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The Child Specialist and the Coach in Collaborative Divorce

November 14, 2011


image Clare Bloomfield/


There are significant differences between the traditional adversary system of evaluations and the role of the child specialist and coach.

1. The information from the child specialist is given to the persons who need it the most, the parents. Like a mediation session for child custody, the child specialist interviews the child or children, and shares impressions with the parents first.

  1. There are no depositions; there is no cross examination. The child specialist doesn’t have to spend countless hours on tests and interviews in anticipation of being questioned later. It’s like the physician who conducts extra tests and procedures, not because the patient needs it, but because not to do so could expose the physician to malpractice law suits.
  1. There is no written report that can be read years later by the children. Much damage is done when allegations, affairs, abuses are, “reduced to writing;” actually, writing allegations and critical impressions doesn’t usually reduce the harm. Many things contribute to a divorce and children seldom benefit when they hear the worse about their parents.
  1. Child specialists are able to actually help parents. Unlike like the evaluators who like judges at an Olympic ice skating event don’t develop relationships with the skaters, child specialists are seen as consultants, as helpers, to parents.

Parents don’t sue Child Specialists or report them to the licensing boards. Private child custody evaluators and even the old Psychiatric Office, formerly based at the Superior Court of Los Angeles, have been sued. Complaints by unhappy litigants are being submitted to the state board that licenses mental health professionals. There have been no law suits or complaints to the licensing boards about coaches or child specialists in collaborative law

Mr. Kuroda is the former Division Chief, Family Court Services, Superior Court of Los Angeles and directed the Mediation and Conciliation Service, the first and largest court mediation program in the nation. In his 18 years with the Superior Court.

In addition to directing the program, he has personally provided mediation services to over 8,000 families, and has made presentations on collaborative divorce, mediation and divorce to numerous groups of attorneys and mental health professionals. He is a member of A Better Divorce, LAWCDP, the LA Collaborative Family Law Association, and CDRC. He serves on the Family Law Executive Committee, LA County Bar Association. He was recognized by the National Association of Social Workers, NASW, California, with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003; he was honored for his contributions to help establish Collaborative Divorce by Collaborative Practice California; in 2007 with the George Nickel Award, California Social Welfare Archives.

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