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The Right Person For The Right Job

MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: Hi, I’m Monica Donaldson Stewart and I’m a family law attorney in Chandler, Arizona.

DANIEL GAUGHAN: Hello, I’m DJ Gaughan. I am a psychologist and a family law professional and my office is in Central Phoenix.

MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: One of the things that I’ve noticed in a traditional divorce is that the attorney is basically called upon to wear a lot of different hats. We are expected to fill whatever our client’s needs are in that moment. And as an attorney, that’s pretty much what I’m trained to do. So I find that in the collaborative process, we have the opportunity to allow our clients to work with the right professional for their right need. Since I’m not a mental-health professional, I’m not there to provide the kind of support in helping them to communicate or helping them to facilitate their agreements.

Do you have the same experience? Do you find that to be the case?

DANIEL GAUGHAN: Oh, absolutely, sure. And my traditional role has been in litigation cases where I’m asked to offer an opinion to the court. “This parent has these strengths, the other parent has those strengths, these are the issues with the children, and how does this all fit together.” So I’m offering opinions to the court and then the court makes decisions about what happens based on that.

I prefer to approach families from the idea that you guys know what’s best for your kids, so let’s figure it out together. And the collaborative-law process is just exactly about that, so it’s a wonderful fit for what my inclinations have been and my practices have been for many years. And I really enjoy the opportunity to work with people who come into this setting knowing they’re going to be cooperative and they’re going to work for the best interest of the children rather than coming in, banging heads, and saying, “I got to win.”

MONICA DONALDSON STEWART: Right, exactly.