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The Divorce Coach

Divorce Coaches: Helping Protect the Divorce Process

Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are becoming better known as useful and important options to consider when contemplating divorce. Both mediation and collaboration are ways of divorcing in a less conflictual and litigious manner. Both can help protect the children’s needs to have parents functioning at their best both during and after the divorce, giving the children parents who instead of being enemies, can ideally work together to co-parent. Both mediation and collaboration rely upon the establishment of a team committed to avoiding litigation and to developing a settlement agreement that is reasonable and works for the divorcing family. Depending upon the needs of each family, the team may consist of the divorcing couple, the divorce mediator or two collaborative lawyers, a neutral financial specialist, a neutral child mental health specialist and one or more divorce coaches. This article discusses some of the key aspects of the coach’s role.

The divorce coach is a mental health professional, but does not function as a therapist in the mediation or collaborative divorce process. Rather, the divorce coach is the professional who helps the divorcing couple better deal with what can be overwhelming emotion in order to facilitate the divorce process and avoid the negative impact of strong emotions on the negotiations. As such, the coach can help the divorcing spouses understand their emotions and separate emotion from thought and action so that the spouse does not inadvertently contaminate the mediation or collaborative process by reacting ineffectively to the strong emotions which are experienced.

More specifically, the coach can help divorcing persons:

  • Clarify their core values and needs related to the divorce
  • Safely vent their emotions (within the statutory and ethical limits of confidentiality)
  • Communicate effectively with the rest of the team (including their spouse)
  • View and evaluate alternatives they may not have immediately recognized
  • Avoid unnecessary conflict with other members of the team (including their spouse)
  • Build an infrastructure for the post-divorce family

The coach also serves as an on-going resource to the rest of the team, helping the team make sure it is working effectively on behalf of the divorcing couple and respecting the integrity of the mediation or collaborative process.

When divorce coaches are brought in from the start of the mediation or collaborative process they are available as a resource for each divorcing person to help promote a successful outcome and make the difficult process of divorce more bearable. A divorce coach can help protect your divorce process and thus facilitate a better outcome.

Jeffrey Zimmerman, Ph.D.