The Collaborative Law Divorce Coach

Collaborative Law recognizes that a divorce, business or family dispute is not just a legal event – it is an emotional event as well. Collaborative Law addresses this through the use of a “Collaborative coach” or a “divorce coach.” Although we usually think of coaches in the divorce context, a coach can assist in business or estate matters, or other Collaborative cases that have either a relational or an emotional component.

Imagine being emotionally devastated by the fact of divorce.

And then imagine being asked to sit and discuss the “business” of the divorce.

Could you sit in that meeting with a clear mind?

That’s where a divorce coach comes in.

A coach is a mental health professional who helps clients navigate more effectively through the difficult aspects of a case. However, a Collaborative coach is not the same thing as a therapist. The main job of the coach is to help the client(s) address and work through anything that may be getting in the way of productively coming to an agreement. Although divorce coaches are usually thought of in the Collaborative Law context, they are also frequently used in mediation.

Here are a few things a Collaborative coach might help a client with:

  • Understanding why a particular topic is difficult for the client to address and using tools to work through that.
  • Work on effective listening.
  • Work on effective communication.
  • Helping the client become more comfortable speaking up for him or herself.
  • Identifying the client’s interests (what’s important to the client).
  • Considering the other person’s interests (what’s important to the other)

A coach can assist with most of the challenging dynamics associated with the divorce process. However, a coach does not act as a therapist or a medical provider and should not be considered a substitute for these other professionals.

Coaching Models

There are two main coaching models: one-coach and two coach. The one-coach model consists of a single coach working with both participants in a neutral capacity. In a way, the coach in a one-coach model acts as an informal mediator to help the parties come to a place where they can work effectively together. The coach will usually do separate introduction meetings with each client followed by a joint meeting. The coach may recommend either joint or separate meetings going forward.

Each client will have their own coach in a two-coach model. Coaches in this model tend to be more aligned with their individual clients as opposed to the neutrally-oriented one-coach model. Each coach will meet with their respective client separately, but both coaches will also meet with both clients in a “coaching 4-way.” The coaches will typically communicate with one another to share insights, ideas and client concerns. Sometimes a third coach will act as the neutral coach, working with both clients and both individual coaches.

Every Collaborative Law case is a client-centered and custom-designed to suit the needs of the particular clients. Because each case is unique, each coaching arrangement is unique as well. 

It’s important to note that some cases many not use coaches at all. Coaches are optional and simply many not be needed in some cases. 


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