September 2, 2013

The Broken Circle Project

What are the stories that adult children of divorced parents have to tell?  This was the question that sparked an incredible project by photographer Karen Klein, culminating in two Broken Circle books.

Karen interviewed young adults in the U.S. and Dominican Republic asking two questions: how was your life affected by your parents’ divorce at the time it happened, and how has their divorce affected your plans for the future?  The responses from the participants are authentic, heartfelt and eloquent, and the candid photographs accompanying the text add a valuable dimension to the stories.

Not surprisingly, many of the stories have raw and painful edges. Divorce is extremely difficult for children. The young adults in the Broken Circle project who experienced feelings of abandonment and loss, or those for whom parental conflict was high or remains active are still struggling to find equilibrium and a sense of emotional security. Many participants acknowledged to Karen that this was the first time they could remember having the opportunity to talk about how they felt about the divorce.  Their participation in the project was cathartic and healing.

However, what is hopeful is that not all the stories were negative or bleak.  The young adults whose parents had divorced in a respectful or amicable way, and those whose parents were on friendly terms as co-parents tended to express acceptance, balance and hope for the future. It also seemed these young adults had not experienced the divorce as a taboo subject for discussion while growing up.

Collaborative Team Practice is a way to divorce with dignity and respect. The process helps a divorcing couple make a successful transition to effective co-parenting through advocacy from skilled and compassionate Collaborative attorneys and expert support from a Neutral Coach. The Neutral Child Specialist on the team ensures that children’s voices will be heard in a safe way, and that children will experience support at a critical juncture in their lives.  The Neutral Financial Professional helps divorcing parents create financial resolutions tailored to meet their specific needs as the family restructures.

Though the family circle will not be the same, Collaborative Team Practice can help ensure that the new family constellation is not “broken” but transformed so children’s stories in the future will primarily be those of hope.

Deborah Clemmensen
Licensed Psychologist

Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq., Licensed Psychologist was a child and family clinician for many years before her discovery of Collaborative Team Practice in 2000 motivated the transformation of her professional role from therapist to Neutral Child Specialist. This work---hearing the voices of every family member during a divorce or break up, keeping children at the center and out of the middle, and assisting parents in the creation of developmentally responsive parenting plans---is both a passion and a privilege. Find out more about Deborah's work at

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