Collaborative Divorce: The Full Team Interdisciplinary Model, now available in the Triangle

Fox News ran a story when Tiger Woods divorced describing the collaborative divorce process used by Tiger and Elin Woods. The interviewer wondered skeptically how spouses experiencing the level of anger and emotional pain that often comes with divorce can have a ‘collaborative’ divorce, especially with difficult issues such as infidelity. But as national expert Dr. Ellie Izzo explained, that is exactly why this process works so much better than traditional adversarial divorce, as a team of compassionate experts help spouses navigate those painful emotions and come up with a settlement acceptable to both. Also importantly, whereas in adversarial divorce the children’s emotions and experience can unintentionally become collateral damage in the fight, this process protects the children from extreme emotional fallout by keeping the divorce as low conflict as possible.

Collaborative Divorce is a process for resolving disputes respectfully. A non-adversarial approach, it utilizes specially-trained lawyers and a team of professionals to help the spouses negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without using the court to decide any issues. Clients and their respective attorneys and team members work together toward the sole goal of reaching an efficient, fair, comprehensive settlement of all issues.

The Full Team Interdisciplinary Model of Collaborative Divorce allows for a private and dignified process to guide divorcing partners through their divorce while also preparing them for the future. Your team consists of six experts: a lawyer and a divorce coach for each of the clients, one financial specialist, and one child specialist. In this Expert-Team approach to divorce, you can be assured the major areas of divorce will each be attended to by a specialist in that area: experienced divorce attorneys provide legal advice and representation to each spouse, a financial planner certified in divorce financial planning will provide various short-term and long-term scenarios regarding division of property and cash flow, coaches assist in promoting effective communication and keeping the process on track, and a child specialist provides information on the many issues related to children and divorce and will act as the voice of the child.

Philosophy of Approach: It makes sense in life to utilize experts; it saves time, money, and frustration, and increases confidence in the outcome. The full team approach is a collaborative model based on the idea that building experts into the process from the beginning is the best way to ensure this. More experts does not mean more cost, because you do not have more conversations/meetings, you simply target those meetings by expert rather than discussing everything with attorneys. In fact, collaborative divorce has been found to cost less than traditional divorce. But perhaps even more importantly, at its foundation is the desire to provide a process in which partners can divorce in as amicable and respectful a manner as possible, a process dedicated to preserving the dignity and emotions of each adult and each child experiencing this life transition, that keeps parent-child relationships strong and sets the groundwork for a positive co-parenting relationship. Studies show that a collaborative settlement is reached faster than settlement in traditional divorce negotiation; greatly reduces the emotional trauma families experience in divorce, especially children; and results in increased cooperative co-parenting post divorce. In a nutshell, though the marriage is ending, the process protects the family.

Locally, the psychologists at Lepage Associates have training and experience in collaborative divorce (CD) to include the full team model, and can answer all of your questions about the process and help you assemble your team. Dr. Lepage was the first psychologist in the Triangle to become fully trained in collaborative divorce, and she continues to be the most highly trained and experienced mental health professional working in CD in this geographic area. Since 2004 Dr. Lepage has engaged in well over 150 hours of training in CD and mediation, and works with numerous families each year going though this transition. It is not surprising families in transition find Dr. Lepage’s assistance invaluable. Each of the other clinicians at Lepage Associates is mentored by Dr. Lepage in CD and also receives outside training as well. We would be happy to speak with you further.

Please call for information (919) 572-0000 or visit to learn more about services at our unique separation and divorce services Center, where we partner with attorneys and financial specialists to provide the highest quality separation and divorce services for adults and children in this transition.


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