The Role of the "Divorce Coach"

Date: JUN 07, 2016

One of the key advantages of the Collaborative approach to divorce and separation is the fact that the process encourages effective communication and listening between the two parties.  It recognises the fact that a separation is not just a legal event, but a very personal situation that is unique to the individuals concerned.
Unfortunately, in some situations, couples may find it difficult to express their true feelings or they may find it hard to negotiate an agreement in a particular area of their separation.  This is where a 'divorce coach' may be of assistance.
As part of the collaborative process couples are entitled to utilise the services of a collaborative divorce coach - a mental health professional who is able to help clients navigate the more difficult aspects of their separation.  Divorce coaches don't act as therapists or counsellors during the process, but use their training and skills to help the couple focus on their goals and achieve a positive outcome in the collaborative process.  
The coaches' main job is to help the client, or clients, work through any of the issues that may be getting in the way of reaching an agreement.
What does a Divorce Coach do?
Divorce coaches are experienced in working with couples, families and children and are knowledgeable about the problems and issues that can arise in a separation or divorce. Most importantly, they have been trained in the collaborative family law model and are governed by professional organisations that ensure the highest standards of practice.  
They can help clients with a variety of issues such as:
  • Identifying what is important to them as an individual, including their concerns, goals and priorities during the collaborative process
  • Articulating their feelings and concerns clearly and becoming more confident in expressing their needs
  • Developing more effective communication and listening skills
  • Managing emotions and dealing with their anger and stress throughout the separation process
  • Addressing the needs and concerns of any children involved and how to minimise the impact on them
How does it work?
Every Collaborative Family Law case is different - by its very nature, the collaborative approach encourages a client-centred and custom-designed approach to suit the needs of the individual clients.  So, because each case is unique, each coaching arrangement is unique as well. 
In some cases just one client will have a coach.  They may utilise the coach's expertise to help them to determine their individual needs and gain confidence in their ability to negotiate.  In other cases both clients will each have their own individual coach to help them identify their own priorities, see the other person's perspective and clearly express their feelings and ideas. Sometimes, both clients will use the same coach who acts as something of a mediator for the emotional components of the case, and finally, in some cases each client will have their own individual coach and there will be a neutral coach as well.  
Of course, if the parties involved are confident in their ability to communicate with each other and understand the key issues involved they may choose not to use a coach at all.
If you are considering using the collaborative law process to finalise your separation or divorce and feel that you may benefit from the services of a divorce coach, speak to your collaborative lawyer.  There are a number of coaches located throughout Greater Sydney, including those listed on the Specialist Adviser section of our website, and your lawyer would be happy to provide contact details if required.
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