What is a Divorce Coach?
Divorce coaches are licensed mental health professionals (psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists) or mediators, who have received specialized training in communication and collaborative divorce. Divorce Coaches are not legal specialists, but assist attorneys and other collaborative professionals. Divorce Coaches do not work as sole practitioners but as part of a team to ensure that clients are fully supported through the divorce process.
I am trained as a Marriage and Family Therapist, as well as completed the required training in collaborative law and mediation.
Why you need a Divorce Coach?
Most divorces, even those less contentious, involve heated emotions over core issues such as how often you and your ex will see the kids, whether you will receive or pay support and who will keep the house. When people experience highly charged emotions (anger, fear and guilt are most common in divorce situations) or feel extremely threatened, they tend to act rashly and make decisions they regret later. The role of the coach is to help manage and contain intense feelings as they arise in the dissolution process so they don't interfere with making decisions that may impact the parties for many years to come. A coach is distinct from a therapist in that a coach doesn't delve into understanding why a person feels as they do, they simply help manage the feelings. Coaches can also help with keeping lines of communication open between spouses. By modeling healthier ways of talking and, more importantly, listening to one another, the coaches often prove vital to facilitate the divorcing couples' discussions and negotiations.
Doesn't a Coach Drive Up the Costs?
Ironically, although it is another paid person working in the case, a coach usually saves the client money because, unknowingly, and all too often, clients treat their attorneys as their emotional and mental sounding boards. They talk to their lawyer about their challenges and the dynamics with their spouse and, while some of this is pertinent to the outcome of the case, this is incredibly expensive therapy! Not only that; lawyers are often not trained to deal with their clients emotions. A Divorce Coach can provide this support while facilitating important conversations with the attorneys which in turn keeps the process respectful, on track and the costs in check.
Working in a consultative role as a divorce coach, I combine common sense and effective listening with tools and information to help you move through the emotional stress of divorce. Divorce is not easy, but applying effective strategies to ease the pain of changing relationships and prepare you and/or your children for the transition into your new life with renewed hope and dexterity is not only possible, but probable using the collaborative process.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
Divorce may be inevitable, but the way you divorce isn't.
Going through a divorce doesn't automatically mean having to endure the turmoil that is often associated with it. You now have another choice: Collaborative Practice, which includes the Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce models. Developed as an alternative to "divorce as usual", Collaborative Practice offers couples a humane and solutions-based approach to ending a relationship. Collaborative Practice differs from conventional divorce in three important respects:
- The parties pledge in writing not to go to court.
- Face-to-face discussions between the spouses and their lawyers lead to an agreement.
- A respectful, problem-solving approach, often with the assistance of trained professionals such as divorce coaches, financial experts, child specialists, replaces the often adversarial process of conventional divorce, and enables you to find solutions that are durable and respectful.
Who Should Consider a Collaborative Divorce Process?
- Any couple that seeks a civilized, respectful way to resolve their issues.
- Those who want to maintain a working relationship (co-parenting) after the dissolution.
- Those who can put their children's welfare first.
- Those valuing privacy and maintaining control over their family's issues
- Those who are able to focus on a positive future moving forward
How it works
Once you have chosen Collaborative Practice (Collaborative Law/Collaborative Divorce), you may take advantage of the option to put together a team to work with you as you make your way through this life transition. While you will always need to select Collaborative lawyers to assist you throughout the process, you may also choose to start the process with a Collaborative divorce coach or financial expert. Wherever you begin the process, you will have a chance to meet privately and together with your professionals. Collaborative Practice is unique in that it calls for both of you, and your lawyers, to come together for face-to-face discussions and negotiations—outside the courtroom. In an atmosphere of openness and honesty, all assets are disclosed, needs are communicated, and solutions are explored. When there are children, their interests are given foremost priority. The end result of Collaborative Practice is a divorce agreement that has been achieved through mutual problem solving. You, along with your lawyers and other chosen collaborative professionals, take control of shaping the final agreement, rather than having a settlement imposed on you by the court.
Though Collaborative Practice seeks to avoid going to court, legal agreements are being crafted. You each have your own attorneys who meet with you separately and confidentially to discuss your rights and obligations. The attorneys advise you on the relevant legal matters, from child custody and support to financial settlements, including property distribution. The attorneys also participate in four-way meetings (attorneys and clients), a mainstay of the collaborative process. They are trained to help keep the meetings safe and work to make them a constructive and comfortable place for the parties to create acceptable solutions to challenges they are facing.
Divorce is a major life transition; while it marks the end of one part of your life, it is also the beginning of another. A divorce coach helps you come to terms with the feelings associated with the changing relationship with your partner, while focusing on goals for the present and the future to aid in decreasing the unresolved conflicts. The child specialist can be included when necessary to ensure that children are a priority, not a casualty for the changing family. Using the Collaborative Practice model, divorce coaches help you get through the changes divorce creates in families by helping the couple learn to interact and communicate with each other more respectfully and honestly. The couple uses these skills in their settlement discussions, and in their post-divorce parenting.
The divorce settlement will in part determine your financial well-being for many years to come. It is critical that the financial decisions be soundly structured. The guidance of a financial consultant will help protect the interests of your changing family. Reviewing all assets and income, the financial consultant will assist you in developing viable financial options for your future. Evaluating the choices, you and your lawyer can then construct a comprehensive plan for the next stage of your life. The fact that two households will have to be supported on the same income level that previously supported one underscores the importance of sound and comprehensive financial planning. The financial specialist is trained to consider in detail the economic future of your family and help reach creative solutions with the available resources.
Children may suffer most from divorce, and be least able to understand or express their feelings. Their world is being turned upside down in ways that they cannot begin to comprehend. Communication with parents may be difficult, if not impossible. A goal of Collaborative Practice is to assure that children are a priority, not a casualty. The child specialist, an individual skilled in understanding children, will meet with your children privately, assisting them in expressing their feelings and concerns about the divorce. Encouraging children to think creatively about the future, the child specialist then communicates the children's feelings, concerns and hopes to you and to the team to consider when planning for the children's lives.
Collaborative Professionals near you:
The Oregon Association of Collaborative Professionals
The Oregon Association of Collaborative Professionals (OACP) is a group of professionals from different disciplines who are dedicated to helping families go through divorce in a way that helps them move positively into the future.
If you are seeking information about a more peaceful, respectful way to divorce, then you can learn more about Collaborative Law Practice here. Additionally, this site contains a directory of Collaborative Law professionals who you can contact to learn more about this process.
Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions
Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions is a group of experienced lawyers and divorce coaches working together to help couples end their marriage peacefully. We encourage problem solving, communication and healthy co-parenting. We empower couples to create a lasting resolution that fulfills their needs.
The Divorce Shoppe
The Divorce Shoppe is changing divorce from an adversarial, often bitter event, to an informed, supported life transition.
Whether you approach, our professionals are trained to help you and your spouse work together.
Instead of going to battle, our team of Attorneys, Mediators, Financial Analysts, Coaches and Child Specialists, provide you with the support and education you need to reach a fair result you can both agree on.
Portland Collaborative Divorce
Portland Collaborative Divorce is a group of the highest-quality professionals in Portland offering support for families going through divorce and other family conflicts. We provide legal, emotional and financial support to help families with a peaceful divorce. We help you avoid the stress and expense of going to court.