Application of the Medical Team Approach To Divorce
In medicine, the most effective way to maximize the complementary skill sets of health care workers is to work together as part of a physician-led team. A team-based approach often includes physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, case managers and other health care professionals. When a patient comes in with a broken arm, they are seen by the emergency room doctor, an x-ray tech, nurses, a radiologist, a surgeon if necessary, and then the recovery is aided by more nurses, physical therapists and of course family and friends. Members of the team share information and assist in decision making based on their unique skills – all with the common goal of providing the safest, best possible care to patients. Teams are build and put into place so that when a patient arrives with a busted arm, they are cared for by many and those parties work together. The more independent thought the better.
In family law, the norm traditionally has been for a person to engage a single attorney and for that attorney to develop the plan and execute the strategy of their entire case. The person has a single voice leading them through the most important event in their lives, other than death. Most parties never think of hiring other experts outside of what their legal team dictates. An expert engaged at the suggestion of their attorney does not qualify as a team member in my opinion. Typically the attorney restricts interaction between the client and expert, and so again the attorney dictates the course of action for the client.
We believe that a team approach in family law is needed and should become the norm in this context as well. The ideal divorce involves the parties going to a neutral private mediator, and surrounding themselves with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst to help compile and evaluate their financials, a divorce coach to help keep each party in a good frame of mind, a consulting attorney to advise them on them on strategy and evaluate their agreement from the client’s sole perspective exclusively, and mortgage and real estate professionals to help evaluate their property options and future opportunities. All of these individuals work for the client and provide guidance and advice to the client. Together they educate and arm the client with invaluable information and they deliver the mediator with an informed negotiator which is music to any mediator’s ears. If these professionals know each other, they can even more effectively for the client as they can communicate directly without formality which allows them to discuss details quickly and help formulate ideas to help the client.
As the founding partner of San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law, I can say with confidence that if I were to start a divorce tomorrow for myself, I would opt for mediation and build my personal team to help me attack the problems of my divorce. The problems of divorce don’t change from party to party. They are, for most couples, division of assets & debts, child & spousal support, and formulating of parenting problems. Thus surrounding yourself with emotional and financial expertise can only help you reach a fair agreement that allows you to move forward peacefully. I hope more professionals will become advocates for the team approach in family law as well.
Scott Levin is the founding partner of San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law (858-255-1321). He is an active member of The Academy of Professional Family Mediators and many other organizations that promote the benefits of family mediation. Scott is also a licensed attorney in the state of California as well as a leading Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in California. He chooses to practice in mediation because he believes that spouses and parents should stay in control of their own divorce terms and avoid conflict in court. Reducing conflict between divorcing parents can have a huge impact on the next generation of parents and he remains committed to helping clients creatively and peacefully attack the issues of divorce and not each-other. To schedule a free consultation, please visit https://sandiegofamilylawyer.net/schedule/.