This isn’t a “walked into a bar” joke…. PROMISE.
What’s a group of attorneys, mental health professionals, financial advisors, and a public relations expert doing at the same conference table after hours on a Monday evening?
Saving the world, of course! Well, we think so. One family at a time.
That multi-disciplinary group of professionals at the conference table is the West Florida Collaborative Divorce board of directors. We are committed to making a difference in Northwest Florida by helping families access a more peaceful divorce alternative via collaborative practice.
Just like our board, the collaborative divorce process involves a team of specialized professionals. Mental health professionals, financial advisors and of course attorneys have always been involved with divorcing families. Instead of working independently, the collaborative process brings each of these specialized advocates to the same table – and the same team. Divorce involves legal, financial, and emotional stressors. A collaborative law team provides specialists to address each of these areas in a peaceful and organized manner.
In each of our disciplines, we see first hand the negative, and often long lasting, impacts of traditional adversarial divorce. We see life changing decisions being made by judges, who may have just met the family. We see spouses making uninformed or risky financial decisions. We see spouses terrified of making ANY financial decision. We see children struggling behaviorally and emotionally. We see shattered parent-child bonds and emotional injuries that sometimes take a lifetime to heal.
We believe there is a better way. We acknowledge the pain that is inherent in divorce, and certainly don’t suggest that collaborative divorce is free of these challenges. The acknowledgement of these struggles leads us to a more comprehensive way of meeting the needs. We are careful to address the difficulties as they arise, providing advocates for each potentially painful area, and work diligently to eliminate unnecessary collateral damage.
Collaborative professionals recognize the complexity of a family’s decision to divorce and the unique roles and limitations of each specialty area. We acknowledge we are stronger and more effective as a team. Think of the team as you would if you were building a house. I’m sure you have been careful to choose an excellent architect, plumber, electrician, and interior designer. You can’t wait to see it all come together. But can you imagine the disaster if these professionals never consulted the other, tried to do each other’s jobs, or even worse if one tried to do the job of all the others?!?
If you’ve made the decision to build a new life, know your options and let your local team of legal, financial and mental health professionals help. We believe you’re worth it.
Megan M. Stodard, Ph.D.
Dr. Megan M. Stodard is a Clinical Psychologist with over ten years of experience in the mental health field. She has practiced in Pensacola since 2014 and is the founder of Harbor Wellness Psychological Services. She is a certified collaborative divorce facilitator and serves on the West Florida Collaborative Divorce board of directors.