Separation and Divorce Psychologist

I respectfully encourage you to consider couple’s therapy before moving forward with divorce. (Click here to go to our page for Couples Counseling/Marriage Therapy.) If you have decided with certainty to divorce, below we offer a sensible approach to a difficult life transition, one that protects the emotions and dignity of the adults and children involved.
Dr. Tina Lepage, Founder, Lepage Associates

THE CENTER FOR

SEPARATING
WITH CIVILITY

DIVORCING
WITH DIGNITY®

A Service Set
The highest quality divorce experts covering all of the emotional aspects of divorce, with service choices to fit each unique family.

A Mind Set
Dedicated to, and experienced in, keeping stress to a minimum and the process civil and dignified.

Divorce is difficult. We can help.
Civil. Dignified.
A Service Set and Mind Set for Preserving
the Well-Being of Individuals and Families.
Unique. Comprehensive.
Expert. Dignified.
 
The only Center in the
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

At The Center for Separating with Civility & Divorcing with Dignity®, our goal is to help facilitate your divorce process so that you (1) can be confident that you have the highest quality divorce experts attending to your needs, and (2) minimize stress for yourself and any children you may have. Click here for a brief, 1-page overview of our services; we also encourage you to use the links below which provide more in-depth information on our services, as well as some helpful resources for individuals and families going through divorce.

Description of Our Expertise Specific to Divorce

  •  All of the psychologists at Lepage Associates have expertise helping people who are going through separation and divorce. As a family practice we have specialists across the lifespan to include work with children of all ages and adults.

Parenting Plan Assistance/Mediation, Custody Evaluations, and Other Evaluations for Use in Determining Custody

  • If you have children, your separation and divorce agreement will have to address your plan for sharing time, typically referred to as your parenting plan or custody schedule. We offer expert advice based on child development and your family’s unique needs to help you consider various schedules. We provide parenting plan assistance/mediation to help parties reach decisions on the various issues involved in parenting plans and custody arrangements. Parenting plan assistance/mediation is not a lengthy, expensive, or adversarial process. Parents can often come to agreement in 2-6 sessions, which is much more cost effective than using attorneys to send offers and counter offers back and forth or than going to court. Consulting with someone who is an expert in child development and custody can help parents make a decision that they have confidence in. For couples who need more in-depth information to make choices on this topic, we can provide a full custody evaluation. A custody evaluation is also used by couples who cannot come to an agreement on the schedule and want to use the custody evaluation in court. Other evaluations, such as a psychological evaluation or parental capacity evaluation of one or both parties, may also be used to help determine custody. Occasionally an evaluation of just the child is requested.

Coaching for Cooperative Co-Parenting or Parallel Parenting

  • From the moment of separation you and your spouse begin functioning as co-parents; learn how to make this relationship work well for you and your child(ren). We focus on effective communication, navigating differences in parenting styles and agreeing upon difficult topics, low-conflict joint decision-making, and moving beyond past hurt to forge an amicable co-parenting team for the benefit of your child (and yourself as well). Offered in various formats: 1-1 general meetings with a clinician, both parents meeting together with the clinician, or you can use one of our psychoeducational formats and take a group Cooperative Co-Parenting Class or use the Personalized Cooperative Parenting Seminar approach.

Reunification Therapy

  • Reunification Therapy is a form of family therapy designed to repair a rift between a parent and child. It is often court-ordered when a parent-child contact problem has culminated in the child refusing to spend time with one parent. This type of refusal is typically seen in separated or divorced families in which there is a ‘favored’ parent and a ‘rejected’ or ‘disenfranchised’ parent. It can also be entered voluntarily without any court order. The goal of reunification therapy is, as the name implies, to repair the relationship of a parent and child who have become disconnected in some way.

Adjunct Support & Therapy Services

  • Now that your future will be unfolding in a different direction than you had once imaged, we offer life transition counseling as you rework your life plan. Also, for adults and teens, individual supportive therapy through this difficult time, and for children, supportive and therapeutic play therapy.

Divorce and Conflict

  • Divorce is a time of painful feelings, and it is not surprising that people experiencing painful emotions engage in conflict. Ultimately though, the stress of conflict has many negative effects on both adults and children. Read here to learn more about the research on divorce conflict and its effects, as well as ways to minimize conflict.

The ABCs and 1,2,3s of Helping Children Through the Divorce Process

  • Written by Tina Lepage, Psy.D. Dr. Lepage has extensive experience working with individuals, couples, parents, and children going through divorce. In this article she addresses the practical concerns of telling the children of the decision to divorce, transitioning a family into two households, and co-parenting effectively through developing a positive shared parenting relationship.

Dealing with Divorce: 10 Tips To Protect Your Kids

  • Written by Lepage Associates’ staff psychologist, based on doctoral dissertation on the effects of marital conflict and divorce on children and adolescents. Specifically, researcher determined the protective factors within the family and within the parent-child relationship that serve to reduce the stressfulness of marital conflict and divorce.

Definitions of Various Divorce Approaches

  • In researching divorce, you may come across the terms: do-your-own-divorce, mediation, traditional/adversarial divorce, collaborative divorce, and divorce expert-team. Here we provide you with a brief description of each approach. We are also available for an Informational Consult, in which you can come in and describe your specific situation, and we can help you consider what approach might best fit your needs.

Traditional Divorce

  • Traditional divorce is based on the adversarial model. In an adversarial divorce, the attorneys communicate the terms of offers and counteroffers to try and reach a settlement. When impasses arise, outside experts (typically financial or child specialists) may be used. If impasses cannot be worked out, the case ultimately proceeds to litigation. The issues in separation and divorce are complex, and men and women separating and divorcing have been seeking the help of psychologists for some time. There are a variety of ways in which psychologists that specialize in relationships, families and children can help to make this process less stressful for everyone involved.

Full Team Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce

  • In this Expert-Team approach to divorce, you can be assured that the major areas of divorce will each be attended to by a specialist in that area: experienced divorce attorneys will provide legal advice and representation to each spouse, a financial planner who is certified in divorce financial planning will provide various short-term and long-term scenarios regarding division of property and cash flow (i.e., alimony and/or child support), coaches will assist in promoting effective communication and keeping the process on track, and when children are involved a child psychologist who specializes in divorce will provide information on the many issues related to children and divorce. The main difference between this approach and non-full-team collaborative divorce is that outside experts are built into this process from the beginning, resulting in many less impasses and overall a process that flows very well as potential road bumps are preemptively identified and effectively handled by the expert team.

Collaborative Divorce

  •  The law profession has taken notice of people’s desire to move through separation and divorce in a low-conflict manner, and has developed what they call collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce is a process that uses specially trained attorneys to assist families with separation and divorce. This approach may also involve the efforts and expertise of child specialists or financial specialists. Collaborative law is a set of voluntary ground rules entered into by separating/divorcing couples and their specially trained attorneys. While the details vary from collaborative lawyer to collaborative lawyer, the central idea is that the lawyers agree in advance they will not take the case to trial.

Mediation/Facilitation Models

  • The mediator’s role is to help you and your spouse communicate and reach consensus; mediators cannot give legal advice, and mediation is not a substitute for legal representation. (If you are already using this model with another mediator, the psychologists can also be helpful in a variety of complementary ways; please click below on traditional divorce, parenting plans/custody evaluations, and adjunct support and therapy services for more information.)