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Collaborative Divorce with a Child Specialist: Your Children’s Best Interest First

July 25, 2013
Click the photo to visit David's website

Click the photo to visit David’s website

This is the tenth in a multi-part series by A Better Divorce member David Kuroda, LCSW Division Chief, Mediation and Conciliation Service Superior Court of Los Angeles (ret.) titled CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES: AVOIDING TRIAL, RESPONSES TO THE UNPRECEDENTED REDUCTIONS IN COURT FUNDING – A BILLIONAIRE CHOOSES COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE.  The article is one of 16 in the family reference materials of The Family Law Symposium, the major family law event for attorneys in So. California.  Click here to read through more articles by David.

PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD V. BEING HONEST ABOUT ONE’S LIMITATIONS

A father, who may want to hide his ignorance of an infant’s needs during an evaluation, presents himself differently in collaborative divorce, and is more likely to be honest and seek the recommendation of a child specialist. It’s like being in a classroom and the teacher asking if everyone understands. We’re afraid to admit we don’t know if the consequences hurt. With the child specialist in collaborative family law, the parents know we’re there to help, not to judge. Because there is no report submitted to the court, parents are free to discuss their fears and concerns, without the fear that their admissions will be used against them.

THERAPISTS V. COACHES

Therapists don’t always help in a divorce case. Well, a correction. They help the person, but they may not be helpful in the divorce process. A professional therapist was going through her own divorce. Her husband was strong and assertive; she was considerate and often put his needs ahead of hers. During her therapy, her therapist had been helping her to become more assertive. Her husband hadn’t picked up his clothes as promised, so she decided to act.  She told him to come and get his clothes. He didn’t respond immediately, so she issued a confident ultimatum. “If you don’t come to get your clothes by Saturday, I’m going to dump them on the driveway.” Her therapist was proud of her; she was proud of herself. Sure enough, her husband didn’t respond to her request, so she dumped his Armani suits and Ferragamo shoes in the driveway. He planned on picking up his clothes Sunday morning, but late Saturday night, it rained. A coach would have given her better advice. Coaches care about personal growth but they care more about a good divorce and happy children.

Coaches in collaborative law help parents work out their differences and promote the behaviors that result in agreements and resolution. They listen to the story of the divorce as background for understanding the dynamics of the relationship, and help parents do the things that are necessary to resolve disputes not exacerbate them. Although our proximity to Hollywood might lead one to think we are a city of happy families and happy endings, there are many unhappy families who end up in divorce. A father who was particularly upset at the prospect of paying child and spousal support to the mother of his children, the same wife who was having an affair, was helped through the process by his coach. Coaches help parents deal with the difficult emotions of divorce. The goal is not insight as much as it is to help the parents get through the divorce while maintaining respect and dignity.

Learn more about Collaborative Divorce

David 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, he was responsible for the district courts, the PACT and Contemnors’ Programs, Divorce Seminars, and Visitation Monitors. Under his leadership, the service set high standards for the mediation service and other innovative programs serving children and families of divorce.

He has served on numerous committees with the Judicial Council, Los Angeles County Bar Executive Committee, Family Law Section, and has collaborated on numerous programs with the bar associations of the South Bay, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, and Long Beach. He’s the past vice-president of A Better Divorce: A group of collaborative professionals; he also serves as vice-president of the California Social Welfare Archives., on he advisory board of the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association, and was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) California Chapter and with the George Nickel Award by the California Social Welfare Archives, USC.

In addition to directing the program, he has personally provided mediation services to over 7,000 families from the working poor to the wealthy and famous, including high profile cases and movie producers. Virtually all parents, whatever their backgrounds, love their children, and with some guidance, have been able to work together, even after divorce. Mr. Kuroda has provided training for graduate students from USC, and has taught professionals child custody mediation.

Always consult a professional in your area.

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