What is Divorce Coaching?
Divorce is more than a legal process. Divorce is a major life transition with many complexities. Couples don’t know – what they don’t know – and they are called to make major decisions that affect themselves and their children now and into their future. However, people are not usually functioning at their best wise-minded selves during divorce. Very strong divorce emotions (anger, hurt, disappointment, regret…) influence their decision making abilities. The fears such as – will I have enough money to live, will my kids be ok, how do I reconcile a divorce with my faith beliefs, will I ever find anyone to love me and the fears keep on coming. If that isn’t enough, well-intended family and friends begin offering advice about what you should or shouldn’t do – who you should or shouldn’t hire. These people are more than qualified to love and support you but not qualified to help you navigate your divorce process.
A Divorce Coach helps a client do just that – navigate your divorce process, thus reducing stress, anxiety and feelings of aloneness in this foreign territory of divorce.
Personal issues – A Divorce Coach can help you…
- honor your feelings of grief and anger over the many losses that result from your divorce.
- find appropriate sources of emotional support to replace ones you have lost.
- learn how to reduce your anxiety and stress as you make decisions about your future.
- manage the strong emotions that are a natural part of this process.
- understand the other partner’s outlook on an issue even if you don’t agree with it.
- identify what each of you does that triggers the other to react negatively.
Legal process issues – A Divorce Coach can help you…
- interview and hire an attorney who is best suited for your case and your specific needs.
- explain and discuss the many process options (collaborative law, mediation, private mediation, litigation) available from a perspective that doesn’t seem as intimidating as when you hear them from an attorney.
- clarify and articulate to your spouse and attorney the personal goals and value you want reflected in the divorce settlement.
- stay accountable to the goals you have set for your future and that of your children.
- stay focused on working toward win-win solutions, both short and long term.
Co-parent issues – A coach can help you with…
- learn how to communicate with your ex-spouse and now co-parent in the best interests of your children.
- create a foundation for co-parenting that enables you to act in the best interests of your children.
- negotiate terms of your co-parenting plan both during the divorce and in later years as needs change.
Who is a Divorce Coach?
A Divorce Coach usually has had another career or adds Divorce Coaching to their current practice. Divorce Coaches are often also Divorce Mediators, mental health professionals, and even former lawyers. The field of Divorce Coaching is still an emerging professional career that is being recognized for the beneficial results they add to helping clients navigate their divorce process and work with their divorce professional team (attorneys, financial advisors, therapist…). They are trained to manage a wide variety of emotions and issues that arise during divorce. A Divorce Coach is also your “thinking” partner –helping you navigate the unknowns of divorce while creating a road map to resolution.
Benefits of working with a Divorce Coach:
A Divorce Coach offers structure and holds clients responsible for assuming a pro-active role in their divorce process. Clients will benefit by working with their Divorce Coach in setting realistic expectations for the process and receiving education they need in order to make informed decisions with confidence. Guiding clients in clarifying their thoughts, needs and concerns in order to communicate them more effectively, is another important function of the Divorce Coach. Clear, purposeful and rational communication helps to ease tension and foster understanding between spouses, as well as parents and children. Additionally, clearly and precisely conveying key facts and asking pertinent questions aids a client in choosing and communicating effectively with their attorney. It is important to proceed through the divorce process in manageable steps, thus, the Divorce Coach will help clients to prioritize the tasks that need to be completed during the divorce.
Overview of What a Divorce Coach Will Do:
- Identify the divorce issues unique to your situation.
- Clarify your goals and create a plan and action steps to reach those goals.
- Teach couples how to resolve conflicts by helping each of them to define and articulate their interest rather than arguing from their often entrenched positions.
- Focus on interests, so the discussion can move towards developing workable options that can lead to workable solutions today and in the future (which is invaluable when there are children and a need to co-parent).
- Understand how the emotional upheaval of divorce can interfere with sound decision making. I will be your “thinking” partner and become aware of and manage your strong divorce emotions and bring forth more critical thinking.
- Learn how to separate your thoughts from your feelings.
- Think through highly charged issues.
- Practice talking to each other about difficult problems in a business manner.
- To navigate the unknowns one step at a time and calm the ever present fear emotions – will I survive, will my kids be OK, will I ever heal, and will anyone ever love me again…?
- Tools to aide you as you work toward a new normal.
- Help you find the right professionals (including working choosing or working with your attorney) and other neutrals on your team to work effectively and efficiently to reach your resolutions which often reduces time and expense.
- Help you get “unstuck” and problem solve your way to a resolution.
What a Divorce Coach does NOT do?
Your Divorce coach is not a substitute for an attorney, a tax or financial professional or a therapist.
- Your lawyer’s role is to make sure you know your legal rights and obligations and to help you understand the consequences of the decisions you make. A lawyer is your legal problem solver but they often spend hours discussing or dealing with the emotional aspects of divorce and you end up paying a huge legal bill. As your divorce coach, I will help you work with and alongside your attorney to make sure your needs, your interests and wishes are conveyed and effectively negotiated while working with you and managing the emotional parts of your divorce.
- Your tax or financial professional will make sure you know how the decisions you make effect your money, your financial life and your tax consequences. As your divorce coach, I will help you with your budget, money management skills and your communication with your financial professionals and attorney.
- Your therapist helps you examine your history and patterns of relating that are affecting your relationships and stumbling blocks that are keeping you from growing through and beyond your divorce. A Divorce Coach is different from therapy; coaching is specifically focused on divorce related issues and concerns. As your divorce coach, I will handle emotional issues only AS THEY RELATE TO THE DIVORCE and you or your families’ future.
Will I have my own divorce coach or will my husband also use the same divorce coach?
There are 2 models taught in Divorce Coaching. It is handled both ways, but I especially endorse the concept for the “One Divorce Coach Model” where I can work with both partners (not to say that I don’t often only work with one of the parties). I like this because it gives me a chance to help the couple learn what they need in order to go forth, such as to be better “co-parents” and to be more effective in the negotiations – and if using the Collaborative Divorce Process then a couple can be more effective in the 4-way meetings with their attorneys. Another note here: Divorce coaching helps even if only one of you agrees to participate in the process. The benefit of individualized sessions is that you will be more effective with informed decision making and clarity and all the other ways we have discussed you will benefit from coaching. If your spouse should also seek coaching then you will work some together and some separately with the goal always focusing on helping you through the process with dignity, respect and skills to navigate the divorce and your life that follows. I will coach you or both of you to navigate the divorce process to ensure you are addressing all the necessary decisions that need to be made.
The Role of a Neutral Coach Model –
If you are using the Collaborative Law process the Divorce Coach is an integral member of the collaborative team, the neutral coach facilitates communication among all participants in a couple’s divorce process. The coach addresses any emotional obstacles that keep either member of the couple from effective functioning. The neutral coach has three main tasks: 1) Help the couple move through this process, wherever they are emotionally. 2) Help the team work together effectively. 3) Handle the logistics of the process, such as making sure meetings are scheduled and as a form of case manager they make write the agendas for meetings, do a follow-up summary of the meetings and make sure the meetings run effectively and productively (ultimately saving couples money).
- The coach meets with the couple, both together and individually, to gather information and understand the dynamics and stress points of their particular situation.
- The coach talks about each person’s readiness for divorce, and work with the couple to identify where and when communication breaks down between them.
- The coach helps each member of the couple learn what they do that triggers their partner negatively and why that is not in their self-interest long-term. The coach may teach them how they can calm themselves when they become overwhelmed with emotion in order to be more present in the discussion.
- The coach supports the neutral child specialist in teaching the couple healthy co-parenting skills and may assist in the development of a parenting plan.
- The coach honors collaborative principles and will share with the team pertinent information from the couple that could help or hinder the couple achieve their goals.
- The coach facilitates all joint meetings. The coach encourages communication among participants, sets expectations for behavior, monitors the participants’ verbal and non-verbal communication and helps manage the unexpected emotions and personal agendas that may be present in the room.
- The coach, as a neutral, helps provide a voice that is not considered an advocate for either spouse/party. The attorneys are advocates for their clients, and even though they are committed to a collaborative process, their words may be seen by the other spouse/party as aiding the person they are advocating for. The neutral voice can help move things along and also elicit more honest and candid answers to difficult questions.
- The coach encourages and facilitates effective communication between professional members of the team, both in and between joint meetings. Team members may not realize how they affect the process and this can impede progress. The coach provides another set of eyes and ears that are trained to work with the clients and the professionals (attorneys, CDFA, child specialist) to help the process be more effective.
- The coach may make referrals to other professionals when more support is needed.
The Role of a Two Coach Model –
Again, if working in the Collaborative Divorce process, in the two-coach model, each member of the couple has a coach who serves as an ally to them while still keeping the interests of the whole family in mind. This can allow the parties to get extra support in this process. Having two coaches on the team allows each coach to focus more attention on the needs and challenges of just one member of the couple. As an integral member of the collaborative team, the allied coach supports and holds accountable the individual clients. Each coach helps their client advocate for themselves.
One difference between the neutral coach and the allied coach is that most of their work happens with individual clients outside of the attorney joint meetings. In one-on-one meetings, the allied coaches helps their clients identify their needs and interests and learn to communicate them so they are more likely to be heard. In periodic 4-way meetings, the allied coaches meet together with their respective clients to facilitate communication between the couple and address issues that are causing problems between them. In the joint meetings with attorneys, clients, coaches, and possibly other professionals, the allied coaches help their clients function to achieve the best possible outcome.
- The allied coaches meet with their member of the couple to help them identify where they are in the process and how they can communicate their concerns in this process.
- The allied coaches help clients manage strong emotion so they can think clearly.
- The allied coaches help highlight their clients’ unique strengths that can be used productively in the process.
- The allied coaches listen for their clients’ unique challenges and help develop plans to manage these changes.
- The allied coaches in coordination with a neutral child specialist in assisting their clients in developing effective communication and co-parenting skills in the best interests of the children.
- The allied coaches help clients formulate a vision for their individual futures.
- The allied coaches provide guidance and direction to help their clients find outside resources if needed.
- The allied coaches may assist the neutral child specialist and the parents in creating a parenting plan.
Divorce Coaching Model when not in the Collaborative Law process:
The collaborative law process utilizes Divorce Coaches more than most of the dispute resolution processes. However, you may hire a coach if you are not working under this process or even if you aren’t going to integrate your coach into the process with your attorney(s). The ways a Divorce Coach will work with you and function will still be the same as many of the ways defined under the neutral and allied coaching models.
Signs You May Need a Divorce Coach
If you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and alone by the many decisions that need to be made in order to divorce, a divorce coach can help you manage the process. Friends and family mean well but before long you are no longer sure whose advice you can trust, whose voice you should be listening to and how to separate the need for love and support from the guidance and direction of a qualified and trained professional who has your best-interest as their goal while not being emotionally engaged with your divorce. Sandra will help you move through your divorce with a sense of confidence that comes from better understanding your options.
Our lives are built day-by-day through the choices we make and the actions we live out. When we got married, we had a vision of how our lives would look – we had dreams of houses, children, trips, holidays, retirement – and then one day, divorce came knocking at the door. At that defining moment the “picture” of our lives that hung over the sofa – you know that picture of how you had your life mapped out – has fallen off the wall and shattered into hundreds of pieces. Suddenly you are standing there looking at all the pieces wondering how you even got to this point in your life. The process of putting that picture back together is overwhelming and riddled with fear emotions – where do you possibly begin?
For some people, the pieces that they struggle to fit together are how to navigate the divorce process – who do you hire, who can you trust, finding a job, starting over, reconciling divorce with your faith beliefs, becoming a single parent, learning how to live alone, how to communicate with your now ex-spouse and so many other unknowns that are now glaring at you.
You feel stuck and don’t know what your next steps should be. You love your family and friends but they are offering advice based on how divorce has shown up in their own life or a friend of a friend’s life. So many stories, so many directions and yet at the end of the day you feel more confused that when you woke up. You hear horrible divorce stories and they only add to the confusion. Sifting through the path on your own can be a daunting task. Sometimes having too many choices can be as paralyzing as only having one or two. While functioning on little sleep, stress being your constant companion, and fear is sitting in the driver’s seat – are not the best recipe for a healthy divorce. This is a time when you need a knowledgeable guide, someone to help you sort out facts from emotions, someone to take you by the hand and assist you as you learn and grow. As your “thinking” partner/coach in the process, Sandra, will create a plan for you, and with you. Step-by-step we will break the process down into manageable pieces and we walk the path together.
If you can relate – you could benefit greatly from having a divorce coach.
Working with Sandra Lee:
Sandra Lee has been a divorce coach for over 17 years and combines her mediation skills and divorce coaching skills to be most equipped in assisting parties to understand what they need in order to work through their separation/divorce. She will realize her client’s personal strengths in order to overcome obstacles that might be encountered during the process. She will provide the necessary support, motivation and encouragement in the process and will help you GROW through the process, maintain personal integrity and become empowered to plan for a positive future by:
Gaining information regarding your life through conversations, questionnaires and assessments.
Recognizing where you are at currently in your life and where you want to be.
Organizing an action plan and time frame to help you move from the place you are starting from to the place where you are going.
Working hard to create a new picture of what life you want to live in the future and it is supported to the best ability it can be in the divorce settlement.
Divorce Coaching Testimonials
“Everyone I asked gave me different advice and honestly I began making decisions based on other’s opinions. Once I hired Sandra to be my coach I created a plan for my divorce process for working with my attorney and focusing on my reality.”
“Thank you for your outstanding coaching skills. I not only benefited greatly but so did my children. I know that our family looks different now but even as a single dad I now realize we are still a family.”
“My attorney suggested I call Sandra for divorce coaching. That turned out to be one of the best calls I made. She worked with my attorney and my divorce financial analyst through my divorce negotiations and I then with me the following year as I started over as a single woman.”
“Sandra, I want to thank you for making me feel I would be alright in the middle of the chaos. You gave me a practical road map when I was completely lost.”
“I truly value and appreciate all you do in your career and with how you deal with our mutual clients and opposing parties.”