With regard to the best divorce results, the team of professionals that one enlists consists of the following: a family law attorney/mediator, financial advisor, therapist, accountant, and a divorce coach. Many divorces require additional professionals because of the complex issues. A real estate broker, mortgage broker, appraiser [business or personal belongings], forensic accountant, private investigator and/or insurance agent may also be needed.
The family law attorney will provide an overview of legal expectations and an education of the legal guidelines, often referred to as laws. Attorneys are retained to present the best interest of their clients and advocate for them to the opposing side and in court. Clients depend on their attorneys, as experts, to garner pertinent information and work with the finance professionals to settle the business part of the divorce. (Felder & Victor, 2003, p. 22)
The financial advisor will provide an understanding of the assets and the impact of the equitable division of the assets. The financial advisor will also need to know the marital debts and how they will be distributed. The accountant, CPA or tax advisor will make recommendations regarding future tax consequences of your decisions and offer advice on how to file while you are still married although no longer living together.
A therapist for the children is instrumental in the process as the family transitions to their new lives. This professional is often requested to make recommendations regarding parenting plans. A therapist is also recommended for the adults. Grief and loss can wreak havoc on one’s ability to make intelligent decisions. A roller coaster of emotions is often experienced by the parties. A therapist may offer support as one navigates this stormy transition.
A divorce coach can offer support and guidance through the divorce and a safe place for the client to process information. The divorce coach does not provide legal advice, act as a substitute for an attorney or make therapeutic recommendations. A divorce coach can help clients navigate the process, thus reducing stress and anxiety and ultimately save money on legal fees. During divorce, it is often difficult for clients to distinguish business matters from the emotional issues. A divorce coach can serve as a personal mentor/cheerleader/project manager throughout the process. The coach supports clients to separate emotional decisions from thoughtful choices.
A parent faced with divorce has parenting issues that need to be dealt with that can cause significant emotional upheaval. A divorce coach works with the client to review the situation carefully, understand the various options available, and discuss the impact to the lives of the children and the parents. Creating a parenting schedule is often challenging but it’s best for the parents to create it and not leave the decision to the officers of the court. The coach can help with informed decisions about lifestyle changes, family dynamics and new social interactions. The coach can work with the parent to role play in the new roles as co-parent. It often takes some time for the parties to grasp the new parenting plans and living arrangements. The divorce coach can assist in the creation and implementation of the new schedules. The adjustment period for these changes varies from family to family because of all of the players and personalities involved.
Other benefits for clients are being accountable for the work that needs to be done to move forward in the process; establishing SMART goals and working to achieve these goals; having someone knowledgeable to process various scenarios; ability to role play the various unfamiliar situations; being with someone who is invested in listening; and helping the client to learn and develop in spite of the confusion.
The focus is on the present situation, the divorce, and learning how to approach and manage the challenges and decisions that divorce presents. Divorce is a life altering change. Having an awareness of the factors necessary for change and the various stages of change makes it easier for clients to remain calm and patient and work within the framework of the process. (Lucatorto, 2012, para. 5) Ideally, the divorce coach offers structure and holds the client responsible and encourages him/her to assume a pro-active role in the divorce. It is not the job of the attorney, the accountant, the financial advisor, etc. to oversee the many components of the divorce.
A coach may recommend material for clients to read, projects to work on, or review a situation from various angles. Another important function of the coach is being able to guide and support clients to clarify their feelings, thoughts, needs and concerns in an effort to more effectively communicate to the other professionals on the team.
Effective communication sans aggression and attitude mitigates tension and promotes understanding between spouses, as well as parents and children. Additionally, being clear and precise while relaying facts and identifying pertinent questions aids a client to choose and clearly communicate with his/her attorney.
The divorce process is all about negotiation. Effective negotiation requires a breakdown of the situation into manageable steps. The divorce coach can assist the client in identifying the steps and prioritizing the tasks that need to be done. This is often difficult for clients given their current mental status.
In order to achieve the goal of transitioning through divorce with peace, confidence and direction, the divorce coach will encourage clients to identify a support system of family and friends to offer encouragement through the difficult time. All too often individuals are bombarded with “advice” from friends, family, and neighbors, which can be overwhelming, confusing, and dangerous. The divorce coach can help the client sift through the advice and determine the value and create a plan for follow-up. Motivated clients realize their own strengths and work with the coach to tap into them to overcome obstacles, prepare and participate in negotiations, and create a plan for the future.
In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.
Robert Anderson, Economist (Felder & Victor, 2003)