What is this new phenomenon known as a divorce coach? In Australia we have coaches for our footy and netball teams, personal trainers to help us coach our bodies, career coaches and life coaches – all to help train us to make good decisions and reach our goals. The rise of the divorce coach is a more recent phenomenon in our culture, but one that is embraced thoroughly by those who use them. So what is a divorce coach and what do they do?
Carolyn Madden is a divorce coach from Divorce Coaching Australia based in Sydney. According to Ms Madden, the importance of a ‘neutral third party’ within a divorce process should not be underestimated. A divorce coach can be that neutral third party.
The Role of the Divorce Coach
Ms Madden says her role is to not only help a couple prepare for the extremely complex divorce process but also to get them to think about all the unknowns that may lie ahead. “People can often be quite unrealistic about what’s involved, thinking they will force it to be over quickly and that they can’t fail to get what they believe they are entitled to,” Madden says. She describes the divorce process as a potential “minefield”, particularly when the parties involved don’t put enough thought into how their lives are going to change.
Sometimes Madden gets involved quite early on in the process, consulting with a client about how they should go about informing their spouse the marriage is over. “Where one party has been contemplating separation for some time, they will be in a different place to the other party and how they tell their partner may impact on that person’s approach throughout the proceedings. Being blind-sided can increase anger and resentment and the desire to get back at the other partner.
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Divorce coaches do not take the place of counselors or lawyers. ‘It’s not counselling or legal advice, but is complimentary to both; it’s about the person looking forward to where they want to be and helping them work out the road to get there,’ says Madden.
Tips From a Divorce Coach
These are the tips that Carolyn Madden has for couples who are breaking up:
- Get organised and keep good records, as the divorce process and the stress involved can often impact on one’s memory.
- Also, make sure you have a self-care plan. It’s going to be difficult, so even setting aside a 15-minute walk each day can help.
- Try not to self-medicate with alcohol as this can impact your ability to make controlled decisions and function well at home or at work.
- Other tips include keeping a routine to give you structure, and ‘taking the high road as much as possible.
- After the dust settles you will have to live with decisions you make and actions you have taken.
- This does not mean you have to roll over all the time but it’s better to know that you have acted with good intentions.
- Be child focused and try to work towards co-parenting as opposed to two single parents as much as possible.
- This puts the kids in the middle more and can be alienating to both parents.
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Of all of these, looking after the most vulnerable is the area to focus the most on. When there are children who are being impacted by the separation and divorce then they need to come first. What people often don’t realise in the middle of all of the turmoil though is that they also need to look after themselves to be able to do this well.
A Strategy for Sabrina
When Sabrina Martin needed advice from someone who wasn’t a friend, a lawyer or the Internet, she turned to a local divorce coach who helped her devise a strategy before she even announced the end of the marriage. Martin’s coach encouraged her to look past the divorce, at the kind of future she wanted for herself and her daughter, and at the financial support to which she was entitled to. When she learned about an affair her husband was having during the separation process, her coach helped her find some perspective. Because of that preparation, Martin’s meetings with her lawyer were highly efficient – a final separation agreement was reached in under two months, keeping the total cost of divorce low. “She offered a breadth and depth of perspective that was calm and grounding,” Martin says.
A Divorce Coach Can Further Reduce Conflict
Divorce Coach Naomi Douglas from the Gold Coast in Queensland feels her work saves money and reduces conflict. “People who use a divorce coach experience many profound benefits. They save money often by reducing conflict and legal fees. They protect themselves and their children from the harm of high conflict.”
“Often with divorce coaching, I work with only one party,” Naomi said. “My work with both parties is usually either in cases where marriage reconciliation is a possibility or when separated or divorced parent wish to work with me on developing a better co-parenting relationship.” She says it’s as much about managing practical matters as well as developing clear strategies. “At the same time I work with them closely in regards to the emotional and personal issues they are struggling with. I also guide them to provide a healthy secure environment for their children.”
At Divorce Lawyers Brisbane we encourage couples to have a divorce that is as low in conflict as possible. We always encourage and assist our clients to mediate – with a view to hopefully avoiding the emotional and financial costs of a court battle. Our experienced family lawyers offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation. Please contact us today!