April 23, 2013

If We Have Custody Worked Out, Why Do We Need a Child Specialist?

Co-ParentingIf you are going through or thinking about starting a Collaborative Divorce, you might wonder why you need a Child Specialist.  After all, if you and your spouse agree on custody and parenting time (previously called “visitation”), why spend money on a Child Specialist?  As a Collaborative Attorney and Mediator, I enjoy helping parents with the parenting piece; however, I am not an expert in child development, and I don’t meet with the children.  Furthermore, I don’t want parents to come up with just any old plan – my wish for them is to succeed in their post-divorce co-parenting relationship and raise happy, healthy kids.

A Child Specialist helps you and your spouse create not only the day-to-day and holiday/vacation schedule, but helps you identify your goals and values as parents, so you can create a custom-made plan specifically addressing the unique needs of your children.  As parents in a fast-paced world, we need to determine the appropriate age for our kids to have a cell phone.  We need to think about how much screen time per day is healthy.  Is texting at the dinner table OK (not!)?  These are issues parents need to deal with at some point, but parents residing separately really need to be on the same page.  Child Specialists can assist with these decisions.  Clients often tell me how glad they are they hired a Child Specialist, because they are more in-tune with their children, and are therefore, better parents.

Child Specialists are valuable members of the Collaborative Team and are wonderful resources for parents.  Believe me, I know this personally because I consult with them when I have questions about my own kiddo!  Although you know your children the best (their funny little quirks, favorite color, best friend’s name, and so forth) Child Specialists know what makes children tick from a developmental perspective; thus, they are treasure troves of information.  Why not tap into that?  Think of it this way: would you rather spend the money on an expert who can guide you now to the land of great co-parenting or spend two, maybe three times or more on therapy for your kids later, because you and your spouse did the bare minimum to just get through the divorce (understandable – it’s a painful ordeal).  Consistency in parenting, as well as respecting and understanding your different parenting styles and personalities, can be the difference between a “so-so” parenting plan and a “so-good” parenting plan.  It’s easy to spend time and money on gadgets, toys, clothes, and activities for kids, so consider taking the time and money to invest in utilizing a Child Specialist to craft a parenting plan that will help you and your spouse co-parent effectively post-divorce.  I bet you’ll be glad you did!

Audra HolbeckABOUT THE AUTHOR
Audra Holbeck
Attorney, Holbeck Law Office

Audra’s office is in Woodbury, Minnesota and she limits her practice to Collaborative Family Law and Mediation. She received her degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. She has been actively involved in the Collaborative Law Institute since 2004 and is passionate about helping her clients create realistic and workable settlement options. She believes family disputes can (and should) be resolved outside the courtroom, in an environment that allows the family to reorganize, engage in healthy and effective communication, and move forward. Learn more at www.HolbeckLaw.com

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2 Responses to If We Have Custody Worked Out, Why Do We Need a Child Specialist?

  1. I could not agree more, Audra. I heard about a couple that assumed that it would be better to wait to sell the family home until after their oldest who was a junior went to college. Because the children had the opportunity to express their perspective, the parents learned that the child wanted to feel settled in her new home before going to college so she would feel like she had her own room to come home to while on college break. It is wonderful to give children a voice in the process.

  2. I couldn’t agree more as well, Audra. A parenting plan is so much more than when are the kids where. It is a roadmap of how decisions will be made in the future and the process creating it helps couples have a safe forum to discuss things and model a way of handling disagreements before the divorce is final. And the great thing is that couples can always come back to the specialist in the future if needed. Sometimes children ask to talk to the child specialist in the future because they can talk about something with them without hurting their parents’ feelings.

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