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What Is the Role of a Divorce Coach?

How to Tell If You Need a Divorce Coach

When you and your spouse decide to divorce, you may need to contact a family law attorney right away. Working with a divorce lawyer can help to protect your interests and prepare for the next stage to come. However, while your lawyer will be your key advocate throughout the process, you may need other forms of support as well, like a divorce coach.

Understanding Divorce Coaching

Divorce coaches, like counselors and therapists, are mental health professionals. They may have a background in other forms of counseling or therapy, although divorce coaching is not therapy. You should be able to feel confident in your divorce coach’s credentials, licensing, background and education before hiring one to work with, however. Your divorce coach can have expertise in dealing with divorce and co-parenting, especially for people determining how to tell their children about the end of their parents’ marriage and how to develop a parenting plan and shared custody with their former spouse. It is important to make sure that the person you hire is appropriately licensed for the kind of work that they are doing. A divorce coach can be a part of your professional team to help you and your family emerge from the divorce. A divorce coach is regularly used in a collaborative divorce, but they can certainly be used in other divorces as well.

Not everyone needs or wants a divorce coach. For some people, the costs of the process itself are overwhelming, and they do not want to bring on more professional support unless strictly necessary. They may budget their mental health costs for therapy for the children or need to focus on working with their divorce attorney. However, when there are no other barriers to accessing these services, a divorce coach may bring clarity and unique insight to the emotional burden that can accompany the divorce legal process.

Why Work With a Divorce Coach?

Divorce coaches can be helpful for people who want more emotional support or clarity on the matters that come with a divorce. Like your family law attorney, they are part of your professional team throughout the process. Divorce coaches can also help you to understand some of the legal as well as the emotional processes. They may meet with you and your divorce lawyer to discuss how you plan to proceed with the case, such as whether you will seek a settlement, go through a collaborative divorce or litigate the case in family court.

Many people choose to work with a divorce coach because they have children that they plan to co-parent with their former spouse. While their divorce attorney may work to negotiate the best possible settlement for child custody issues and develop a parenting plan, this is only part of the process. You and your former spouse will need to have a discussion with the children about the decision to divorce, and the divorce coach can help you and your spouse plan that discussion, determine the timing and structure and prepare for anticipated reactions from the children. You can work with your coach to determine age-appropriate responses to children’s queries.

Some co-parenting families may plan unique housing arrangements, such as “nesting” or “bird nesting,” in which parents switch between the family home and another residence in order to give the children more stability through the divorce process. This may take place only while negotiations are ongoing, or it may continue for some time after the divorce is finalized. A coach can help both parents deal with the practical and emotional effects of nesting, even after your family lawyers have settled the legal aspects of property division and child custody.

Divorce coaches are often experts in child development. Each family may have its own parenting plan, and a divorce coach can help you to work through the emotional issues that come with it. While the basics of a parenting plan may include the custody schedule and shared responsibilities, those are only the basics. Some issues are more likely to cause future conflict, and your coach could help to prepare you for dealing with these concerns to minimize future problems. In this way, divorce coaching can benefit both you and the children by reducing stress and conflict around co-parenting.

The co-parenting relationship is an entirely new relationship, built on the basis of the dissolved marriage. Divorced parents need new skills to communicate with one another and reduce conflict in order to put the children first. Their post-divorce relationship should, ideally, improve upon their former relationship in order to benefit the children psychologically and physically. You may each work with your own divorce coach or work together with one to agree on boundaries, communication skills and conflict resolution processes for the co-parenting relationship to come.

Divorce Coaching During the Legal Process

Divorce coaching can also help you during the legal process. You may turn to your family law attorney for strategic planning and setting priorities for settlement negotiations. However, your divorce coach can help you in a different way with the negotiations to try and help achieve settlement. You can discuss openly how you feel about the process and what is taking place during the negotiations. These discussions can help you determine your key must-haves for your divorce agreement as well as the items you can compromise about. In essence, your emotional processing with a divorce coach can help you to more efficiently plan for a legal approach with your family law attorney.

Your divorce coach can also help with skills to manage your emotions during the negotiations. In some cases, divorce coaches for both parties may attend negotiations to help maintain the tone and pacing of the meetings and help all of the other professionals involved move the settlement process forward. Outside the meetings, your divorce coach can advise you about healthy patterns to care for yourself as well as planning for your post-divorce life.

You can think about your plans for the future and how to achieve them, as well as talk through the decisions you will have to make with your divorce coach. Your coach can help you to build confidence in your own decisions, making the settlement process faster and more efficient.

Finding a Divorce Coach

Divorce coaches are often part of the team in collaborative divorces as well as other forms of negotiated or mediated divorces. You can ask your family lawyer for referrals to coaches who have been helpful to other clients or listen to the recommendations of friends and family members who have also gone through a divorce. Make sure you choose a divorce coach who is well-suited to your plans for the divorce and will work with your divorce lawyer as a team approach to help reach resolutions.

When choosing a divorce coach, verify their credentials, training and experience to ensure you are working with a qualified professional. A divorce coach can be a helpful guide and support in your corner as you navigate this challenging period.

Speak With a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

Your divorce attorney may recommend divorce coaches or other professionals to build your team throughout the legal process. Contact the experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lawrence Law by calling 908-645-1000 or using our online form for a consultation about collaborative law at our Red Bank or Watchung, New Jersey, office.

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