Well-Being//

Why Your First Call Should Be to a Divorce Coach.

How a new kind of professional can transform the divorce process.

SewCream / Shutterstock
SewCream / Shutterstock

If you’re getting a divorce, let me get right to the point. You need a divorce coach. When an entirely new class of professional emerges, it is usually to address an unmet need. In most cases, divorce is the single most significant and comprehensive financial and emotional event in your life, and yet we still consider a law degree the single certification required to help us through it. 

The fact is, you need a team. Our knee-jerk reaction to getting a divorce is to immediately call a lawyer, but the specific legal issues at hand are only a subset of the totality of the experience, so it’s only logical to change the mindset and transform what we historically know can be an extremely challenging transition to a more empowered one.

A divorce coach is a certified professional who will help you quarterback the entire process. As the powerhouse team of Heather Candelaria and Theresa Kleinline at Divvy, The Divorce Agency in Phoenix, AZ say: “We love it when we can meet with a man or a woman at the front door of divorce so that we can start at the beginning to educate and frame the process, manage expectations, and most importantly, support them through each step forward. It is important to clarify that divorce coaching isn’t therapy,” says Candelaria, “it isn’t the important work people do to look back to understand how they got here, it is about strategies and preparation to move forward through a complicated transactional process to get you where you want to be.”

Divorce lawyers who truly advocate for their clients know that when their clients have the support of a good divorce coach, they will receive the exhaustive documents in an organized and timely manner and that their clients will be better informed and efficient. Simply put, individuals who work with divorce coaches are better clients. Coaches are local experts who can demystify the process, match you with the right lawyers and experts, and be a sounding board for rational decision-making. 

Many lawyers and mediators have added divorce coaching as a service or replaced their legal practices with coaching to better support their clients. Katie Lynch, a former divorce lawyer from London, relocated to New York City and founded Apiary Consulting to guide working professionals and executives through the complex process so that they can better manage it alongside their corporate responsibilities. Her role and focus make a significant difference in both their personal and professional lives. Julia Whitelaw has an active law and mediation practice in San Rafael, CA, Whitelaw Family Law, but she also offers divorce coaching in which she is able to provide a broader range of support for those clients. Gabrielle Hartley in Northampton, MA and New York City is the author of Better Apart and a fierce advocate for her clients. She uses her nearly 25 years of law experience to provide clients with one-on-one divorce coaching and mediation to reframe the experience for them. And in Miami, FL, Jennifer Warren Medwin has a thriving divorce coaching business, Seeking Empowerment: Clarity Through Partnership. She uses her training as a Supreme Court of Florida Mediator and her divorce coaching skills to guide individuals away from a high conflict process to a more positive and effective path forward.  

Other certified divorce coaches have innovative business models. Joyce Rimmele founded Agreed., an online cooperative conflict platform that helps couples go through the divorce process and co-parent more successfully through coaching and online mediation. They are based in Southern CA, and Susie LaCour recently launched her new coaching practice in Orinda, CA. 

I have intentionally featured coaches from every region of the country to spotlight the fact that this profession is growing and attracting people who agree that we will no longer tolerate the destructive divorces of the past. I am overwhelmed at the collective strength, power and commitment of this new cadre of professional to bring transformation forward. As with lawyers, coaches come from different backgrounds with different expertise. Do your research, interview and identify a divorce coach who will be your family’s ally throughout the transition. 

Traditionally the cost of divorce is measured in lawyer fees, is considered to be expensive, and in many cases outrageously so. Divorce has evolved to become a cottage industry of experts and pathways, so who to hire and how much to budget is more confusing than ever. Since spouses know they have to pay the lawyer fees, they typically avoid hiring other experts to save money. What is misunderstood is that many times the excessive legal fees are largely due to clients using their lawyer as their therapist, coach, financial planner, and friend– all at a very high hourly cost.  Divorce coaching is often the single largest cost-savings tool you can employ because they have the ability to save you thousands, if not more, on the legal fees by streamlining the paperwork and information process and providing emotional support.

How will your lawyer respond to the divorce coach? 100% of the time people assume that lawyers dislike technology that streamlines the process and that they dislike experts who play a supporting role because it will reduce legal fees. That assumes that all lawyers put fees above their clients. I have worked with many lawyers over the years, and the good, ethical, strong lawyers say they do not have enough hours in the day to be good lawyers because of the inefficiencies. They want to be able to do better for their clients, but they get too bogged down by the paperwork, court deadlines and emotionally-needy and disorganized clients. If your lawyer wants to deprive you of support, guidance and technology to help you be more organized, informed and empowered, you have the wrong lawyer. Having said that, lawyers understandably worry about outside experts practicing law without a license and making their job harder, but a well-trained certified divorce coach knows the boundary between guidance through a process and the practice of law and can make everyone’s experience better. 

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