My blog post here is inspired by a blog post by Karen Bigman, who identifies herself as a “divorce coach.” Here is the link to her post, there’s a link to her website at the end too. Karen’s—I’ll call her Karen—post is entitled “5 Reasons Everyone Going Through a Divorce Needs a Divorce Coach.”
OK, while a divorce coach may help some (meaning few) people, I’ll start out with telling you I think that a divorce coach is, for most people, even for people in really messy divorces, even for really wealthy people, even for rather clueless people, for most people a needless additional expense. Using what Karen states in her article as our guide, I’ll explain why.
Karen makes the point that going through a divorce is an incredibly emotional and overwhelming process. “From making the decision to divorce or having the decision made for you, to finding the right divorce professionals, understanding the financial situation, figuring out how to co-parent and all that goes with that, divorce can really knock even the most ‘together’ person down.” Wouldn’t it be great if someone could help you take care of all this? Karen suggests that a Divorce Coach can be: your “Thinking Partner”; your “Resource Source”; your Project Manager”; your “Communications Manager”; and your “Personal Coach”.
What’s a thinking partner? According to Karen, when there’s no one to turn to your Divorce Coach will be there to bounce ideas off of. Your coach will ask the right questions so you can think in a more factual way rather than impulsively through a haze of emotions. I disagree. If you have a divorce lawyer, then your lawyer can and should serve that purpose. Folks, if your lawyer isn’t there to bounce ideas off of, isn’t asking the right questions, isn’t helping you see and analyze the critical facts, and isn’t checking your emotions and impulses, the answer isn’t necessarily a divorce coach, but a better lawyer.
What’s the “Resource Source”? Karen says your coach can give you information on many different specialized divorce professionals and processes and help you decide which one is best for your situation. Again, your divorce lawyer, if he or she is any good, should have this same information and should help you decided which options are best for you. If your lawyer doesn’t, you don’t need a divorce coach, you need (and deserve) a better lawyer.
What is a Project Manager? Karen describes this as someone who will help you get organized so you know all the things you have to do in your divorce case and in your life around divorce. The project manager coach will help you prepare for meetings with attorneys and financial professionals. I hate to sound like a broken record, but if your lawyer doesn’t or won’t help you get organized, explain all the things you have to do, and prepare you for meetings and court and every other aspect of your divorce case, the answer lies not in hiring and paying for yet another professional, but finding a good lawyer.
What is a “Communications Manager”? Karen describes this role as the person who “works with you to prepare for meetings with your spouse so you can present a coherent front despite the emotions swarming through your head,” someone who can “talk you through how to tell the children and help them through it and to how to interact with them when it comes to your changed relationship with your spouse.” OK, this is clearly an area where you attorney may be able to help you, but also an area in which your lawyer may not be the best qualified to help you and may not be in a position to offer such advice. But is the right person for that job a divorce coach? Why not a professional mental health counselor or therapist? If you can’t face your spouse or kids to discuss divorce, you may need stronger medicine than what a divorce coach offers.
Finally, what is your “Personal Coach”? Karen describes this person as someone who helps keep you grounded, helps prepare you to face the world as a newly single individual, keeps you motivated, builds your self-confidence back up, and offers encouragement to keep up your physical strength and take care of yourself. With due respect, that sounds like the role of a loving Mom, your best friend, your minister, and a support group (all free of charge, by the way), and not the job for a divorce coach who charges you $95 per hour and up.
Divorce coaching may be just the ticket for you, but in my opinion, with rare exception it isn’t.
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