Just as you would not seek the care of a dentist for a filling, and then also seek his input on what haircut you should get, and then let him/her try to implement that haircut for you, so should you not hand every aspect of your divorce to a divorce lawyer. There are others that may be more appropriate to help with some aspects of a divorce—such as a divorce coach.
When I inform clients that there is such thing as a “divorce coach,” reactions vary. Sometimes clients roll their eyes, thinking I’m just trying to sell them a fancy up-charge to the divorce process; some clients chuckle, thinking that I’m joking; and some clients immediately dismiss the thought of a divorce coach with phrases such as “oh no, we’re going to do this amicably,” or “why would I need that? We already know how we’re going to divide everything.”
And yet, sometimes clients are elated, because they see the price tag associated with an hour of my time, as compared to an hour of a divorce coach’s time, and they instantly understand the cost benefit analysis. Here are the facts:
Divorce coaches are real. In fact, the American Bar Association defines divorce coaching as a “flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future…” As I like to tell people, my job is to restructure a family—not to destroy it—particularly for those clients who have children with their spouse or partner.
Divorce coaches are trained professionals. They are skilled not only in the fields of mental health issues and counselling, but in understanding the uniquely nuanced stressors and triggers inherent in the divorce process, including communication barriers that may or may have not existed when the marriage was intact, and how to overcome those barriers.
Divorce coaches can save you emotional stress. For the sake of your own mental health, as well as the health of any children involved, clear goals, concerns, and communication while restructuring your family is key. Divorce coaches help clarify all of these areas and work with one or both clients to ensure everyone emerges as intact as possible.
Divorce coaches can save you money. While varying, the average cost of an hour with a divorce coach is less than half the cost of an hour with a lawyer.
This is not to say that you only need a divorce coach—you still need a divorce lawyer, too, but it is good to divide the issues and compartmentalize where appropriate, so that you get the proper care for the proper issues. For example, “heavy” financial issues, such as setting child support or maintenance, require the involvement of a lawyer. “Softer” issues, such as determining how best to communicate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse regarding daily transportation of your children to and from their myriad activities, requires the skill of a divorce coach.
When utilized strategically and in tandem, a divorce coach can supplement the divorce process to save you time, money, emotional stress, and ultimately help preserve relationships as your family is restructured. While divorce may leave some with regrets, I have yet to have a client avail themselves of a divorce coach and regret the decision.
Aubrey J. Parker, Partner