Archive for October, 2013

The Collaborative Process can lessen the impact of divorce on young children.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

If you have young children and are thinking about divorce, the collaborative method can benefit your children immensely.  Babies and young children can pick up on stressors that their parents are feeling without understanding what is causing the change.  It’s a very difficult time for all involved and can cause children to regress (ex. return to bedwetting) or withdraw from family and friends.  You might notice changes in their eating or sleeping as well as their overall behavior.  Parents who are in high conflict can sometimes damage the young child’s attachment to both of them.  Children can begin to feel insecure, unsure and have less trust.  Divorce in itself is not damaging to children, but rather it’s the conflict between two parents that is devastating to a young child.


The collaborative process can really help to support the continued healthy development of your child during a divorce.  In this process the parents can choose to work with a divorce coach.  The coach is your divorce facilitator and can help you to manage your own feelings in order for you to address your child’s needs and feelings.  Parents can develop an agreeable parenting plan that enhances your child’s chances that they will feel safe, secure and loved by both parents all the while they are adjusting to a new family situation.

Coaches can provide assistance along the way to help parents in some of the following ways:

  • Teach parents to avoid loyalty binds which make children feel like they are in the middle
  • Teach parents to communicate about their children’s needs
  • Teach parents to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship (consistent routines and limits)
  • Teach parents how to address their child’s feelings
  • Teach parents to focus on the needs of young children
  • Develop a parenting plan that promotes healthy social emotional development and attachment

Here are some tips to help your child with visits between parents:

  • Give children transition time or notice ahead of time when they will be going to their other parent’s house
  • Allow regular phone calls or short video visits at a specific time each day
  • Put a picture of the other parent in the child’s room at each home
  • Take an object the child loves from home to home such as a stuffed animal or blanket
  • For older children use a calendar each day so they know what to expect

Here are some resources for your continued reading about early childhood development:

The Impact of Separation and Divorce on Young Children and Their Families” (Zero to Three, 2012) or these websites:

JoAnn Cobb

JoAnn Cobb is a collaborative divorce coach with Child and Family Services of NH.

How does the Collaborative Divorce Process differ from directed mediation?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Sometime people hire a mediator after they start a court-based or litigated divorce. Otherwise known as “directed mediation,” this model involves clients and their lawyers being assigned two separate rooms. The mediator performs a kind of shuttle diplomacy between the two rooms and the parties have no contact. The lawyers present their clients’ positions and the mediator convinces both sides to meet somewhere in the middle. The mediators who are most effective at this process tend to be seasoned family law litigators who have seen their fair share of court orders; some are former marital masters or judges who have decided divorce cases. The goal of the mediator is to persuade both sides of the downside risks they face at trial and to push a compromise. This process is often accomplished in one marathon of a day that can last up to seven or even eight hours.

When compared to the Collaborative Process, the benefits of directed mediation are as follows:

  • The clients do not sit at the negotiation table together and need not directly engage in discussion with each other.
  • Difficult emotional dynamics between the parties can be avoided.
  • There can be costs savings if the case is successfully mediated in the early stages of the litigation process.

The downsides of a directed mediation include:

  • Both parties may have already spend a great deal of money on litigation before engaging in a directed mediation.
  • They may need to co-parent for many years post divorce and have not addressed any of their communication issues.
  • Clients end the day of mediation worn down and just wanting it to be over, which can cloud their judgment regarding settlement.
  • The process is controlled by the mediator and the lawyers rather than the clients.
  • Clients are focused on their strategic positions rather than their or their spouse’s specific or unique needs and concerns.

The Collaborative Process provides the best of both worlds between a litigated and a directed-mediation divorce in the following ways:

  • Decisions are made through a series of two-hour face-to-face meetings, which enables the clients to process complex information at their own pace.
  • A neutral financial professional assists the clients, who are able to make financial decisions with an eye to their future authentic needs, goals and concerns.
  • Parents are able to work with a child specialist/divorce coach – who is a specially trained mental health practitioner –  to formulate parenting plans that are in the best interests of their children.
  • With the help of the coach, couples are able to address some of their communication concerns to help move them towards rational decision-making and less emotional stress  as they work to settle the terms of their divorce.

The Collaborative Process results in a more durable and higher-quality settlement than does the directed- mediation divorce. For parents, it provides the opportunity to attend children’s or grandchildren’s significant life events with the joy and lack of stress that all parents desire as they imagine their future lives after the divorce.

Lisa Forberg, Esq.

Lisa Forberg, Esq.

 Attorney Lisa Forberg is a collaborative divorce lawyer with Forberg Law in Manchester, N.H.