Divorce is hard on everyone - especially children. In Collaborative Law the child specialist is a neutral third party who represents the interests of the children throughout the divorce process. This specialist is a mental health professional – typically a psychologist or an LCSW - who has focused their work on child-related issues. There are different approaches to the role of child specialist (e.g., play therapy) so clients may want to interview a number of different professionals.
The child specialist will meet with both parents and with the children. Basically, the purpose of the child specialist is to figure out mom’s best qualities, dad’s best qualities, the needs of the children, and to integrate all of those things into a parenting plan. The child specialist then reports back to the Collaborative Law team with a recommendation about what he or she thinks is the best parenting plan for the family.
The child specialist will work directly with the children to make sure their needs are met through the divorce process. This may include talking with the children about their emotions as they go through the process; talking with the children about their desired outcome for the case; or just helping them deal with the impact of their parents’ separation on their lives.
The litigation equivalent of the child specialist is the custody evaluator. A typical custody evaluation tends to focus on who is the ‘least bad’ parent. The child specialist, on the other hand, focuses on the positive qualities each parent can offer to the children.
You can learn more about the Collaborative Law child specialist at KeepOutOfCourt.com.