Divorce Coaching from a Divorce Mediator’s Perspective
I love being a divorce mediator. I love watching people in conflict learn to work through past business and look toward the future, as co-problem solvers. It’s so important – especially if couples have kids. Regardless of whether they are in a high conflict divorce, or just trying to iron out a few parenting plan issues, learning how to take their relationship status from “married” to “co-parents” will improve their lives (and their children) immeasurably. And now? I also love being a divorce coach.
Finding new ways to connect with and help people is something that really fills my cup. Learning new things makes me so happy. And that’s why I’ve taken extensive training to add divorce coaching to the list of services I provide. Because what I’ve found is that sometimes people who come to me for mediation actually need one-on-one support to help them get through their divorce. They come to me distraught, scared, and without a direction. They don’t understand the legal and business aspects of divorce, and they aren’t equipped emotionally to navigate it all alone.
A divorce coach is like a thought partner who helps you become the quarterback for your divorce. We help you gather your resources and documentation, and help prepare questions for attorneys, mediators, and financial advisors – we help you find your own path through the messy landscape of divorce so that you feel (and are) in control. We help you emotionally, too – through the path of divorce and into the full, rich, free life afterward.
“If I had a dime” someone has told me they wish they’d had a divorce coach when they were going through divorce…! And I include myself in that number. When I went through my own divorce I was so scared. I felt like I was underwater with no way to pop my head up to see where I was. I was without a life jacket. I didn’t understand the legal process and felt buffeted around by emails and communications with attorneys and divorce professionals and the court. I wasn’t empowered in the process and my attorney did NOT want to listen to me cry! (Plus, it’s VERY expensive to cry in an attorney’s office!)
And mediation? Yes, I had it. And guess what. It freaking sucked. I wasn’t prepared at all for it (a divorce coach could have actually helped me with that). It was the most expensive several hours of my life (I was paying the mediator’s hourly rate, plus my attorney’s hourly rate) – and for what? We didn’t resolve much of anything. The mediator came in and the first thing she asked me was how many children I had…I was shocked. Didn’t she not have a hand on top of a huge file about our divorce? How much was I paying her? Did she not even know how many children we were going to be talking about?
You think I’d have been jaded by that whole experience, but I wasn’t. I could tell that mediation had the potential to be a profoundly powerful experience, and that’s why I decided to learn everything I could about conflict resolution, communication, and how the “system” could be improved. And the conclusion I came to was that people really need more support, more options, more agency, more education, more tools.
The average cost of divorce in the US is $18,000 per person. Who can afford that? I couldn’t – I had to take out a loan to pay for my end of the divorce (and it was way more than $18k).
It doesn’t have to be that way.
When people ask me about the cost of divorce, I tell them the truth – they can do it alone for a few hundred bucks, but risk making mistakes that could cost tens of thousands down the road and/or ruin any chances they might have of a decent co-parenting relationship with their ex. They could also go the traditional litigation route, with attorneys doing everything for you. That is usually the most expensive route. OR, they could opt for something in between – they could still utilize the professional services of people like mediators, certified divore financial analysts, divorce coaches, and yes, sometimes attorneys. But with the right support, they are able to keep those costs under control and wind up with the best of both worlds.
The Middle Path.
If they are quarterbacking their own divorce, they can manage costs, make good decisions that are from an informed place (not a place of fear and anger), and benefit from all the professionals they might need. To me, it’s the best path forward. It might not be free, but the benefits of working with a divorce coach (and other divorce professionals, as needed) far outweighs the anguish of spiraling legal bills, not having control of the process (or even understanding it), and the potential long term negative effects that divorce can bring.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and needs some support, try checking out a divorce coach. We can help.
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If you are interested in learning more about how to use mediation techniques to reduce conflict at home, or anywhere, let me know!
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Fort Collins, CO
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