Parties in the Collaborative Process may find that reaching resolutions involves not just their Lawyer but other professionals as needed, including Financial Specialists, Communication Coaches and, in the case of divorce, Child Specialists. These other professionals are neutral (they do not advocate for one party over another) whose role is to assist the parties in exploring complex issues more deeply, resolving conflict and promoting healthy and respectful communication.

Collaborative Lawyers are trained in and have made a commitment to the unique practice of Collaborative Law. The Collaborative Lawyer must be an advocate for and loyal to their client while also working closely with members of the Collaborative Team to ensure the best possible agreement is reached through exploration of acceptable options that meet the needs of the client, the client’s family and former spouse. The impact of possible solutions are considered not only in the context of the lawyer’s client but also the family as a whole. The Collaborative Lawyer will advise their client on all matters of law from child custody, development of parenting plans and support to financial settlements and property distribution. Each Collaborative Lawyer along with each party sign a participation agreement, agreeing that if negotiations break down the lawyers will withdraw and will not represent their client in any court proceeding.

Neutral Financial Specialists in Collaborative Practice can provide valuable information in understanding the financial implications of a settlement and exploring possible options in reaching a resolution. For example, they can help the parties accurately value assets, explain the tax effects of a proposed settlement and evaluate the effects of a proposed settlement. In divorce situations, these Financial Specialists can also assist the parties in establishing savings and retirement goals, or simply help them develop a budget that is in step with their financial situation. This advantage of working with a neutral financial professional helps to ensure that the financial consequences of a settlement are understood and not overlooked.

Collaborative Communication Coaches can help the parties move through the emotional dynamics associated with the conflict; identify underlying needs and wants; teach and model communication and problem-solving skills so that each party’s needs and interests can be clearly expressed. Coaches may serve as a consultant when there is an impasse in the negotiations. The Communication Coach in divorce and separation matters involving children may help the parties develop a road map for future relationships and family structures. In Collaborative Practice, Coaches will communicate with other Collaborative Team members, including each party’s lawyer, and may participate in Collaborative meetings.

A Child Specialist in the Collaborative Process will work with parents and children in separation and divorce to help guide parents and children in transitioning from one household to two and to work with parents to develop or strengthen effective co-parenting skills and to form a co-parenting plan for their children.

Members of the Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania avoid potential conflicts of interest by providing each party with individualized advice and private communications.  A party can choose a Collaborative Professional who best fits their specific needs and geographic location.