The Role of the Coach and Career Counselor in Collaborative Divorce

Considering a collaborative divorce and curious about the role of the divorce coach? And how exactly can a career counselor help?

Coaches have mental health backgrounds. They are counselors, social workers and psychologists trained in the collaborative divorce process. Initially your coach will meet with you one on one to help you define goals for the collaborative process. They are interested in understanding your special needs and any issue that could create a logjam at the legal level. They help keep you on track with the collaborative divorce process and coordinate with your attorney and the rest of the team.

Your coach creates a safe place to sort through feelings you have about your divorce and provides supportive counseling. They work with you to identify ways to improve communication with your spouse, solve problems, articulate your needs and wants and resolve conflicts. In short, they help you achieve the goals you define for your divorce process and on-going relationships with your children and former spouse.

In addition, some coaches offer help with reentering or enhancing involvement with the workplace. Career counseling can provide the team with information regarding career plan timing, vocational activities and potential earnings. This can help facilitate the couple’s financial, custody and support decisions.

With the vocational counselor’s guidance, clients become more aware of interests and values that support an emerging and stronger sense of self. The experience of self-exploration, decision-making, follow through and success all confirm that you have the power to reshape your life after the major disruption and loss of divorce. The process can help you take charge of your life and empower you to reach decisions about a future that is yours alone.

Source Reviewed: Collaborative Review, Spring 2008/ Vocational Counseling Helps Clients with Work, Collaborative Process and Life by Betty Kohlenberg, MS, CRC, D/ABVE

By Gail Jean Nicholson, MA, LPC



Posted in Collaborative Divorce, Collaborative Law, Special Guest Post | 3 Comments

Top 8 Benefits of Collaborative Divorce vs. Traditional Divorce.

Are you considering a collaborative divorce vs. a traditional divorce? You are not alone. While it is a process of election, and you cannot force your spouse into the process (that wouldn’t be very collaborative, would it?) there are some good reasons to use the collaborative divorce process if your spouse is willing, and your family is a good fit for the process. The following 8 advantages are our non-exclusive list of the benefits of collaborative divorce.

  1. The process is generally less costly than litigation. A cooperative resolution is usually less expensive than a contested one.
  2. The process is generally less time-consuming. The collaborative case can frequently be completed within 4-6 meetings vs. up to a year for a contested case.
  3. An atmosphere of cooperation reduces the stress that accompanies traditional divorce. A common set of rules govern how spouses, lawyers, and participants interact, minimizing the abrasive conduct present in  many traditional cases.
  4. Each party has the assistance of counsel. Collaborative Divorce comes with the benefit of expert attorney assistance without the hostile atmosphere of litigation.
  5. Each party is a vital part of the settlement team. Both sides are treated as critical parts of the settlement team, and not adversaries.
  6. The team can focus on settlement without the imminent threat of “going to court.” The parties sign a participation agreement that says these parties and these lawyers will not take this matter to litigation. This eliminates tactical bargaining backed by threats of litigation.
  7. The client controls the proceedings. Rather than have a Judge in a robe decide a family’s parenting and financial future, the parties themselves work out an agreement. The decision making power stays with the participants.
  8. The collaborative process focuses on interest-based bargaining. In a collaborative case, parties focus on the underlying concerns, needs, and interests of the parties. Traditional cases usually involve position based bargaining, where each side commits to a position early in litigation and only thinks of their own wants and needs.

The lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP have training in collaborative divorce law, and can help through you through the collaborative process, and help you decide if the collaborative process is right for you.











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Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – Special Issue on Collaborative Practice

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has focussed the April 2011 volume of Family Court Review on collaborative practice.  The articles include insight into the History and Development of Collaborative Practice by Stu Webb and Ron Ousky; Collaborative Practice in Canada; Expanding Collaborative Divorce Through the Social Sciences by Mark Otis; the Growth of Collaborative Practice by Pauline Tessler; and, among other topics, the future of collaborative practice by Forrest Mosten.

It is exciting to see such an important journal make collaborative practice a feature.  This is a clear indication of the growth of the collaborative process into the mainstream. 

Daniel Margolin and C. Sean Stephens are both trained in the collaborative process and utilize it for both divorce matters and prenuptial agreement drafting.  They are happy to inform potential clients on the benefits of the collaborative process.

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Book Recommendation: Collaborative Divorce by Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thompson

Interested in the collaborative process but don’t know where to start? Interested but not quite ready to talk to a collaborative trained lawyer? This book by Paulie Tesler and Peggy Thompson, Collaborative Divorce, , The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move on with Your Life, was written specifically for divorcing couples and explains how to navigate through your divorce successfully using an interdisciplinary collaborative divorce team. In collaborative divorce, a professional team (a lawyer for each spouse, a divorce coach for each spouse, a neutral financial consultant, and a neutral child specialist) helps couples focus on their highest shared hopes and intentions, and to find areas of agreement as the basis for dealing with more challenging issues.

This is a well written book, and one that we give out during collaborative divorce consultations.  Our experience has been that sharing Tessler’s book with your spouse can turn what would have been a traditional litigated divorce case into a collaborative one.


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Popularity of Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law is gaining in popularity with the general public. A sign of this is that Avery Brewing released a beer that honors the Collaborative process.
More information can be learned here:

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