Dissolving a marriage and/or establishing a custody arrangement involves first and foremost legal issues. But it is also involves difficult emotional and financial issues. Although an experienced family law attorney will have developed knowledge and skill in address the emotional and financial issues, adding a divorce coach, neutral financial professional, and (if necessary) neutral child specialist to your “team” can lead to a much more satisfying experience and can significantly reduce your attorney fees (making the cost of these services a worthwhile investment).
Although a divorce coach is a therapist (usually a Marriage of Family Therapist, or “MFT”), their role is not one of “therapy.” Their role is specifically to help you through this process. They do so by helping you to clarify what is most important to you when negotiating a solution to the various issue. Although your collaborative lawyer will help you with this as well, your divorce coach has the training and experience to help you dig deeper. This has the additional benefit of reducing your attorney fees by providing you with clarity early, without requiring your attorney to spend unnecessary time helping you think these things through. The divorce coach will also help you recognize what will “push your buttons” and what will push the buttons of your spouse. By identifying those things that “activate” you and prevent you (and your spouse) from bringing your best selves to the table, the divorce coach can help you find techniques to avoid these problems and can help maximize your ability to be present and effective when working with your mediator or collaborative team. Greater effectiveness in negotiations results in reduced fees for your mediator or collaborative lawyer.
If a parenting plan must be created in your case, your team might include a neutral child specialist. This would be a therapist with experience and education in child development and the effect of divorce on children. The child specialist can give you advice about the children’s perspective when developing a parenting plan. Although children should rarely be given control over complex issues that require knowledge and experience to resolve appropriately, the children’s best interests are always served by considering their perspective and respecting their need to provide input. A child specialist can also give parents guidance on how to minimize the negative impact of the divorce on children, as well as to dispel any unnecessary fears they may have.
Although an experienced family law attorney or mediator is knowledgeable about a multitude of financial issues, a neutral financial professional can greatly assist in reducing the cost of gathering the necessary financial information and clearly anticipating the financial implications of the various options available to resolve the case. Again, although utilizing yet another professional may seem like an additional burdensome expense, it is often an “investment” that pays dividends in greater clarity during negotiations (leading to a quicker resolutions) and a reduction in the time that the mediator or collaborative professional will be spending in gathering information.