Attorneys need credible divorce clients. Clients who deal not with the story of divorce, but rather the business of divorce. Clients who ask relevant questions and possess sound communication skills. Clients who have reasonable expectations of the court system. This is what is termed the “business” of divorce. In addition, clients need to recognize the process they likely chose is judicially centered and not client centered. And, when called for information, it must be provided as soon as possible to keep the process moving forward.
The Divorce "Story"
Divorce has a well-deserved reputation for causing clients to enter a crazy time – when logic, rational thought and common sense are sacrificed at the altar of staying in the “story” - the bitterness and resentment of what happened in the past. This divorce story weaves its emotional threads through every interaction between attorney and client.
No amount of logic, rationality, cajoling or coercion can move a client from the “story” to the “business” end of the divorce spectrum, particularly when the client feels overwhelmed by both the reality of divorce and the frustrating process of it. Before the client moves so far into the story such that therapy, medication and/or intervention become options, a family attorney might consider referring the client to a professional personal divorce coach – an emerging new professional in the divorce arena.
The "Coaching Zone"
Here are some signs that a client could be well-served by a trained divorce coach – what we call “The Coaching Zone”:
- They are locked into one option and refuse to consider other possible solutions.
- They refuse to examine any other perspective but their own.
- They are either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic about how things will turn out for them after divorce and such beliefs determine their approach to a settlement.
- They seek relief from their highly emotional state and are willing to pay any price for that relief – by either throwing in the towel or extracting several pounds of flesh from their spouse.
- They lose sight of what is best for the children, using them as pawns in the game instead of being a parent most concerned about their children’s welfare.
Where IS your client on the spectrum from Credible to Ready for Therapy Time? Are they in the Coaching Zone?
Coaching helps the client self-discover the impact of how they filter the information used in decision making. It also helps them explore other options or shift their perspective to consider other possible solutions. The American Bar Association defines divorce coaching 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.”
Divorce Coaches are trained to work with clients in even the most trying of circumstances, supporting them in their journey to be the best version of themselves possible, championing their strengths, and putting them back in touch with those values which support them in making the best decisions for their particular interests, needs and concerns.
Coaching produces transformation in a client’s thoughts and actions to produce a better client. This is what the client lawyers seek to champion - clients who both listen and speak effectively, communicate easily and clearly, accept the reality of the divorce process, ask relevant questions, possess clarity about their needs and interests, consider any and all options and solutions, and leave the “story” of divorce behind in order to take responsibility as a thinking partner with their lawyer in the divorce process.
Attorneys can take advantage of high-value training on how to effectively coach your clients in divorce by having someone trained to serve in that capacity. Or, hire one of the CDC Certified Divorce Coaches listed in the Find-A-Divorce Coach Directory at http://certifieddivorcecoach.com/find-a-divorce-coach-2/ .
Kurt Chacon is a CDC certified divorce coach in north Dallas and a collaborative divorce attorney. He is a member of Denton County Collaborative Professionals, Collaborative Divorce Texas, and can be reached at www.divorcedifferently.org and on Facebook at divorcedifferently.
Pegotty Cooper is the co-founder of CDC Certified Divorce Coach® Training and Certification and is the co-author of Divorce: Overcome the Overwhelm and Avoid the Six Biggest Mistakes in Divorce, available on Amazon. Contact Pegotty at www.certifieddivorcecoach.com.