Team Players: Assembling the Right Professionals When Navigating Through Divorce

Divorce is a disruptive life transition that can lead to emotional and financial stress. Although many people successfully navigate divorce with only their attorney’s assistance, those who have a team of individuals guiding them through this process have the added support and expertise of professionals trained at helping clients protect themselves during a sensitive procedure. Often the feeling of being alone leads to greater pressure and anxiety and may contribute to more animosity between spouses. Having support in the form of a select group of experts can provide comfort, confidence, and successful outcomes in divorce.

Like a sports team, a work-related team, or even a medical team, a divorce team is comprised of individuals that all play a specific role in the divorce process. Each individual team member has expertise in an important aspect of divorce and the team works together with the end goal of creating an outcome that is equitable and satisfying to both parties.

A team of experts, in this case the divorce team, aims to accomplish a better outcome by:

  • Drawing on the expertise of each team member
  • Collaborating with each other to identify and address issues and strategies, employing a more comprehensive, creative and mutually agreeable approach
  • Coordinating with one another to create greater efficiency and better communications

Most of us would agree that utilizing experts in a cohesive and collaborative way to achieve a smoother divorce is preferred to a less organized and often more frustrating approach.

Now that we understand the benefits of why a team approach is preferred, who are the team members that we might have on the divorce team? Here are some expert team members that you might consider and what role they would play:

  • Legal expert – assist in gathering information, exploring and developing settlement options, establish a framework for negotiation, prepares legal documents and obtain judgement
  • Financial expert – assess current financial situation, gain understanding of financial goals (short and long term), gather financial data, develop different financial settlement scenarios, offer financial guidance, planning, and support
  • Mental health expert or Divorce coach – help in managing emotions and stress related to divorce process, assist in developing effective communication methods and skills, help to build coping skills and strategies for positive mental well being
  • Child specialist – assesses the needs and concerns of each child involved, educates you about reducing stressors for children, assists in developing an effective co-parenting plan
  • Career expert – assess current skills and aptitudes related to income earning ability, research and evaluate possible career/vocation options including income potential and educational requirements, assistance with resume and interview preparation
  • Case Manager – this role is often covered by the team legal expert but is sometimes held by a separate individual. This team member will manage the logistics, scheduling, communications and overall coordination of the divorce process.

As you can see, there are many important skills that can assist in supporting you as you go through divorce, and most importantly help you to arrive at a satisfying resolution.

How do you go about assembling your team? You can hand pick the right people by calling upon referrals from trusted friends, co-workers or advisors. Outside of asking those you know for referrals, you can also seek subject matter experts from respective organizations such as the Financial Planning Association, the Bar Association and the Mental Health Association, all of which have local branches.

As an alternative, adopting the Collaborative Divorce process will give you immediate access to a team of seasoned, diverse experts including many of those noted earlier. In a Collaborative Divorce, the team is pre-assembled, and is an inherent part of this approach.

Whether you choose to adopt the collaborative divorce process or a traditional approach to divorce, having your “team” of skilled and experienced professionals there to surround and support you is vital. If you are contemplating divorce or are already in the early stages of this transition, it is time to assemble your team – the sooner you have the support in place, the sooner you will be on the path to a smoother, less stressful divorce, with the likelihood of a more successful outcome.

Resources

International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, www.collaborativepractice.com National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov National Bar Association, www.nationalbar.org Financial Planning Association, www.plannersearch.org American Bar Association, www.americanbar.org

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