Susan K. Campbell, Ph.D.

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3 Reasons to Add a Child Specialist to the Collaborative Divorce Team

Posted on June 18, 2018 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (22)


3 Reasons to Add a Child Specialist to the Collaborative Divorce Team
by: Susan K. Campbell, Ph.D. | Originally published July 2016 on

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events one can experience. On the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, it ranks above going to jail, and is second only to the death of a spouse. When children are involved, parents’ emotions are especially high, as they contemplate the impact of the divorce on their relationships with their children, and ways to maximize the children’s emotional health and physical wellbeing. In the context of all that stress, it helps to have someone neutral assist you in thoughtful decision-making on behalf of your children.

The collaborative approach to divorce has many benefits; chief among them is the opportunity to work with an expert who supports both the parents and children – the Child Specialist. A child specialist is a licensed clinician who works with the parents and team to bring the children’s voices and needs to the divorce process. There are obvious good reasons for that, but here are 3 to think about:
You are the expert on your children. Sharing what you know about them with a professional who has deep and scientifically-based expertise in the experiences of children of different ages, temperaments, and special needs in the context of divorce will allow you to avoid a cookie cutter parenting plan. Instead, you will get feedback that allows for the crafting of a plan for co-parenting that meets the best interests of your unique family.

Children often have many unspoken thoughts and fears about the divorce process. No matter what their ages and how close they are to their parents, they often don’t want to make anyone more sad or angry, or cause problems that could make things worse. The child specialist does not provide therapy, but an opportunity for children to give voice to their emotions (and often misunderstandings) which can be shared with the parents in a careful way. Children feel heard, and parents have the opportunity address issues early and effectively.

A child specialist remains available to support the family with coaching after the divorce is final, as you continue to navigate the realities of the new way in which your family works.

You would go to a heart specialist for your heart, and an orthopedist for your bones. The collaborative model allows you to apply the same logic to your divorce, utilizing the unique expertise of team members to design an agreement that lets you to move forward in confidence and strength.