Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: The Role Of The Family Relations Specialist In Collaborative Divorce

When a couple decides on a collaborative divorce, each party must engage his or her own attorney; preferably an attorney who has been trained in the collaborative model.  There are other professionals that can be engaged and it is up to the parties and their attorneys to decide if other professionals are appropriate.  There are two types of professionals that are part of the Cincinnati Collaborative Group Practice.  These are family relations specialists (“FRS”) and financial neutrals.  This post addresses the role of the family relations specialist.


Our family relations specialists are all psychologists or trained therapists.  Generally speaking, the FRS uses their specialized skills and training to coach people through the major transition of ending their marriage.  In addition to the purely legal considerations in a marital termination, social, emotional and parenting concerns are among the many issues competing for the couple’s attention.  The goal is to navigate through these non-legal variables in order to reach an agreement that successfully addresses the financial goals of the parties as well as the future needs of all family members.


A family relations specialist can assist in the following ways:

  • Help clients to manage their stress and minimize the stress that could interfere with the negotiation process.
  • Help clients clarify their priorities for the divorce and their life after divorce.
  • Facilitate a problem-solving approach to difficult negotiations.
  • Be a voice for the children, including educating parents about psychological, emotional and developmental implications of divorce-related dynamics and decisions upon children.
  • Facilitate clear and constructive communication in negotiations.
  • Help clients navigate emotionally charged issues with clarity and safety.
  • Assist in creating a thoughtful parenting plan that addresses the developmental and emotional needs of the children.


In most collaborative cases when an FRS is used, the parties meet with the FRS prior to the first collaborative meeting.  It is up to the FRS as to whether this meeting will be individual or joint.  In many cases, the FRS participates in the team meetings although there are some cases where an FRS is engaged only for the purpose of meeting with the parties privately and assisting with the issues at hand, which may, for example be, the development of a parenting plan or improved communication.  This decision is up to the parties and their attorneys.