What Is A Divorce Coach – and Do I Need One?

A Divorce Coach can help couples maintain caring and respect through the process to help the entire family move forward in a healthy way. Photo: Josh Kenzer, Creative Commons license

A Divorce Coach can help couples maintain caring and respect through the process to help the entire family move forward in a healthy way. Photo: Josh Kenzer, Creative Commons license

by Lynn Waldman, LCSW, and Tina Mears, LMFT

lynn2_md

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Couples starting the Collaborative Divorce process understand they will be working with family law attorneys to help facilitate the legal requirements. They also recognize the advantages of working with a neutral financial professional such as a Certified Financial Planner or Certified Divorce Analyst, especially when there are important assets or property involved as part of the financial settlement.

But some couples don’t initially think they need a divorce coach. They say, “Well, we get along fine and we don’t need help,” or “I’m coping with everything OK, so why do I need to see a therapist?” Sometimes there are concerns, especially in Collaborative Divorce, about paying for “all these people” when they don’t seem necessary.

After many years of experience as licensed mental health professionals working with divorcing couples through the Collaborative Process, we can tell you that the investment in your emotional well-being throughout your divorce will benefit you not only today, but for many years to come.

What Is A Divorce Coach?

A Divorce Coach is a licensed mental health professional trained to assist clients with the emotional challenges of divorce, communication, parenting plans and preparation for the future. Through Collaborative Divorce, clients work on multidisciplinary teams with attorneys, fina

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego with divorce solutions. Call 858-472-4022

Tina Mears, LMFT

ncial specialists and other professionals, sharing information through a transparent process with the goal of a family-centered resolution.

How Can A Divorce Coach Help During a Divorce?

A Divorce Coach can play a critically important role in helping couples work through the process by addressing challenges in communication, emotional coping skills, and parenting.

Communication

  • Identify underlying needs and wants and how to express these interests clearly.
  • Teach communication strategies around decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Facilitate the negotiation so that everyone feels heard and solutions are found.
  • Communicate with each other, with attorneys and financial specialists frequently.

Emotional Regulation

  • Offer skill based strategies for managing emotions.
  • Provide structure when facilitating difficult conversations and negotiations.
  • Facilitate client control of the process and maintain the client’s vision for the end result.
  • Help a client’s attorneys understand individual roles, the dynamics of the team and how both affect the Collaborative Process to work more effectively.
  • Help professionals understand how relationship dynamics affect the Collaborative Process and prevent or address stumbling blocks when they occur.

Parenting Plan:

  • Offer parents a safe place to propose and discuss possible parenting plan options.
  • Consider developmental stages of children in parenting plan proposals.
  • Allow difficult emotions to be present in working through child sharing arrangements.
  • Offer insight into developing a roadmap for the new dynamics of the family.

Sometimes by default, couples begin to see their attorneys as surrogate therapists or coaches. This is understandable but not productive. Attorneys are not trained mental health professionals, and their role is to provide their valuable legal expertise. It is not an effective use of time or money to try to work through mental health issues with legal professionals.

In the long run, you will work through your emotional challenges far more easily and effectively with a trained mental health professional who understands the Collaborative Process to work with you as you navigate this critically important chapter in your life, and help prepare you and your family for the chapters ahead.

 

 

 

Do You Need A Child Specialist For Your Divorce?

Working with a Child Specialist through the Collaborative Divorce process can help your children move forward without lasting emotional damage.
Working with a Child Specialist through the Collaborative Divorce process can help your children move forward without lasting emotional damage.

Working with a Child Specialist through the Collaborative Divorce process can help your children move forward without lasting emotional damage.

by Frann Setzer, Esq.
MBA/Certified Family Law Specialist
Lewis, Warren & Setzer, LLP

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, but for those going through separation or

Attorney Frann Setzer

Family law attorney Frann Setzer

divorce that stress can be magnified. This is especially applicable for children, whose reactions to changes in holiday and family traditions may be difficult to measure. Perhaps this is the right time to add a Child Specialist to your divorce team.

Along with their attorneys and a financial neutral working with clients during the Collaborative divorce process, clients also have their coaches to lean on. Coaches are licensed mental health professionals who help clients identity intense feelings and play a key role in keeping emotions from derailing the process. While clients have strong feelings tied to finances, in my experience as a family law attorney, it is often the parents’ emotions surrounding the children that result in the most intense feelings and correspondingly, the most intense conflict, during the divorce process.

Parents worry about how their children are dealing with the divorce. They worry about establishing a routine that will work for their children. They worry about differences in parenting styles. Situations where the children might have special needs or where a child has a troubled relationship with one parent can cause particular concern. A Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with special expertise working with children.

A child specialist can help with these issues in a number of ways:

  1. Resolving differences in parenting styles or skills. A Child Specialist can help parents understand the impact of the divorce and their children’s developmental needs. While the Child Specialist will not make recommendations, he or she can convey the potential risks and protective factors unique to their children. This information can help you make parenting decisions and adapt your parenting style to the situation.
  1. Establishing an optimal schedule. The Child Specialist can also help parents by meeting with the children and then conveying to the parents an understanding of their children’s stress tolerance, developmental needs, as well that their hopes and wishes. This information can be used to help parents craft a parenting plan that works for their children, taking into consideration various factors such as how often the children should transition, whether the children stay together on the same schedule, how flexible the schedule should be. The specialist can also provide examples of schedules that might work well for the children.
  1. How are the children doing? Children often will open up to a neutral trained Child Specialist- someone who is focused on their needs and has no bias. The specialist can assess how the children are coping with the divorce. If the children need further support, the Child Specialist can make referrals to therapists in the community who specialize in divorce-related child therapy.
  1. Working with children who have special needs. Children with special needs such as autism, chronic illness, or learning disorders may benefit from the input of a Child Specialist. The specialist can help parents understand the unique needs of their child and how to structure a parenting plan that will keep the child stable and safe.
  1. Some children may have a difficult relationship with one parent. Sometimes children are drawn into loyalty conflicts and feel they must choose to align with one parent. These children are caught in the middle of their parents’ conflict. The Child Specialist can meet with the children, assess the situation, and help the parents understand the dynamics that are harming the child, the emotional needs of the child, and how the parents can co-parent successfully to support their children. The specialist can help develop a plan to heal or reconnect the estranged child and his/her parent and can make outside referrals as appropriate.

Working with a Child Specialist to address your childrens’ needs during a divorce is one of the advantages of the Collaborative Process. By recognizing and addressing the impact on your children and the outcome moving forward, family relationships can be preserved and everyone can emerge from the experience with a healthy outlook toward the future, avoiding the pain and conflict of a contentious litigated divorce. Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego to learn more.