by Jann Glasser, LSCW, LMFT
Divorce is a major life transition, at least as significant as getting married. But too often, couples spend far less time preparing for this change than they do planning their wedding reception. When they do, their energy goes toward decision about the division of property, instead of the far more important division of two lives.
Couples believe everything will be tidied up and finished when a court issues their decree of dissolution. But it rarely feels this way, making individuals anxious there will be no end to the disorientation and emotional pain they feel.
Closure can come more easily when couples make the conscious decision to pursue a Collaborative Divorce, where a professional team including legal, financial, and mental health experts facilitates peacemaking instead of helping the transitioning couple to wage war on each other.
Depending upon the needs of the couple, various professionals are selected to assist partners to peacefully transition from their lives together into two separate households. As soon as the couple has selected their team, a written contract is signed by both partners and their respective Collaborative attorneys to settle all issues outside of court.
The role of divorce coaches in the Collaborative Divorce process helps clients focus on questions designed to produce the healthiest long-term outcome for everyone. This is especially important when children are involved, but even adults can be traumatized by a divorce. This process prevents fixating on winning and losing. No one needs to “lose” in a Collaborative Divorce.
Divorce is one of the most painful emotional experiences most people may endure in their lifetime. Your divorce coach is an expert in understanding and coping with a wide range of human behavior and family systems. Their role in a Collaborative Divorce is to help with the transition process, to provide a soft landing spot to deal with the range of emotions that are inherent in any marital breakup. Coaches can help clients determine what is truly important in the divorce process, for both parents and children.
Coaches can play an extremely valuable role in helping individuals and children release their negative emotional energy that can be part of any divorce, by helping develop skills in open communication, self-management and creative problem-solving.
As a part of the Collaborative team, the divorce coach assists in separating highly volatile emotions so they do not interfere with sound decision-making. Together, goals are created to address each area of concern – highlighting strengths as well as identifying challenges.
For parents getting a divorce, a divorce coach’s goal is to help them create a co-parenting agreement that works by teaching them to focus on the real issues of the future, not past angers and disappointments. Coaches help couples to turn their issues into mutually shared interests, as they learn new problem solving skills for conflict resolution and post divorce parenting for the restructured “family apart.”
By choosing to embark upon the road of Collaborative Divorce, and with the assistance of a divorce coach to guide you along the way, my hope for you is that at the end of this journey, you can embrace the spirit of these words found in Genesis 13:8-9: “Let there be no quarrel between us for we were once family; let us separate gently; if one goes north, may the other go south; if one goes east, may the other go west. May your house be your house; and may my house be my house, and may strife and contentions not rule our hearts.”