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What is a divorce coach in a collaborative divorce?

Every marriage is different. Similarly, every divorce is unique. Though many of the same issues, such as child custody, child support, alimony and property division, can come into play, the specific assets, individuals and relationships involved can shape the way a divorce unfolds. In an attempt to accommodate varying personalities and divorce situations, there are many types of divorces available to Louisianans. Though traditional litigation is always an option, many opt for a collaborative divorce, where a team is assembled to help a divorcing couple come to an agreement that is fair.

One part of a collaborative divorce team is the divorce coach. This individual, who is typically a mental health professional, works with the couple to help them deal with emotional issues that may arise during settlement negotiations. This person is not a therapist, but can help a couple through their emotional hang ups so that a resolution can be reached. This can be done by working on respectful listening, seeing the situation from the other person's point of view, setting goals for each party's future, discussing the wants and needs of the couple's children, and helping parents realize that the needs of their children should come before their own needs.

This assistance can be powerful in the negotiating room. The purpose of collaborative divorce is to encourage an open dialogue so that the parties, who likely know each other quite well, can end on their terms instead of on a judge's. A divorce coach can spur this process along, working with the couple to ensure that they can truly collaborate on their marriage dissolution and, perhaps, avoid future conflicts.

Though the divorce coach can be quite beneficial in these matters, he or she should not take the place of a divorce attorney. An attorney can work with an individual to still aggressively pursue the divorcing party's wants and needs and ensure that his or her legal rights are fully protected.

Source: Collaborative Law Institute, "Divorce Coach," accessed on June 11, 2016

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