Child specialists are an underutilized resource in the Collaborative world. Here are some tips to help you and your clients benefit from the experience of working with a trained Child Specialist.
Discuss the value of a Child Specialist with your team and your client at the start. Experienced Collaborative professionals agree that children benefit from having their own “voice” in the process. Older children appreciate being able to express their concerns and needs. The Child Specialist is the conduit for the child’s participation in the process. These meetings offer all aged children a neutral supportive person to help explain the process to them and offer needed perspective and coping skills. Very young children, although unable to directly communicate their questions and needs, can be brought into the process through office observations or home visits.
Collaborative professionals suggest that Child Specialists are parallel to financial neutrals in that they will help gather and organize complicated information to help the parents make well-informed choices about parenting planning.
The Child Specialist acts as a consultant to the team about special issues that the family/parent/child have, whether or not the Child Specialist meets the children. It is helpful to bring the child development perspective to the conversation at least indirectly through the coaches/attorneys.
How to bring in the Child Specialist: Ideally, a Child Specialist is brought on the team at the beginning, and is present at the first meeting where the questions about the current and future status of the children are explicitly integrated into the Collaborative process.
Alternatively, one of the team members asks the parents individually at a team meeting, or a bit later in a coaching four-way, to articulate their hopes and concerns for their children currently and in the future. The children can be part of the divorce story the parents want to create for their transitioning family.
Child Specialists help parents to be SPECIFIC about their children’s needs, and their hopes and concerns for them. Child Specialists specifically organize for the parents and the team a sophisticated overview of risk and protective factors that go beyond the spoken “voice” of the child. Parents, when upset during a divorce and fearing for their children’s well being and their connection with the children, often oversimplify or overgeneralize catastrophic outcomes. Neither “the kids will be fine” nor “they will be ruined for life” is accurate or helpful.
Child Specialists help parents look to the FUTURE developmental needs of children and how parenting plans will need to adapt. Often parents wish to reduce their feelings of being overwhelmed by “getting it done” without a more specific view of current factors and the likely arch of the restructured family.
Have you made plans yet for the upcoming training conference hosted by the Association of Divorce Financial Planners and the Center for Mediation & Training in New York from October 1 through 4? You still have time to register and benefit from this outstanding program.
Become part of a network for new ideas, update your skills and return home reinvigorated. CP Cal board member Stephanie Maloney is among the many expert presenters.
For information and to register, visit this link.
A Canadian couple’s “divorce selfie” featuring their smiling faces outside the courthouse after filing for divorce as a demonstration that they’re willing to work together to be good co-parents of their children has racked up tens of thousands of social media pages views.
It’s a commentary on how “unexpected” it seems to many people that a divorcing couple can set its differences aside for the good of their children.
It is something Collaborative Divorce professionals advocate and are fortunate enough to see frequently. If this seems like a better way to divorce to you or someone you know, use our “Locate a Professional” feature on our website here to find your regional Collaborative Divorce practice group and a family law attorney who offers Collaborative Divorce near you.
Reduced pricing is available through August 31 for the upcoming training conference hosted by the Association of Divorce Financial Planners and the Center for Mediation & Training in New York from October 1 through 4.
Enjoy the beautiful fall weather while updating your skills and learning about best practices including a presentation by CP Cal board member Stephanie Maloney. You will reach a new level of insight you can implement immediately in your own practice.
For information and to register, visit this link.
Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association members including Kevin Chroman, Steven Garelick, Fred Glassman, Theresa Heyes, Dr. Carol Hirschfield, Stephanie Maloney, Jaye-Jo Portanova and Joe Spirito provided Collaborative Practice Training to an enthusiastic group of 45 attendees including five law school students August 12-14 at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
The three-day training program covered topics including the history of Collaborative Practice; role of the professionals and how they work together as a team; qualifying clients and setting expectations for the process; problem solving; and practice outreach. Participants had the opportunity to put their skills to the test during case simulation exercises, working in Collaborative Practice teams.
“Our participants gave us their full attention and were engaged and enthusiastic, especially during the role-playing exercises,” said Stephanie Maloney, training coordinator. “There was so much talent and insight in the classroom. Each of them will be an asset to the Collaborative community and we look forward to working with them to the benefit of our clients.”
A new, enthusiastic group of Collaborative professionals will now offer this healthy, respectful alternative to traditional divorce litigation. Thank you from CP Cal to the faculty and to everyone who participated. Welcome to the Collaborative Way!
Family law attorney Laura Wasser, known for representing celebrity clients in Southern California during their divorces and similar legal matters in the spotlight, endorsed Collaborative Divorce during her keynote lunch presentation at Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) Celebration 10 Conference in Los Angeles.
Wasser is a steadfast advocate for private, respectful divorce proceedings whenever possible, and she says Collaborative Divorce makes this possible. Wasser said any revolution must begin with responsible professionals, problem solvers ready to face the challenge of changing the way both professionals and their clients approach resolution.
First and foremost, Wasser says, we need to tell clients, “Don’t let someone in a black robe who doesn’t know you and your family make decisions for you,” and instead urge them to take control of their situation. “Involving clients in the process needs to happen. They have to talk to resolve issues,” said Wasser.
Wasser said many family law attorneys avoid Collaborative Practice and other forms of Consensual Dispute Resolution for one reason: it’s not easy. “Settling is sometimes much tougher than litigating,” Wasser admitted, which prevents more attorneys from being strong advocates for trying to work through issues outside the court system.
Wasser said the effort to educate more people begins on many levels, and will require the help of many partners. “It takes the law schools, bar associations, courts, and social media to educate about Collaborative Practice,” said Wasser. In particular, Wasser believes the education should start with the next generation of professionals. “Start talking to young attorneys about Collaborative Practice. This is how it needs to be done,” said Wasser.
Wasser’s book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself,” urges couples to embrace healthier ways to divorce, including Collaborative Divorce. She says her book is a guide to divorce “for a new generation” of people who want to keep themselves and their children healthy and protected through the process.
CP Cal sincerely thanks attorney Laura Wasser for joining us at Celebration 10, and for her support of Collaborative Practice. Laura, when you are ready to go through the Collaborative Practice training process, we will be here for you.
The Celebration 10 conference is in the books, but the work wasn’t done until the conference organizing committee reviewed the feedback from conference participants in an effort to learn what worked for attendees and what can be improved next year.
Ninety five percent of those who responded to the Celebration 10 survey told us your goals were met. A significant majority found the session topics of interest, and considered it important to participate in professional development activities like Celebration 10.
One person wrote, “My four goals were to have a successful presentation, to learn new useful information, to get to know colleagues, and to have fun. All goals were met.”
Another participant said, “Inspiring, sustaining excitement about Collaborative. New information about expanding my practice – social media, blogging.” One returning member said, “Workshops seemed fresher this year – planners are keeping up with a maturing practice modality and changing market for services.”
Among the most popular topics and sessions were those focusing on the Child Specialists, parenting plans, blogging and marketing your practice.
CPCal was especially interested in the experience of those attending our annual conference for the first time. One of them wrote, “I am new to the area and practice. Wonderful opportunities for networking. Also, presentations focused on both process and content of our practice.”
This new participant wrote, “As a first timer I felt very welcomed. Great content, materials and location. Thank you for such a well organized and content rich event.”
CPCal understands the need to provide workshops for professionals at all levels of experience and we’re happy with the positive response. “I was pleased to experience workshops labeled as “advanced” or “intermediate” actually living up to their billing. The workshops focusing on interactive audience involvement were great!” said one senior Collaborator.
Outside the sessions, conference participants enjoyed the opportunity to network with colleagues.
“Socializing with Collaborative colleagues always provides a wonderful way to grow skills, broaden knowledge.”
“It was a great opportunity to reconnect with my colleagues and learn.”
“The interaction and friendship is inspiring.”
What could we do better? Cancellations of specific training sessions were problematic for some attendees. Others say time allotted was inconvenient for attendees.
What would you like to see at future conferences? Among the suggestions we received:
The venue at the Westin Los Angeles Airport received good reviews, especially the convenience of having all conference events in the same place.
Special thanks to CPCal administrator Paula Jackson, whose diligence and hard-work were noted by many who took our survey. “The administrative aspect of the conference appeared seamless – great job and accolades to Paula! As well to other very active volunteers!!!!” We couldn’t have said it better.
“You outdid yourselves once again. The food was great, the programs were amazing. The energy you all created was outstanding. Thank you!”
Work has already started on Celebration 11, which will take place at the Sofitel hotel in Redwood City, April 29-May 1, 2016. It’s a lovely hotel 20 minutes from SFO with a complimentary airport shuttle.
We want to keep the conversation going. Let us know what you’d like to see at next year’s conference, and what we can do to improve your experience. Email Paula Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact any member of the board to provide your input.
And – see you in 2016!