Collaborative divorce: Role of the divorce coach

In collaborative divorce, the divorce coach is a mental health professional who assists divorcing spouses through impasses in communication and emotional turmoil in the negotiation process.

A divorce coach is a mental health professional who may be a social worker, therapist or psychologist. Divorce coaches receive special training in collaborative divorce to help divorcing people get through negotiations in which they have pledged to conduct themselves with honesty, dignity and respect.

But that positive behavior can be difficult during a time of trauma and sometimes anger and resentment or even guilt. The divorce coach can help a spouse to process those feelings and continue to move forward through impasses during negotiation.

Normally each party hires their own divorce coach for the collaborative process, but a couple may decide to share one coach, if appropriate. Divorce coaches are not conducting therapy within the collaborative contest, rather they are facilitating difficult communication. As part of the communication coaching piece, the coach may help the spouse process emotions coming up in the negotiation process so that the discussion can continue from a place of calm and dignity.

Collaboration as a divorce process

So, what is collaborative law? Collaboration is a recently invented process through which people can get divorced without going to court. Each has a specially trained lawyer and negotiations are conducted through a series of four-way meetings with the clients and their lawyers present.

The parties pledge to act with respect and to stay out of court. If the process fails, each must fire their collaborative lawyer and hire someone else to continue the divorce in a new process.

Sometimes, the parties hire neutral third-party professionals to attend meetings and to assist in developing information needed to come to informed settlement. These neutrals might include parent or child specialists, financial planners and tax advisors and more, but the divorce coach is a unique kind of professional sometimes brought in to assist.

Consider the processes available carefully

When it works well, collaborative divorce can be less stressful and contentious as well as cheaper. The parties can negotiate a creative agreement in the interests of themselves and their children. But, collaboration is not right for everyone. For example, if one spouse is overly controlling or has a history of abusive behavior, the other spouse should not use collaboration.

It is important for anyone contemplating collaborative divorce to talk to an experienced, collaboratively trained lawyer about the pros and cons as well as the other options so that the spouse can make an informed decision in their best interests.

With trained collaborative divorce lawyers, Stange Law Firm offers collaborative divorce representation to clients throughout Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. The firm also provides divorce services through mediation, traditional negotiation and trial, if necessary.