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Collaborative Law: Child Specialist
Divorce Recovery Group
Limits of Confidentiality
255 W. Central, Suite 201, Brea, CA 92821

                 

 
                       

COLLABORATIVE LAW:  CHILD SPECIALIST

The Child Specialist provides insight into how the child(ren) is coping with the divorce and offers options for time-share and other logistics in their best interest.  The Child Specialist can act as a spokesperson for younger children or help older children articulate their feelings/wishes directly to their parents, coaches and/or attorneys.

Helping the parents focus on the child(ren)'s needs is essential. The Child Specialist can work to shift from "my time" with the child to the "child's time",  so the parents understand that the child's needs are most essential.   The Child Specialist can also help the parents shift away from financial issues with regard to the children, and focus on their developmental needs instead. The coaches and attorneys can help the parents shift their focus by validating the need to stay with developmental needs, and child needs rather than their own.

Following the assessment of child(ren)'s needs, the Child Specialist will discuss with the child what he/she will present to their parents and coaches.  Then, she/he will either meet in a strategic planning meeting with the coaches and/or attorneys; and then with both parents and both coaches to discuss their conclusions and recommendations.  Depending on the assessment and the child(ren)'s age(s), the child may be present if indicated. 

PROTOCOL FOR THE CHILD SPECIALIST

The Child Specialist will be briefed by the attorneys and coaches prior to the initial contact with the family. Then, the Child Specialist will assess the needs of the individual family and gather information in several ways:

THE INITIAL MEETING

  • At the discretion of the Child Specialist, and based on any special circumstances of the situation, the Child Specialist can meet with parents together or individually, or include coaches.
  • Provides the parents an orientation to the process.
  • Discusses the limits of confidentiality; obtains consent to speak to teachers, therapists, etc; obtains a detailed history of the child's issues, or concerns about the child. 
  • Meets with the child alone or with siblings; can include parents if appropriate at beginning of meeting (especially for young children).
  • Discusses the time-limited nature of relationship (contrast to psychotherapy)
  • Discusses the limits of confidentiality, exclusions of safety issues. Depending on age of child, discuss how and what information to share with parents/coaches. Works out arrangements with the child if information is to be shared with coaches, parents.
  • Explains to the child that I may talk to his/her therapist(s), or others, if possible.
  • Sets up parameters ahead of time:  instructs about collaborative process; use of clinical judgment
  • Collection of other data
  • Interviews other important adults in the child(ren)'s lives, such as teachers, therapists, other family members (obviously, with Parental consent).
  • Home visits, especially helpful with young children.
  • Reports back to coaches, as set up originally (via email or phone at discretion of Child Specialist) and reports to the attorneys for any legal issues. The team needs to decide on the most constructive and least destructive way to bring the information back to the parents. Written reports from the Child Specialist should be avoided; the role is a consultant to the family and a voice for the children.

(The above Child Specialist description and consent below are provided by the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association) 


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Please see the following links for additional information about Collaborative Law: