Collaborative Divorce

The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Divorce is a legal, financial, and emotional process. Divorce does not have to be devastating! Have you considered a Collaborative Divorce?

  • Are you and/or your spouse contemplating divorce?
  • Do you have concerns about the impact of your divorce on your children?
  • Have you worried about the cost of maintaining two households, dividing your assets, liabilities, and finances?
  • Do you wonder how you will move on and begin again?

Collaborative Divorce is an out of court legal process, whereby you will have a team of specially trained legal, financial, and mental health experts working together in a safe and amicable environment, guiding you and your spouse to develop options for reasonably dividing your marital estate, while you develop the necessary skills to live independent of one another, share your children, maintain the integrity of your family relationships, and move on, in peace.

Your Collaborative Divorce Team will include a specialized composition of professionals who will meet the specific needs of your family. This Team will include you, the divorcing couple, each of you being represented by a Collaborative Attorney, a Neutral Financial Professional, who will assist you to divide and utilize your resources in the best possible way to preserve your financial future and a Mental Health professional who will facilitate the process, and guide you and your Team toward making the necessary decisions toward the resolution of your marital issues in an efficient, cost-effective way.

As a part of this team, Dr. Heller promotes respectful communication, goal setting, problem-solving, and co-parenting; utilizing each member of the team’s knowledge, expertise, experience and input to creatively develop an action plan toward the dissolution of the marriage and the restructuring of their family while providing for the needs of the entire family.

Dr. Heller has researched and published her doctoral dissertation on Competency and the Role of the Mental Health Counselor in the Collaborative Family Law. She has presented on this topic both statewide and nationally and has also published several book chapters and articles on this topic.

Dr. Heller is a clinical fellow and approved supervisor of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), a long-standing member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). Dr. Heller serves as a Board member of The Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and is Chair of their Research Committee, is past President and Vice-President of The Collaborative Family Law Professionals of South Florida, a member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, and is an active member on the Research, Access to Collaboration and Higher Education Task Force Committees for the IACP.

Listen to my on-air broadcast on WLRN with the following link below:

Listen to my podcast on the role of the mental health professional in Collaborative Divorce:

The Various Role of the Mental Health Professional (MHP) in Collaborative Practice: What Do They Do? 
MHPs play an invaluable role in the Collaborative Divorce process for attorneys and clients alike.
For attorneys, the MHP serves as a critical resource by helping them understand their clients’ emotional triggers, fears, and concerns, and can provide crucial assistance in settlement negotiations by identifying emotional and psychological roadblocks to settlement—explaining how the clients’ feelings are inhibiting progress and suggesting a framework for more fruitful outcomes. MHPs can further assist attorneys in understanding how their own reactions and behaviors may be causing anger or annoyance to one or both clients and can recommend that the attorneys approach problems in different ways that will be better received by the clients.
For clients, although MHPs do not treat or diagnose clients when working in this process, the MHP on the Collaborative Divorce team is specially trained and can assist in identifying and handling the challenging client behaviors and can diffuse the intensity when the clients’ emotional and psychological challenges cause them to be reactive or get stuck.
MHPs can help guide the Collaborative Divorce team. Although not diagnosing and treating mental health issues, they can assess the client’s interactional patterns MHPs can share this information with the attorneys in order to increase the team’s understanding of the relationship dynamic.
Importantly, the MHP can help guide the Collaborative Divorce team in assessing whether couples who have struggled with intimate partner violence, coercive control, or substance abuse behaviors will be able to take part in the collaborative process by evaluating the extent of the violence and can offer suggestions on how to address behaviors that may interfere with a fair and sustainable settlement.
The MHP is present to work separately as a Coach or together as a Neutral Facilitator or Family Specialist with the clients to develop a “shared narrative” for how and when their children will be informed about their separation and divorce and to create a comprehensive Parenting Plan. MHPs can provide expertise in child development and the psychological impact of divorce on the family. They are able to help the clients establish parameters of their co-parenting relationship going forward, recognizing that a positive vision of the future requires moving past all of the hurt, fear, and angry feelings that result from the divorce process.
The MHP may additionally be included on a Collaborative Divorce team as a “Child Specialist” capacity, which brings the voice and needs of a child into the process. A Child Specialist does not provide therapy for children. They will meet with them and will then give the clients feedback on their children’s experiences, which helps the parents understand what the children are thinking and feeling and can improve their ability to talk to the children about difficult issues. The “Child Specialist” may also work with adult children of divorce as they too experience challenges and may need guidance and direction. In order to navigate difficult discussions. with their parents about their divorce.