Jen Lawrence is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach®, Certified Divorce Specialist, and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® who is the Founder of Designed Divorce. Lawrence founded her divorce coaching and concierge business to help clients make clear-headed decisions at a time of overwhelming to maximize their financial security and minimize stress. She helps her clients work with their divorce teams to ensure their divorce decisions support their future goals. She has a particular focus on helping clients through high net worth divorce and high conflict divorce, where there is a power imbalance between the divorcing parties.
How did you become a divorce coach? What makes your brand unique?
During my second divorce, I realized that it was so much easier than my first one because I did not have to try to figure out the process or the steps. I could focus on healing and on being strategic about negotiating the divorce settlement agreement since I had a roadmap to follow. I decided that I was pretty good at divorce at this point and wanted to find a way to help other people going through the process. I certified as a Divorce Coach and divorce financial analyst and paired that with my expertise in decision making. I’m able to help clients make good decisions about their future at a time when it is very difficult to do so.
What makes my coaching practice unique is that I have a lot of experience helping clients deal with power imbalances as their spouses are often successful, well connected and have held the upper hand in the marriage. Many of my clients are worried that they will be bullied during the divorce process and we work together to build their confidence by finding a solid divorce team, working on communication techniques to deal with conflict, and work on establishing firm boundaries. I’m a girly girl but I’m not afraid of conflict so I relate to my clients but can also help them develop new skills.
What are some best practices for those going through a divorce?
There are three main things to focus on if you want to get through a divorce with your wealth and peace of mind intact. First, you need to realize that while the end of a marriage is very personal, the actual divorce process is business. You are simply dividing assets and determining parenting time and future support payments. The more clients can see it as a business, and not as a way to way to right past wrongs, the easier the process will be. The second key thing is to realize that emotional justice does not come from a courtroom. People who use the legal process to try to get some sort of emotional closure end up very disappointed and with huge legal bills. I encourage clients to park their emotions and reach the best settlement they can in a reasonable timeframe.
Then, I encourage them to take the time to truly heal, often with the help of a therapist. There is no settlement amount that makes up for the pain of a toxic marriage, but if you make good, clearheaded decisions, you can usually arrive at a settlement that gives you the peace and runway to heal. Finally, I like clients to realize that it’s up to them how the divorce and future relationship with their ex unfolds. Those who have been married to a toxic or narcissistic spouse often feel that they have no control, but you on your own can bring peace to the relationship and have a solid co- or parallel parenting relationship even if the other party is uncooperative. I do a lot of work on boundaries and communications with my clients so they can better manage even the most toxic relationship.
How can women maintain their sanity and manage their wellness going through a divorce?
Self-care is key and I’m not talking about the occasional bubble bath. In the early days of divorce, it can be hard to get out of bed so I encourage people to take baby steps to improve their physical well-being. Just taking a few minutes a day to do some breathing exercises will decrease the number of stress hormones flooding your system. Staying hydrated will help with focus and clear-thinking. Sleep is pretty much a cure-all and developing good sleep habits is critical in times of stress.
As physical health improves, I encourage women to take steps to improve their emotional well-being. Learning to say no, establishing boundaries, limiting contact with toxic people, getting comfortable with money management, and surrounding yourself with supportive people are exercises in self-care the serve you well in divorce and in life. Divorce is do-over in many ways and is a great time to develop healthy habits.
What advice do you have for those who are going through a divorce due to COVID?
For people who are thinking about divorce for the first time during COVID, I encourage them not to rush. It’s natural in times of high stress and physical lock-down to find your spouse getting on your nerves. One of the big questions I ask people in this position to ask themselves is What is it that I can’t do that I want to do because I am married. If it’s your spouse who is preventing you from living a life that makes you happy, divorce may be an answer to that. If you are just feeling unhappy, you might be projecting job, health, parenting, or other real sources of stress onto your spouse. The end is in sight so marriage or discernment counseling might be a step you want to take before contacting an attorney.
For people who were thinking about divorce before COVID or are in the middle of the divorce process, I’d urge you to be patient unless your safety is at risk. If you fear for your safety, shelters are still operating and they will help you make an exit plan. If your safety is not at risk, you need to know that courts are backed up, lawyers are flooded with work and it may be harder to value assets or sell or buy properties due to market volatility. You may need to negotiate an interim agreement, which can feel frustrating if all you want to do is move forward. I’d urge you to dig deep into self-care, especially if you and your soon-to-be-ex are living together due to the pandemic.
Try to find some way to have your own physical space even if you have to hang out in the bathroom. Invest in some good noise-canceling headphones and listen to podcasts or binge a show to get your mind on other things. Take this time to focus on what you want when all of this is behind you. As you get very clear about your post-divorce, post-pandemic goals, you can work with your lawyer to structure a settlement to move you toward your goals.
Can you tell us about the Designed Divorce book? What does this book teach?
In The Designed Divorce, I share the divorce coaching process I use with my private coaching clients. Through my two divorces and all of my training and education, I’ve developed a proprietary process based on the acronym DESIGN. I walk the reader through:
Damage control and containing raw emotions;
Education about the divorce process;
Self-care that really works; IMPACTs of divorce so there are no surprises down the road;
Goal setting that works; and
New beginnings to leave the past in the rearview mirror.
I walk readers through the initial shock of an unwanted divorce to moving into their post-divorce life. There is also a workbook with worksheets that tie into the material that is a free download when you buy the book so readers are getting some DIY coaching.
How can our readers get in touch with you?