How Does a Child Specialist Help Children in a Divorce?

The entire family is impacted by the divorce process. A child specialist is a mental health professional who meets with the children to learn about their individual and specific need as they relate to the divorce process. The child specialist gives the children a voice in the divorce process. The child specialist helps the family restructure and create positive co-parenting skills for the future.

The Child Specialist in a Collaborative Divorce

It is not the divorce itself that negatively impacts the children, but the conflict they feel between their parents. When a child specialist is part of the collaborative team, they work to keep the conflict away from the children.

A child specialist will:

  • Meet with the children.
  • Meet with the parents.
  • Learn about the individual family and what each child needs.
  • Aid in establishing positive co-parenting skills.
  • Assist in creating a parenting plan for the future.

The specialist considers the developmental age of the children, their individual personalities, and shares that information with the rest of the Collaborative Divorce team, including the parents and attorneys. It helps everyone understand the specific needs of each child, and it gives the children a voice in the divorce process.

Child specialists are not directive. They do not say, “This is what you must do.” They help facilitate a conversation between the parents to assist the parents in creating their own plan that will work for their specific family and their individual children. Specialists can spend as much time with the children and parents as necessary.

What Happens with Children in Traditional Divorce Litigation?

Traditional divorce litigation pits parents against each other and both parents want to be the “winners” of their divorce. The family may meet with a mediator who has similar training and skills as a child specialist, but their role is different as is the scope of the work. The mediator may meet with the parents and the children for a very limited time. They spend just a handful of hours with the family and then issue a report to the judge recommending how the parents will spend time with their children. In litigation, the parents turn over their power and control to the court to determine how they will share time with their children in the future.

By utilizing the child specialist in the Collaborative Divorce process, parents are empowered to make their own decisions regarding their family’s needs. The children, through the child specialist, have a voice in the divorce process. The family is supported in creating an individualized plan that works for each member of the family.

This blog was originally posted on the Sacramento Collaborative Divorce website:

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