Mediation and Collaborative Law

Unfortunately, more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. That leaves the children of those families forced to confront the stressful and difficult emotional process of divorce. Psychology experts have concluded that it is conflict between parents that creates the largest emotional, behavioral, and social risk for children. Since a majority of what parents have to contend with in navigating a divorce is considered to be emotional, versus true law matters, it makes sense that mental health professionals serve in key roles to help families during a divorce.

Psychologists are experts in emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and family systems. A psychologist’s role as therapist requires strategies to improve communication, assist in managing emotions and anger control, and facilitate problem-solving and conflict resolution. When dealing with high-conflict divorce and children, Dr. Grbac provides his experience of developmental issues, mental health variables, family dynamics, and vast knowledge of divorce related issues to help families.

Parents are strongly encouraged to strive towards an agreement on all matters related to the children. When significant challenges remain, Dr. Grbac may best serve the interest of the children in one of several different roles. The following are options for which Dr. Grbac is trained and may lend much needed peace of mind, due to his background as a child and divorce specialist.

Mediation is a process whereby a neutral and impartial third person acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute without prescribing what it should be. It is an informal and non-adversarial process intended to help disputing parents reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Dr. Grbac is a State Certified Family Mediator. He is best equipped to facilitate families with conflicted issues regarding the children and time-sharing.  At times, Dr. Grbac is also used as a consultant during the mediation process, providing guidance as child specialist.

Collaborative Family Law is a relatively new approach to resolving family disputes in a healthy way, utilizing a team of professionals. The collaborative family process is based on a pledge to avoid court, with an open exchange of information, recognizing that when children are involved, relationships and obligations will continue. Each parent will maintain the support, protection, and guidance of his or her own attorney, who works in a collaborative fashion. The collaborative team also includes a neutral mental health professional and a neutral financial professional. Dr. Grbac will serve the team as the neutral mental health professional, and be responsible for helping to navigate the emotional issues in the interest of the children and family. He is an indispensable resource when matters of the children are at hand. The team works diligently, on the family’s time schedule, not the courts lengthy and unpredictable schedule. The team works in the interest of the family until a mutually acceptable agreement is reached, all accomplished without stepping foot into a courtroom.

While 15-25% of couples divorcing with children engage in bitter emotional disputes over who will obtain the right to raise the children, mediation and collaborative family law practices are strongly encouraged and preferred strategies. For some families, either a custody/parenting plan will be ordered by the court, or a Parenting Coordinator will be required.

If you have any questions about any of these services, or the roles that Dr. Grbac may serve to help your children and family, please do not hesitate to contact him directly.

Read Dr. John’s Article in Florida Bar Family Law Section Publication (pages 51-53)