The Taconic Counseling Group

Maria Alba-Fisch, Ph.D.

Collaborative Divorce

All of us have been worried about the negative effects of divorce on children. Research and clinical experience tell us that hostility between parents can be destructive to children's development when it continues both during and after a divorce, especially when the hostility centers around conflicts over the children. Increasingly, people have voiced concern that the adversarial model of law has, if anything, added to the high level of conflict that already exists between many divorcing spouses. Strategies used in adversarial law tend to increase the level of mistrust and hostility.  Mediation is an alternative, but one that, some fear, does not always sufficiently represent both parties' needs equally. Also, mediation is not structured to provide the emotional support and clarification that many divorcing families need and has no distinct provision for supporting the children.


Over the last decade, collaborative divorce has emerged as a new model for helping a family through a divorce, both emotionally and legally. This model is based on the knowledge that enduring solutions are best developed by the parties involved rather than imposed by an external judge. Lawyers and mental health workers, properly trained in collaborative divorce, can help people find agreements and solutions effectively despite the marital conflict. In this model, each spouse is represented by a lawyer to advise on law and has a mental health coach to help with the emotional roller coaster that complicates and often obstructs the divorce process.  In addition, a child specialist is called in to assist the children and assess their needs, and a financial specialist is enlisted to sort out financial arrangements and questions.  This team works collaboratively with the couple so that the divorcing spouses can make good decisions for their own and their children's future without going to court. All members of the team have a history of working together, are trained in collaborative methods and pledge to work towards solutions and not bring the divorce to court.


Some people worry that a team of professionals will be too costly. Others are convinced that the level of conflict is too high to benefit from any process other than a court battle. However, experienced collaborative practitioners report lower costs for the divorce, reduced stress for the spouses and children, greater speed, more workable solutions, and greater satisfaction.


TACONIC COUNSELING GROUP has a group of clinicians trained in collaborative divorce.  They have assembled a collaborative divorce team with lawyers, divorce coaches and financial advisers in Dutchess County who have had specific training and are committed to collaborative divorce as a new approach. For further information on the collaborative divorce team we coordinate, contact Dr. Maria Alba-Fisch at 845-896-7787.


To learn more about collaborative divorce on the Internet, go to our collaborative divorce website at