When families separate, whether temporarily or permanently, children are always impacted. Sometimes that affect is obvious and communicated; yet often such influence is hidden or repressed. No matter what has created the division in the family, all parents want their children to be happy and healthy, emotionally and physically.
Collaborative Practice provides parents with a more amicable method of establishing two households while preserving positive and loving family relationships. During the Collaborative Law process, both parties have the benefit of working with one neutral Facilitator, sometimes referred to as the Child Specialist, to arrive at a parenting plan about sharing access time with the children and clarifying responsibilities for decision making in their upbringing. The presence of a Facilitator on the settlement team is a major advantage over having adversarial attorneys, one-sided retained forensic experts, and judges with only limited time and resources, in courtroom cases.
By working together to plan for the future welfare of the children in the Collaborative process, both parents have an equal voice in what is in the best interests of their sons and daughters. From determining weekly routines and vacation scheduling to arriving at the appropriate allocation of child-related expenses, Collaborative Practice gives parents the tools to establish a comprehensive plan that works for everyone in the family. A well devised self-determined plan will be far more likely to be adhered to and respected than an outcome unilaterally imposed by a court. And when changes in circumstances of the parties and the needs of the children invariably occur, the Collaborative Team is available to resume assistance in the future, too.
The concerns about children are typically focused in two areas: time and money. Where will the children be at any given time, and how will their needs be met within the available financial resources?
One way, of course, is to leave those critical decisions up to a judge in a setting where the courts are overrun with cases and outcomes are usually made without a clear and compassionate understanding of the actual family dynamics. The Collaborative Process affords parents the time and professional resources to develop practical, workable solutions beyond the mere application of statutory formulas and norms that are applied by the courts. No one knows what’s optimal for children better than their parents, especially when there’s an unsettling break-up in the family unit. The Collaborative philosophy puts the power of assessing what’s best for children into the hands and hearts of the parents, with able assistance from a caring, committed, and experienced settlement team.