Atlanta Collaborative Divorce Alliance

Collaborative Team

The Collaborative Team

The Atlanta Collaborative Divorce Alliance (ACDA) recognizes that, unlike most law suits, divorces and other family law matters involve relationships that have long histories. Many of these connections will also need to extend well into the future, especially when children are involved. Traditional litigation is not set up with these relationships in mind. Often, more damage is done to parents, children and extended families by the litigated divorce process than by any other event associated with a divorce. For this reason, ACDA utilizes a full team collaborative approach which includes attorneys, mental health professionals and financial professionals as part of the team whose purpose is to guide the parties through this major life transition. 

Attorneys

Each party has an attorney to advise him or her on legal issues. Attorney-client relationships are confidential and privileged, just as they are in the litigation model, but that is where the similarity ends.  In the litigation model, the attorney's job is to convince a judge to give his or her client what the client wants at any cost. Typically, this means that the parties are focused on everything they hate about each other. They feel that they have to present their spouse in the worst possible light to gain an advantage for themselves. Sometimes clients are not well educated about their options, so they do not realize that there may be more than one way to get a satisfactory result. Attorneys who have litigated family law cases know that no one wins and everyone loses - especially children - if relationships are destroyed by the fight.  ACDA Attorneys have received specialized training to convert their advocacy skills from those used in litigation to those that better serve the cooperative effort in which the parties and the collaborative team are engaged. ACDA attorneys are taught to refocus the parties on their common goals: to be able to meet their future financial needs; to have well-adjusted children who get the very best of what each parent has to offer; and to be able to move forward with their lives with dignity, in a way that causes as little disruption and trauma as possible for everyone in the family.

Mental Health Professionals

The Atlanta Collaborative Divorce Alliance has Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, and Professional Counselors who are specialiy trained to work on collaborative family law cases. These mental health professionals are not engaged to provide psychotherapy, but serve a variety of roles, depending on the clients' needs:

Divorce Coach:  Each of the divorcing parties will have a Divorce Coach who will assist the client in making sound decisions by helping the client manage their various emotions during a very stressful time. The clients, along with their respective Divorce Coaches, will also meet together to craft the Parenting Plan. The Parenting Plan is the portion of the final settlement agreement that specifies all of the issues related to the  care of the children. The Parenting Plan will cover such topics as parenting time, holiday schedule, vacations, decision making, conflict resolution, etc. The Divorce Coaches will offer their professional opinions to guide the parties toward a plan that will work in the best interest of the children. Communication difficulties are often present in divorcing couples. The Divorce Coaches will educate the parties in how to communicate effectively with their divorcing spouse during the divorce process, and most importantly, after the divorce. The Divorce Coaches are always looking out for the long term interests of the various members of the divorcing family. In some situations it may become necessary for the Divorce Coaches to attend client-attorney and /or financial meetings to assist the clients in expressing their own needs and concerns as well as help the client understand the material presented.

Child Specialist
:  When children are involved the Child Specialist is a valuable resource. Child Specialists assist the parents and the team in understanding the needs of the children and their emotional response to the pending divorce. The Child Specialist will meet with the parents to get input into their concerns for their children. During that meeting the Child Specialist will also obtain a developmental history of the children to assess for any special needs. The Child Specialist will then meet with the children to discuss their understanding and adjustment to the news of the pending divorce. The children may see the Child Specialist for a number of sessions to assist them in their adjustment to the new family situation. After meeting with the children the Child Specialist will meet with the parents and their Divorce Coaches to discuss all of the issues that need to be taken into consideration when crafting the Parenting Plan.

Financial Professionals

Neutral financial professionals such as
Certified Financial Planners (CFP®), Charter Financial Consultant (ChFC), Certified Divorce Financial Advisors (CDFA), and Certified Public Accountants (CPA), help the parties organize and work with financial information during their collaborative divorce. They help the parties to gather, organize, identify, understand and analyze financial information relevant to their property division. Qualified financial neutrals can provide specialized financial and tax advice concerning the impact of legal decisions on each party's current and future financial condition. The financial professionals in The Atlanta Collaborative Divorce Alliance will help clients understand numbers, predict their future needs and create a range of options they and their collaborative attorneys may consider in possible agreements. In the collaborative process, financial professionals are hired jointly by the parties, so they maintain their neutrality. ACDA financial professionals are compensated strictly on a fee-for- service basis, so their compensation for their involvement in the collaborative process cannot be tied to the sale of investment products, investment advice or commissions. Often, clients meet (together or separately) with the collaborative financial professional outside of joint meetings to make the most efficient use of the team's time and the clients' resources.
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