Your divorce attorney is a highly skilled professional who will guide you through the legal options and procedures involved in your divorce. Much of what your attorney handles is complex, applying intricate legal statutes and precedents to the ever-evolving facts of the case. Attorneys are skilled in explaining the law, analyzing situations, providing advice about the options available, and managing all the documents, procedures, and appearances involved in a divorce.
Attorneys have training in helping clients through a divorce, but they are not mental health professionals, and they are not social workers. Since much of a divorce involves life changes, emotional challenges, and deeply personal situations and reactions, it can be helpful to work with someone skilled in providing that type of support.
What is a Divorce Coach?
A divorce coach is a trained professional who works directly with one litigant in a divorce case. They provide emotional support and can also interpret legal documents and situations. Divorce coaches often help with communication, assisting you in maximizing your time with your attorney and creating more effective communication with your co-parent.
These professionals are useful in helping you focus, considering the long-term impact of decisions you are facing, determining what you really want, offering alternatives, and keeping you on track. It can be useful to think of them as project managers, keeping an eye on the big picture for you and drawing your attention to the most crucial areas necessary at each step of the process.
Divorce coaches join your divorce team and can be a valuable addition to your lawyer, therapist, financial advisor, and other experts you may hire, such as business or asset evaluators, private detectives, child custody evaluators, and more. They work on all types of divorce – those that are resolved through settlement, those that use alternative dispute resolution (ADR, which includes mediation, collaborative law, and arbitration), or those that are litigated and go to trial.
Who Needs a Divorce Coach?
Anyone going through a multifaceted divorce can benefit from a divorce coach. Consider working with a divorce coach if:
- You are finding it difficult to step away from your anger about the divorce.
- You feel overwhelmed by the divorce process.
- You know you are not thinking clearly.
- You can’t find a parenting plan that works.
- You and the other parent cannot communicate.
- You can’t effectively sort through the options your attorney provides.
- You are unsure what you really want out of the divorce.
- You are struggling with the transition to single life or single parenthood.
- You want to delegate much of the decisions and work involved in the divorce process.
A divorce coach is also useful if you just want a professional who is very available to you and can take your call when you need to talk about the divorce. Some people describe divorce coaches as similar to life coaches, but in fact, they are highly specialized consultants who are trained in the process, its challenges, the options involved, and the solutions that can assist people in moving through it.
Benefits of Using a Divorce Coach
There are a variety of benefits associated with using a divorce coach.
- Increased support for decreased fees. Your divorce coach charges less per hour than your attorney and is more available to you when the need arises. You can access assistance more easily and spend less for it than if you rely on your attorney.
- Provide structure and organization. Much like a project manager, your divorce consultant ensures that the trains run on time – that documents are returned within necessary time frames, that you meet your obligations, and that you fulfill the requirements set for you by your attorney and the court. You don’t have to worry about losing track of something or forgetting as they function as your personal assistant for the divorce process.
- Improve communication with your co-parent. Your attorney generally would prefer not to be involved in every communication you have with the other parent, but in many divorces, parents are absolutely unable to communicate with each other. A divorce coach can help you manage that communication process, teach you negotiation and de-escalation skills, and assist you in crafting a new communication style with the other parent.
- Offer problem-solving. Often when you are stuck or feel at a loss during a divorce, it is because you’re having difficulty seeing all of the options. A divorce coach can problem-solve for you, finding resources, new solutions, adjustments to existing situations, and a fresh take on anything you are confronting in your divorce. Some divorce coaches have backgrounds as financial planners and can be very useful when there is a closely held business or a wide variety of assets involved in the divorce process.
- Manage emotions. Most divorce coaches have mental health training and are excellent at assisting with the difficult emotions involved in divorce. They provide a form of support you can’t find in family or friends who too often are not neutral or do not have the training to help you through the mental ups and downs involved in a divorce.
- Envision outcomes. When you are in the middle of a divorce and faced with myriad decisions about parenting, money, real estate, taxes, businesses, and the impact on your career and/or brand, it can be challenging to truly see the possible consequences of the various outcomes. A divorce coach can help you extrapolate and envision the aftermath of each decision you are considering, making it easier to isolate the pathway that will work best for you.
- Provide focus and perspective. Complex divorces often have so many moving pieces that it can be difficult to know what to focus on. Divorce coaches help you separate emotion from fact and isolate the problems that need to be solved immediately. They are able to ask the questions that you should be answering and can help you make the necessary decisions that will allow you to craft a healthy post-divorce life.
How to Find a Divorce Coach
The best way to locate an experienced life coach is by asking your divorce attorney for a referral. Additionally, your therapist may be able to recommend one. If family or friends have successfully used a divorce coach, you can ask for the name. Divorce coaches should have obtained training specifically in divorce coaching and should have a background in law, mental health, or finance.