The Role of Collaborative Divorce in the Lives of Children

I am currently completing an externship with Judith Williams and Elizabeth Jones at the Center for Mediated Divorce. Recently, Judith conducted an interview with a prospective new client who was a candidate for Collaborative Divorce. His words were the inspiration for this article. He had been very generous to his wife since the date of separation, and several times during the meeting he said, “I do it all for my kids.”

Unfortunately, this attitude is not the prevalent attitude of people in the midst of divorce, but children should be a priority. Parents send their children into a world where they will one day become the future of America. It is safe to say that most proponents of Collaborative Law and those who practice it seek to prevail for the children.

Collaborative law is a method of resolving a divorce case where each party is represented by an attorney, and the parties sign a formal agreement wherein they promise to negotiate the divorce through a series of four-way meetings. Often the parties seek the assistance of other trained professionals such as mental health experts and financial specialists. When the parents’ break-up has been tumultuous, it is frequently beneficial for the parties to seek the assistance of a mental health professional to work with the children. In addition, the parents are permitted to seek counselors of their own to assist them in formulating a parenting plan to achieve the goal of maintaining the parental bond on both sides.

One of the main problems with litigated divorces is that the children may be stuck in the middle of a volatile situation, and they may feel that they have no voice and no one to turn to. The use of Collaborative Divorce allows the children to have just that. The children can voice their feelings, emotions, and concerns to the mental health professional without any fear of judgment or upsetting one of their parents. The mental health professional can then guide the children through the difficult process of divorce, with an eye toward a balanced and well adjusted life for the child. Collaborative Divorce, therefore, is more than just a cost effective method of dispute resolution; it is also a tool that can change children’s lives.