Preparing yourself for the process of divorce is rarely easy – no matter how many books you read or how often you listen to Dr. Phil. In addition to the legal matters, you may need help with managing your resentments and worries, working effectively with your ex, developing a parenting plan, and coming to terms with your new financial situation. These are the principle reasons divorcing spouses often turn first to lawyers to guide them – the process seems too fraught with emotional and practical landmines to manage on their own. But asking a lawyer to help every step of the way is expensive – particularly when paying a lawyer’s regular fee for advice in areas for which they are not trained, like what to tell the children or how to handle an angry text from your ex. This problem is even more acute for couples managing their own divorce without lawyers: Who do they turn to when they hit an impasse or are worried they are making bad agreements?
Whether you are using a lawyer or an online-service, one resource for any divorcing spouse facing such challenges is a divorce coach. Often charging less than half of an attorney’s regular fee and trained to provide a “flexible process to support, motivate and guide people through divorce based on their particular interests, needs and concerns” (American Bar Association), divorce coaches can be a cost-effective way for couples to get guidance and information to supplement their lawyer’s work or to manage their own divorce.
Who are divorce coaches?
Divorce coaches come from various professional backgrounds, including law, mental health, and finance. Consequently, divorcing spouses can choose a coach based on their specific needs. If couples are unsure about a parenting-time schedule for young children, for example, they might find that a mental health professional with a background in child and family psychology will be most helpful. When a couple has tricky financial matters to sort out, someone with a financial background would be appropriate.
Are divorce coaches certified or licensed?
Not really. There are organizations that provide training and certification to professionals who want to call themselves divorce coaches, but divorce coaches are not certified and licensed by the state like lawyers, psychologists, and financial planners. Consequently, just about anyone can say he or she offers divorce coaching. In fact, some divorce coaches’ only experience is their own divorce. The key is to find someone who is: 1. Licensed in a relevant area of professional practice (e.g., law, psychology, financial planning), 2. has expertise in the area for which you need help, and 3. has experience or training providing consultation and coaching in divorce-related matters.
What do divorce coaches cost?
Like many professionals, divorce coaches typically charge by the hour – although their fees are generally much lower than lawyers’ fees. In fact, many divorce coaches charge less than half of what lawyers’ typically charge. Of course, the more you use them, the more they cost.
What do divorce coaches do?
Divorce coaches don’t offer legal advice and they can’t represent you in court, but they can help you sort out ways to solve particular problems, point you towards needed information and resources, and provide tips and strategies to handle your emotions as well as those of family members. Do you need to kvetch about your soon-to-be-ex but don’t want to burden your friends or pay your lawyer’s hourly fee? A divorce coach might be just the right sounding board and a source of useful coping strategies. All thumbs when it comes to organizing your financial picture? Then a finance professional can help you collect your financial information, organize it into an efficient, easy-to-understand spreadsheet, and help you plan your post-divorce budget. In fact, many couples find that working with a divorce coach provides the tools and information they need to do most of the legwork on their own, saving legal fees as well time and emotional resources.