Collaborative Divorce Coaching Outline

In the traditional adversarial method, many parents use the process as a therapeutic tool to heal or sooth their pain, to justify their actions, or to seek vindication for the perceived “wrong” of the other parent, all of which become powerful emotional weapons to be used to “win at all costs” – and cost it does, a lot, both emotionally and financially.

In the collaborative process, the coaches are there to assist the parents when they hit these emotional roadblocks. Therefore, instead of paying their attorneys to conduct research, discovery and trial preparation to “battle” the other spouse, the parents spend their money on resolving their issues constructively and fairly with the cooperative assistance of their professional team.

Emotional Issues
Parents going through the divorce process are full of emotions and feelings. They may be angry and frustrated. They may have fears and apprehensions. They bring these same emotions and feelings into the collaborative divorce process.

The collaborative divorce coach is there to help make sense of the parents’ emotions and to assist them in dealing with those emotions in pro-active and positive manner. They will also teach the parent some of the ways in which the parent can manage their negative emotions so they will not get in the way of the collaborative process. The coach will also help the parent identify and separate emotional issues from legal issues. When the emotions are being dealt with appropriately then a path is cleared for the collaborative process to work. This is a process which allows parents to clarify their thinking so they can make more positive decisions for themselves and their restructuring family.
By keeping the emotional issues from getting in the way of the restructuring process, the collaborative divorce coach can join with the parents and assist them in working on what is ultimately best for all family members, both now and in the future.

A large part of the duties of a collaborative divorce coach is to educate the parents about how their divorce will affect their children. The skills needed to help children grow through their parents’ divorce are different than normal parenting skills. Education about what the children are experiencing allows the parents to make positive informed decisions.

Collaborative coaches also educate parents about the benefits of being able to keep cool and think clearly in tense situations. These are tools which the parent will be able to use for the rest of their lives, in all kinds of different situations.

The inclusion of the educational and informative team approach helps the clients understand that the collaborative family law process can be used as a healing tool, a benefit of which is a safe, supportive and encouraging environment for difficult conversations. This allows the clients the opportunity to look at the bigger picture of how the restructuring family is going to look after the process is over.

Collaborative divorce coaches assist parents in learning new communication skills such as clarifying ideas and presenting them in an effective and positive manner. This is especially important when the parents are discussing co-parenting issues.

This new communication style allows the parents to see their situation form the other parents’ eyes. This new way of communicating assists the parents in further clarifying and communicating their desires and concerns.

When a collaborative divorce coach is used, the children are the ones that “win.” They win because the parents have dealt with their parent issues in a proactive manner within a safe environment. By parents dealing with their issues between themselves (and with the support and encouragement of the collaborative professional team) and by not dragging their marital “stuff” through the adversarial courts for years (typically with their children caught in the middle of the battleground), the parents have done a very heroic and honorable act – they have allowed their children to remain children. They have not demanded their children take sides, they have not challenged their children’s loyalty, they have not required or needed their children to parent them because they are so emotionally spent. By showing their children how to negotiate through a very traumatic experience, the parents have demonstrated an excellent role model for their children.

In the collaborative divorce model the parents are the true heros.