This is the fourth step of a series of 12 steps that explains in detail how the Collaborative Law Process works. Click here for the previous step.
Once the participants each meet with Collaboratively trained attorneys, the attorneys will confer with each other to determine which professionals might be needed on the team. There are Collaboratively trained child specialists, mental health professionals, and financial neutrals, but not every matter will require each of these experts. Additionally, the attorneys will determine whether the particular case needs two mental health coaches or whether a single mental health coach will be effective.
Using a single coach model will save the participants money because they will only be paying for one coach rather than two. However, this model does not work for every case. A single coach model can be risky if the coach does not remain neutral or if the participants do not perceive the coach to be neutral. Further, a single coach model will likely not work if one or both of the participants is emotionally vulnerable or does not feel equal to his or her partner. While each partner will still have his or her own Collaborative attorney to turn to, they might also want their own coach to assist them in navigating them through the divorce process. With the team approach in Collaborative Law, there are some cases where the single coach model works well.
Not every situation where the participants have children requires a child specialist, but the Collaborative Professionals should always consider whether a specialist is needed for a particular case. A child specialist is helpful when the participants are unable to agree to any sort of parenting plan. The child specialist can meet with the participants and the children if necessary in order to help the participants determine what is in the best interests of the children. A child specialist will act as the voice for the children to keep the participants focused on what is important for the children.
The last Collaborative Professional that should be considered in every divorce is the financial neutral. If the participants have significant assets or complex financial issues, a financial neutral can be of great help. Even if the participants only have a few assets, the financial neutral may be of assistance in helping to value the assets. Financial neutrals are particularly useful for marriages where participants are trying to decide the value of the assets before the marriage versus the value of the marital property.
Once the Collaboratively trained attorneys and participants determine which professionals might be needed for a particular matter, the attorneys are able to recommend professionals with whom they have worked well with in the past. The participants can then meet with the professionals if needed so that the Collaborative Professionals can gather more information that will help them assist with the Collaborative Process.