The Artisans of the Collaborative Divorce Process – Part 2: The Family Specialist

Lawyers can do a lot of things to help clients in a collaborative divorce, but financial expertise or emotional expertise is sometimes best handled by specialists and experts – who I like to call the “artisans” of divorce. In part one of this series, we looked at the financial expert and how they help divorcing couples grasp their current financial situation and design a financial agreement beneficial to both parties. Part two of this series is all about managing, processing, and moving through emotions. In this blog, I discuss the expertise that a Family Specialist brings to the collaborative process.

Whether you’ve had children with your soon-to-be-ex or you simply have a hard time sitting down with them to compromise and work out solutions, a family specialist can help. I want a family specialist on my collaborative divorce team so I can make sure the process keeps moving forward without tension or unproductive fights.

What Is a Family Specialist?

Simply put, a family specialist is a mental health professional experienced with the collaborative divorce process. In collaborative divorce, a family specialist – also known as a “collaborative divorce coach” – might be a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist, or a social worker with a Master of Social Work (MSW). They are specially trained to be a collaborative divorce family specialist.

The family specialist helps a divorcing couple with child-related issues, communication issues, and emotional issues that arise during the divorce. It’s important to note that they are not there to provide therapy, even though they are therapeutically trained. They’re not going to talk about why you married your spouse or how much he’s like your father. Rather, they will help you avoid getting triggered by your spouse during the divorce process and help you learn what to avoid saying to your spouse in return. They fully understand all the negative emotions that come with divorce – guilt, shame, sadness, anger, resentment – and help you stay away from those triggers so you can progress through your collaborative divorce process.

I’ve been involved in plenty of collaborative divorce situations where emotions weren’t kept in-check, and they hijacked the process. If you don’t manage your emotions properly, you simply can’t sit at the collaborative table, whether it’s on Zoom or in-person. Emotions flood your ability to understand, hear, and comprehend what is happening. A family specialist is trained specifically for these situations and can save you hundreds of dollars by helping you stay focused, make decisions, explore your options, and improve your collaborative skills.

Now, people often say to me, “Oh, this will be very expensive. Why do I need more people on my team? I already have a lawyer and a therapist.” But consider this: You don’t want to spend your legal fees talking about what a jerk your spouse is and how you didn’t sleep last night. And a family specialist is trained specifically to help you through the collaborative divorce process, which sets them apart from your therapist. A family specialist also charges less per hour and provides very targeted help, especially with child-related issues like parenting plans, adult children, and other practical, emotional issues. There is truly no downside to enlisting a family specialist’s help.

If you want to learn more about the Collaborative Divorce process and #NoCourtDivorce, contact New York divorce and family law attorney Andrea Vacca at Vacca Family Law Group, 212.768.1115.