Two Homes, One Family The holidays are over and somehow you got through them because you didn’t want to spoil it for the whole family. But, you believe that divorce is the only answer at this point. You don’t feel that you can continue as a family, in one house, but still hope to be a family, in two houses. Your children are young, impressionable and need two parents. You don’t want to go through a custody battle, evaluations, etc. and want to continue to have more of a voice in parenting, without the negatives that some of your friends or family members have experienced in getting their divorces. There is an answer – Collaborative Divorce. With this method, your attorneys, both collaboratively trained, are committed to helping people get divorced, out of Court and the public record, in a non-contentious environment. Collaborative attorneys work together for the benefit of the couple, or family if there are children. Although each lawyer advocates for his/her client, he or she does so in an open and cooperative manner. The result is that you can each walk away from the marriage knowing that not taking a “battle” approach allows you both to move on, feeling better about your spouse and yourself, which is invaluable when you have children of any age. A number of Collaborative attorneys work with a team, which handles, as needed, the emotionally charged aspects of divorce. Specifically trained and licensed mental health practitioners function in two ways, as a Divorce Coach or a Child Specialist. These professionals free the lawyers to do what they are best trained to do and also offer their clients additional services, often needed during divorce, at less than attorney rates. Divorce Coaches help their clients overcome any emotional obstacles (which can result in less attorney time) and offers them better ways of coping,which is so crucial during the divorce experience, and, useful for a lifetime. They do not serve as therapists in this role but can refer to another therapist, if indicated. Although a client may already be in therapy, the work of a Divorce Coach is different. It is brief and focused on the present, getting you through the divorce with your dignity intact. Many therapists are not trained in this kind of coaching and would not, ethically, be able to fill both roles anyway. We are ethically bound to not ‘wear two hats’. Therapy is a totally confidential process and divorce coaching involves sharing pertinent information only with the Collaborative team. Outside of the team, all information is confidential. When a couple has children, the manner in which they divorce sends a powerful message . The most important factor in a child’s future emotional development is how well their parents continue to co-parent during and after the divorce. The Child Specialist is another team role filled by a mental health practitioner. S/he is the only member of the team to meet the child(ren) and becomes the ‘voice’ of the child(ren). Children are not always forthright with their parents, at this time, for fear of hurting their feelings, upsetting them further, etc. When parents are not able to agree about the children, the Child Specialist, trained in child development, family relations, parent education, communication skills and marital transitions, helps parents come to agreements about each child’s specific needs. The goal is to assist parents in helping their children adapt and move forward, in the best way possible, during and after the divorce. The Child Specialist can be available, following divorce, if there are issues, with children, related to the divorce. It IS possible to have one family in two homes – when parents learn how to effect that, there are long-term benefits for each family member.