If you are planning or anticipating a dissolution , retaining the advice and services of a good divorce lawyer is imperative, and in southern California, you’ll want to contact an experienced Orange County divorce attorney. Hiring the right divorce attorney is the key to making certain that your dissolution is handled properly, that you are treated fairly, and that your children’s best interests come first.

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While a good attorney can handle the legal aspects of your divorce, and your attorney needs to be understanding and sensitive to your concerns, other aspects of a divorce may require other kinds of help. Divorcing spouses often have anger, fear, and depression issues, barriers to communications with the ex and the kids, or difficulty with the parenting schedule or the new financial situation. When these are the kinds of challenges you face, you might consider looking into help from a “divorce coach.”

WHO HIRES DIVORCE COACHES AND WHAT DO THEY COST?

Most of us have heard about “life coaches.” They’re hired primarily by very busy people to offer advice on everything from finances to romance to exercise and health. “Divorce coaches” have only recently emerged, and they essentially function as temporary life coaches who guide you through the dissolution process. The American Bar Association actually defines “divorce coaching” on its website as “a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future, based on their particular interests, needs and concerns.”

Your first thought may be that a dissolution coach is probably expensive – something that will drive up the cost of divorce. However, the coaches and some of their clients say that divorce coaches can actually save if money if you follow their advice. Instead of relying on an attorney or a healthcare professional for services like providing emotional support, dissolution coaches can offer non-legal services at a substantially lower cost.

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WHAT DO DIVORCE COACHES OFFER?

Divorce coaches come from a variety of backgrounds. When you look, you’ll find social workers, psychologists, bankers, accountants, nutrition and health experts, and even pastors and priests working as dissolution coaches. Michael Boulette, who teaches family law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, says “There are people who are dissolution financial planners that want to coach you with really an eye to helping you learn financial independence. Others have a mental health background and they’re helping you navigate the complex emotional feelings that you’re going through without necessarily being in a therapy setting.”

HOW SHOULD YOU SELECT A DIVORCE COACH?

What makes selecting a dissolution coach a challenge is that anybody can claim to be one. There’s no degree in divorce coaching and no professional association that sets standards. So, to find a qualified dissolution coach, you’ll want to scrutinize a person’s resume closely and then interview the person. Choose someone with at least a master’s degree or at least five years of successful dissolution coaching experience. Make sure that a divorce coach is recommended by his or her previous clients. You’re probably going to want someone who works as a counselor or psychologist, who practices family therapy or family psychology, or a mediator who has a background in family mediation.

You must have a divorce attorney, of course, but it’s not realistic to expect an attorney to handle every aspect of a dissolution. Your attorney will handle the legal side of your dissolution – the court dates, the filings, and negotiating the final divorce agreement on your behalf. A good attorney will fight relentlessly and tenaciously to ensure that you are treated properly in the dissolution process and that justice is served. But when you have other divorce issues, you may need to seek help elsewhere. Your attorney may be able to recommend a divorce coach or other resources in the community. Southern California has no shortage of counselors and advisors, both public and private, in every price range.

CAN DIVORCE COACHES PREPARE YOU FOR DIVORCE?

Sabrina Martin needed advice from someone who wasn’t a friend or an attorney. She sought the services of a local divorce coach who helped her even before she announced that the marriage was over. Sabrina’s coach encouraged her to look past the dissolution to the future she wanted for herself and her daughter. When she learned that her husband was having an affair, Sabrina’s coach helped her find some perspective.

Thanks to that preparation, Sabrina’s consultations with her attorney were quite productive, and a final agreement was reached in less than two months, keeping the total cost of her dissolution quite affordable. “Emotions are a huge component of divorce,” says Lynn Kaplan, a Toronto-based didissolution vorce coach with a background in mediation and family law. She adds that if the emotional side of dissolution isn’t handled properly, it can spill over – negatively – to the legal side.

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Divorce coaching is growing and gaining support, even from divorce lawyers. One Toronto divorce attorney says that clients who work with a divorce coach are clients who are better prepared. “They come to meetings coping better and with a different attitude. They have more focused discussions, and it makes our life a lot easier to have someone able to focus on the legal issues and making good decisions as opposed to being ruled by emotions.”

For people who need assistance managing their money and understanding their new financial reality, a dissolution coach with a financial background can be quite helpful. Divorce coach Sandy Arons, an accredited financial counselor and mediator who owns Arons & Associates Divorce Financial Planning in Brentwood, Tennessee, says, “I focus on understanding the client’s financial fears and ensure the settlement addresses those fears, such as if they will they have enough money to stay in the house, if they will have to go back to work and how they will pay for private school,” she says. “I also review the parenting plan with clients, calculate the child support payment and help them create a very detailed monthly expense worksheet.”

WHAT WILL A DIVORCE COACH RECOMMEND?

What are the most important recommendations that a dissolution coach can offer to someone who’s in the middle of the dissolution process? Here are three important tips from dissolution coach and nationally-acclaimed author Laura Miolla:

  • Be unmistakably clear and precise about what you want: Too many divorcing spouses simply endure the dissolution process to get it over with. When you know what you want, you have a purpose and you have a goal to reach for.
  • “Silence your saboteurs”: Acknowledge your own fears and the criticisms of others, then set those fears and criticisms aside and move ahead constructively.
  • Respect yourself: Stand up for yourself, and never let yourself feel humiliated or defeated. Retaining your honor and dignity is the key to retaining your emotional health and to coming out of a divorce prepared to move forward with life.

Ms. Miolla also writes that, “Divorce challenges you to have the courage to step forward, to face your fears and move forward anyway. You have one life on this earth and it is your responsibility to live it as best you can. No excuses.” If you want to come out of a dissolution prepared to move forward positively and constructively with your life, consider the option of hiring a dissolution coach.

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You’ll need an attorney as well – that’s not an option – so in southern California, make sure that if you are divorcing, considering dissolution , or if you simply need to learn more, you retain the services of an experienced Orange County dissolution attorney. The dissolution help you need is here, and an experienced dissolution attorney can recommend a good divorce coach, but you must take the first step on your own and make the call.

By: Bayati Brian

Brian A. Bayati has been named three times as a top Orange County divorce attorney by OC Metro Magazine. He graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he was a judicial extern to the U.S. Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) and a public service mediator. Prior to founding Bayati Law Group, he was part of a civil litigation firm with offices across the nation. Bayati Law Group focuses exclusively on the practice of family law.