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Child Professionals

Research confirms that divorce is not what harms children; it's how the divorce unfolds that damages children. The most harmful part of separation and divorce for children is high levels of conflict and distress. Studies have found that family conflict hurts children even more than parental death.

Therefore, the Family Law Act of British Columbia insists that parents who are separating put their children's best interests first. 


An effective way to protect your children from the damage of divorce is to include a Child Specialist on your Collaborative Team. 

The child specialist is trained in the collaborative family law model and acts as a neutral advocate for the interests of the children.  


The child specialist's role in this process differs from the role of the traditional child therapist and is not that of a custody and access assessor for litigation.  The child specialist can enter into the process at any time; their inclusion is not dependent on any special circumstances but can be initiated at the beginning of the collaborative process if only to provide the children with the welcome relief of being able to talk about their concerns.


The child specialist:

  • Advocates for the best interests of the child.  This involves assessing the characteristics and needs of the child and keeping the child’s needs in focus.

  • Provides a safe place for the child to share their story and discuss their concerns and interests without worry of being seen as taking sides or disappointing either parent.

  • Provides the parents with information and guidance to help their children through the process.  This involves sharing knowledge concerning developmental stages, attachment issues, and family dynamics which impact the children.

  • Gives the parents and their collaborative team an oral report to help develop an effective parenting plan.

  • Signs on to the Collaborative Participation Agreement, abiding by the understanding that the child specialist and other professionals on the collaborative team will not be involved in litigation if the parties leave the collaborative process.

  • Does not provide therapy for children, unless essential (e.g., a crisis), and then only with the parents' consent.  However, a child specialist can continue as a resource for the family post-separation.

  • Recommends therapy when needed.


The Child Specialist provides feedback to help focus the parents on the children’s developmental and psychological needs, putting into perspective parents' concerns about their children currently or long term.  Bringing specific information about the children’s lives (their age, temperament, special attributes) helps the parents shift from “my time/right” with the child to the “child’s time” with the parent.  This useful distinction prioritizes the child’s needs.


Child Specialists:


  • Licensed mental health practitioners and therapists with experience dealing with children and divorce

  • Can be brought in to act as a neutral advocate for the child

  • Can help communication between child and parents

  • Can provide a safe environment for the child to raise concer

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