lawyers. However, a child specialist is a font of knowledge that can help parents understand how their children may be feeling throughout the divorce process and ensure that parents are able to plan for the future with all the tools they may need. The latter is especially important because the tools divorcing parents learn through the divorce can greatly help them as they establish two separate households and acclimate themselves and their children to life post-divorce.
Do You Need a Child Specialist on Your Collaborative Team?
Adding another team member may seem daunting, however, the benefits of using a child specialist are clear. For divorcing parents who will need to consider the best interests of their minor children, a child specialist serves as a guiding light that infuses the process with reason, knowledge, and care.
One way to determine whether you should add a child specialist to your collaborative divorce team is to consult with a Tampa collaborative divorce attorney. Every case is different, and while it may be useful to gather information from friends who have previously divorced, speaking with a divorce attorney can help provide you with information and options that are relevant to your specific case. The beauty of collaborative divorce is that it truly represents the participants. It is not a one-size-fits-all option, however, to be sure that it is a suitable process for you and your family, consult with a skilled Tampa collaborative divorce attorney.