A divorce has legal, financial, and emotional components. The legal aspect includes education around the laws regarding divorce, completing the permanent parenting plan if applicable, drafting the marital dissolution agreement, and filing all necessary forms with the courts. The financial aspect includes making decisions regarding the division of assets and debts, calculating child support, and deciding on spousal support. And the emotional aspect…. whew, there are a lot of emotions involved in a divorce Most people receive support for the legal and financial aspects through their attorney and/or a financial professional. Historically they have also looked to their attorney for the emotional support. But neither of those professionals are trained or have expertise in supporting this area. If you only tend to two out of the three areas, it can be like sitting on a three-legged stool. You’re going to fall.
Enter the role of the Divorce Coach – the professional who attends to the emotional and organizational pieces. There are different types of divorce coaches out there, so make sure you understand the services you’re seeking and a potential coach’s experience and qualifications. Some divorce coaches focus on post-divorce rebuilding. Others focus on working with one spouse through the process. Some mediators provide a few of these services under pre-mediation work. Others, like myself, have multiple credentials. For example, I am a licensed therapist, a certified mediator, and a Collaborative Divorce Coach. This allows me to be involved in many aspects of divorce. The overall goal of divorce coaching is to help you and your family get through this so you can survive and thrive on the other side. It is my mission to mitigate the destruction the legal system can have on individuals and families.
Here are 10 ways working with a Divorce Coach can help you through your divorce:
1. Provide organization and structure
Divorce coaches understand the process of divorce. They know what steps need to be taken and when to get you from start to finish. Providing a framework and step-by-step instructions can reduce anxiety for you. Divorce is overwhelming. On top of managing your already busy life, there are numerous tasks to be accomplished and decisions to be made. A divorce coach helps you manage those.
2. Save time and money
Attorneys definitely have their role in divorce. But a tremendous amount of pre-work can be done before attorneys ever enter the picture. Or a divorce coach can work in tandem with your attorney. If you and your spouse sit down with two attorneys at $300 per hour for 4 hours to create a parenting plan, this will cost $2400. A divorce coach can help you document your parenting plan. Let’s say the coach’s rate is $200 per hour. A 4-hour parenting plan meeting will be $800.
A divorce coach keeps things moving forward, assigns homework, and checks in for completion. This speeds up the process and can help you complete your divorce in a more efficient and timely manner. Most litigated divorces take 2 + years. Even if you do an agreed divorce, there is no “project manager” for the attorneys to keep things moving forward. You’re at the mercy of when an attorney has time to attend to your case. Great attorneys have busy practices and their schedules are dictated by court dockets or other emergency issues that take priority.
3. Add other professionals
A divorce coach can recommend and link you to ancillary professionals that may be needed for your divorce. When it is appropriate to pull in a financial expert, a business valuation, a tax expert, or attorneys, a divorce coach is going to bring in those support systems.
4. Create a robust parenting plan tailored to your family
A divorce coach knows how to develop quality parenting plans based on different schedule options and needs of children at different developmental stages. They listen to the unique factors and needs of your family. They can help generate options and ideas to tailor plans to your situation.
5. Teach you healthy co-parenting skills so your children still feel loved
A divorce coach will provide you information and skills you need to learn for healthy co-parenting communication. Communication was likely an issue in your marriage, and you have to learn a different set of communication skills to transition your communication from married to co-parents. A divorce coach can provide concrete feedback on how to improve and facilitate smoother communication.
6. Approach divorce with a problem-solving mindset
A divorce coach is here to help you find solutions and reach agreements, rather than play hardball negotiation and go to war. You and your spouse are doing a very brave and courageous thing by approaching divorce with the intention do it “well.” That doesn’t mean it’s easy or there will be no conflict. It can be helpful to have a neutral party facilitate the communication when you’re making decisions (crafting parenting plan, discussing options for financial division, etc.) so that the conversation stays productive and doesn’t blow up. Or to help you learn how to communicate and respond in a way that does no escalate situations.
7. Reduce conflict and emotional trauma
Divorce is emotional. There is no way around that. A divorce coach can help you individually process your emotions, learn coping skills and emotional regulation tools so that your divorce does stay as amicable as possible. This will reduce conflict and therefore the trauma of the divorce itself. And keep your kids protected from a contentious battle. If the coach is working with both spouses, then he/she works to reduce conflict between the two of you and teach you healthier communication skills. The more you are in control of your emotions, the better decisions you can make in negotiations for your future life.
8. Provide coaching and a listening ear to work through the grief
Divorce is a gut-wrenching grief process. No one likes grief. It is painful. It sucks. And the only way to work through it is to go through it. A divorce coach helps you understand what is happening and why from a grief perspective, which normalizes your emotions and provides hope that it won’t always be this way. They listen, are non-judgmental, and provide support.
9. Help you and your spouse establish a solid foundation for the next chapter of your lives.
When you come out on the other side of a divorce in an amicable (ish) manner and you haven’t spent 2 years at war with your ex, then you are already starting the next chapter on a more solid foundation. Will there be rebuilding and healing to do, yes. But you won’t be totally decimated, depleted, and hopeless.
10. Help you rebuild to step into the new you.
Divorce coaches understand what the next chapter entails: figuring out your new identity, learning to have alone time, learning to love yourself, and deciding how you’re going to create a meaningful life. They can provide a coaching structure to help you thrive in this next chapter.
Experienced divorce coaches may or may not be in your area. Working with an online coach has the following benefits:
• Access. You can work with someone based in another state and benefit from their experience and expertise. Technology removes the distance barrier. And (at the time of this article), technology helps keep us more safe from the coronavirus.
• Convenience. You don’t have to drive to offices and waste time in traffic.
• Privacy. You can do this in the comfort and privacy of your own home or office. You and your spouse can also be in two different locations, which may reduce some emotional stress.
• Affordability. Utilizing a divorce coach reduces the overall cost of a divorce.
Consider hiring a divorce coach as part of your team of experts to help you through this challenging time. You may even want to call one before you call an attorney. It will be worth the investment.