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Collaborative Divorce Team Model Creates Better Outcomes For Families

If you or anyone you know wants to end a marriage with minimal emotional damage to the family, I suggest serious consideration of collaborative divorce. A simple explanation of collaborative divorce is: "A highly structured process in which to express and resolve conflict without going to court".

There are a number of sources of more thorough explanations of collaborative divorce and a list of local attorneys, mental health professionals and financial professionals. My intention is to give information about what Texas collaborative professionals call "The Texas Model" of collaborative divorce. Texas collaborative professionals are dedicated and available to assist divorcing couples to successfully restructure their lives, so as to minimize the potential negative effects of divorce.

We are seeing more positive outcomes for families with the "Texas Model". This model uses a team approach allowing divorcing couples to negotiate acceptable agreements based on information that is freely exchanged between them without going to court, while still having the benefit of their own attorney .

One beneficial provisions of "The Texas Model" is the use of a neutral mental health professional, who steps out of the therapist role and takes on the role of a neutral facilitator. Another advantage of this model is the use of a neutral financial professional, who helps the couple understand their financial assets and liabilities, as well as any tax advantages or disadvantages that may result from their settlement options.

Attorneys, neutral mental health professionals, and neutral financial professionals are specially trained in the collaborative team approach and strive to use their specific knowledge and training to help the divorcing couple to reach the best result considering their unique situation.

Divorcing couples and their children are affected in three main ways: emotionally, financially, and legally. To relieve these pressures an attorney, who advocates for each spouse, teams up with the neutral professionals. The family benefits not only from the skills and knowledge of each team member, but also from the synergy of the team. In addition, because financial and mental health professionals are neutral, the mind-set goes from "his side" versus "her side" to "us versus the problem". The acronym for TEAM truly applies to this model. A more detailed description of each team member's role helps us understand the benefit of the team approach.

Part of the role of the neutral facilitator, also called divorce coach or communication specialist is to help every one in the process communicate more effectively, help manage the understandable emotions that come up during the divorce, facilitate negotiations, and help with parenting plans when needed. The neutral facilitator, trained to assist in managing emotions helps the team move towards the goal of the best outcomes for the family.

This role is typically filled by a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or Licensed Master or Clinical Social Worker experienced with children and families. Many of us who fill this role are also trained as mediators. We bring our many years of training and all our skills into a whole new role aimed at minimizing the negative effects of divorce and helping the parties restructure their lives in the best way possible.

The use of a neutral financial professional is also beneficial. They help the couple understand their assets and debts and provide them with such information as tax advantages or disadvantages of various settlement options. They also assist the couple to gather and organize financial information, prepare needed financial documents, and assist in negotiation for financial outcomes that meet the needs of both the husband and wife. This role is often filled by a financial professional such as a CPA or certified divorce financial analyst. The neutral professionals are joined together with the traditional players, the attorneys, to make up the entire team.

Collaborative divorce attorneys are transformed from being "warriors" to being problems solvers. While each of the attorneys acts as an advocate of their respective client giving them legal information, they understand the importance of working toward achieving both parties' goals. Each spouse usually meets individually with their own attorney between the structured "joint" meetings with the whole team, to discuss what they think is important at the time. The joint meetings are usually about two hours in length and are structured and agenda driven. The agenda is usually prepared and circulated to the team and the parties before each meeting and helps to keep everyone working in an efficient and productive manner. Another tool used in this process is the minutes for each meeting. The minutes includes such information as what was discussed and "action items" .

The "Texas Model" is used and promoted by a growing number of divorce attorneys. If you are planning on divorcing and want to consider a "Texas Model" of collaborative divorce, information about collaborative divorce and the team model can be found on the above mentioned web sites, and there are many articles and books written on the subject. After reading about collaborative divorce, I suggest interviewing one or more family law attorneys specifically trained in the interdisciplinary model of collaborative divorce.

With a focus is on relationships, both personal and professional, Ms. Barnes is considered a gentle, compassionate listener who assists individuals, couples and families in finding practical solutions. She helps people develop their own strengths and find greater possibilities and options for their lives. For more information go to:

Healing Families Of Divorce: Top Ten Ways To Stop The Conflict And Put Your Children First

2. Acknowledge the marriage is over and move on.

Join a divorce recovery support group and do your part in the work of healing from divorce. Time alone does not heal. Many churches sponsor divorce recovery groups. Call your church or join us at St. Luke's UMC for Divorce recovery groups and Solo Flight a single parent support group that meets the first Wednesday of each month.

3. Learn your part in the conflict and stop doing it.

Don't fight in front of your children. Ask for help. Be responsible for managing your own anger. I see many people who are in the process of or recently divorced and hurt who ask for help dealing with their sadness and anger and pain.

4. Treat you ex at least as well as you would a business partner.

Recognize that your ex is now your lifetime business partner in the business of rearing emotionally healthy and well adjusted children.

5. Do not use your kids as weapons or pawns.

Do not put your kids in the middle. For instance, do not ask your children to carry messages or keep secrets or tell lies. Don't fight in front of the children. The harm that you do your kids from you anger and bitterness can last a lifetime. Fighting between parents is the number one cause of adjustment and emotional problems in children.

6. Set clear boundaries.

What are you willing and not willing to do. Be clear with your ex. Also be particularly clear with your adult children who may be particularly vulnerable to being put in the middle of their parents fighting.

7. Children thrive best with two loving parents.

Consider custody arrangements that are flexible and in the best interest of your children. Although more difficult for parents some form of joint custody is often best for the children involved. For example - always offer your spouse an opportunity to "babysit" if you must be away from your children during your time.

8. Your child needs you!

The number one request I get from children of all ages is more quality time with each parent. Your child needs the freedom to call, email, spend time with and most of all love both parents. Create positive memories for your child be spending quality time with her each week.

9. Do you like yourself?

If you are happy with your own life you are less likely to focus on problems with your ex. If you are satisfied with the relationship you have with your children you will be less upset or jealous by the relationship your ex has with your children.

10. Seek peace instead of revenge.

Give up your right to get even. What does your faith say about forgiveness? Is this useful to you? Pray for your ex. Wish you ex well. Focus on his or her good qualities. Also share those qualities with your children Copyright 2003

Note: If you feel that the conflict is becoming severe or in any way damaging to the children please seek help.

Barnes' diverse background includes a seminary degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Pastoral Counseling and a license as a Mental Health Counselor providing a foundation for her extensive experience and training in marriage counseling.

Barnes has taught divorce recovery programs for six years and has written numerous articles on relationships and divorce as well as given a variety of talks and led workshops on divorce and relationships.

With a focus is on relationships, both personal and professional, Ms. Barnes is considered a gentle, compassionate listener who assists individuals, couples and families in finding practical solutions. She helps people develop their own strengths and find greater possibilities and options for their lives. For more information go to:

Divorce Info Divorce Information Divorce Advice Divorce Help

Divorce advice is a double edged sword much of the divorce info can be conflicting. There are two directions you can take after your divorce. The high road or the low road, but the choice will be yours. The latter one leads to resentment, bitterness, and self destruction. You can build anger and resentment toward your former partner which will lead you to find ways of seeking revenge. If you chose this road to walk down after your divorce, you will find yourself arguing and fighting over every minute item. Your emotions will get out of control on this road and you will take much too long to heal while on it.

Words will be spoken that are meant to hurt each other. What will this accomplish? Will you find peace and satisfaction on this road? Many have walked down it after divorce. Some never return. Do you think it is worth ruining your life and, perhaps, others while seeking revenge? What about your children, if any are involved?

The higher road is more secure. There is dignity on the higher road. This road is much more promising because it offers such things as: peace, forgiveness, and, most of all, healing. But, make no mistake about it, this road is the most difficult after separation and divorce.

This road means taking responsibility for your own actions. It may require that you admit that you need others to come along side of you for support.

Everyone needs help from time to time in life. However, many couples on the verge of separation lack the courage to ask for divorce help. When dealing with divorce, you may want to browse the self-help books at your local book store to find divorce information. If you were belittle by your ex spouse you will have to be in continuous dialogue with yourself presenting positive statements to your inner person.

The higher road leads to forgiveness and peace of mind after divorce. In order for you to be set free you will have to release your ex. It is such a simple statement, but one of the most difficult decisions to make during and after a divorce, and then to apply.

However, forgiving the one who you believe hurt you is the ultimate means to growth and healing. As much as it hurts to forgive and release your spouse during a divorce, it is a necessity. You can use your experience during your divorce to heal and to grow.

The ink may not be dry on your divorce decree, but you don't have to wait until it is to take the higher road. You can get on it today. There definitely is life after divorce, and that's great divorce advice.

Divorce Advice, Two Roads To Travel On Your Divorce Separation:The high road , or the low roadThe higher road is more secure.

There is dignity on the higher road. divorce advice

With a focus is on relationships, both personal and professional, Ms. Barnes is considered a gentle, compassionate listener who assists individuals, couples and families in finding practical solutions. She helps people develop their own strengths and find greater possibilities and options for their lives. For more information go to:

Families & Divorce Related Articles

Wallerstein's Divorce Study, The Impact Of Divorce On Families  

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