What is the Role of a Child Specialist?
If you’re divorcing and have children, you are likely concerned about the impact of your divorce on your children. Regardless of your children’s ages, divorce is a time of change and can be stressful. Understanding and addressing your children’s needs can significantly improve the likelihood of their healthy long-term adjustment. A child specialist can help keep you focused on what matters in your divorce – your kids!
Your child specialist will be a licensed mental health professional with expertise in child development and family systems. In the Collaborative Divorce Process your child specialist is neutral. S/he doesn’t represent you or your spouse. Instead, your neutral child specialist will help you to remain child-focused. Your child specialist will help you navigate the divorce process with the goals of minimizing any negative impact on your children, developing an effective co-parenting relationship, and preserving healthy parent-child relationships. The Collaborative Divorce Process is the only divorce process which includes a neutral child specialist as part of your divorce team.
Your neutral child specialist will begin by meeting with you, your spouse, and, depending on their ages, your children to understand your family dynamics, your concerns, and how your children are adjusting. S/he will help you and your spouse brainstorm possible options for your parenting schedule that will meet both of your needs and your children’s needs as much as possible.
Early engagement of a child specialist in the Collaborative Divorce Process can help you and your spouse unite on subjects related to your children, avoid escalation of any conflicts, and reinforce commitment of you and your spouse working together for the benefit of your children. Every family is unique and understanding your family is a critical part of the Collaborative Divorce Process to help you and your spouse create a parenting schedule and co-parenting relationship that will work well for you, your spouse, and your children after your divorce.
Your Neutral Child Specialist Can:
- Provide education to you and your spouse on the possible effects of divorce on children and on the factors that impact children’s adjustment;
- Meet with your children to understand their views and alleviate their concerns;
- Help you and your spouse to recognize how your children are adjusting to family changes;
- Discuss how to talk with your children about you and your spouse divorcing;
- Provide guidance on how you and your spouse can transition from a marital to a co-parenting relationship;
- Consult on strategies to minimize conflict and enhance communication, as well as how to address different parenting styles;
- Help you and your spouse develop a parenting schedule that meets the needs of you, your spouse, and your children including addressing any special needs of your children;
- Consult, as needed, with any other individuals such as school personnel, extended family, or physicians that may have insight relevant to helping your family navigate the divorce process;
- Discuss strategies to help your children adjust to possible changes such as relocation, school changes, introduction of significant others, and re-marriage and step-families;
- Guide you and your spouse to remain focused on maintaining healthy parent-child relationships during the divorce process and into the future.
The Benefits of Using a Child Specialist
Your neutral child specialist adds a layer of education and expertise in your divorce that will give you confidence that the agreements that you and your spouse will create using the Collaborative Divorce Process will meet your family’s goals. S/he can also be available after your divorce is finalized to provide additional guidance to you, your spouse, and your children to help navigate unforeseen divorce-related issues that may impact your children in the future.