By Colleen Honquest
Many people use divorce coaches to minimize talking to their lawyers. It’s a chance to vent about what a jerk your ex is to a professional who isn’t going to bill you as much.
Some people use their divorce coaches to take lawyers almost completely out of the equation. Divorce Coaches often have lived experience of their own with divorce. Their personal experience can be invaluable when it comes to structuring a Joint Parenting Agreement or when understanding the importance of the need for clarity and detailed information required in your Marital Settlement Agreement. Mostly, though, divorce coaches are used in conjunction with attorneys.
“I love them, and if I had my way, I’d never work without them,” says Brigitte Bell, a Chicago divorce attorney. “They help manage the clients and support them by bringing a different set of skills to the divorce process than we do.”
Randall Cooper, co-founder of CDC College for Divorce Coaching in Tampa, Florida, which provides training and certification to divorce coaches, says the average cost of a divorce coach is $100 to $150 per hour, versus $300-$500 per hour for an attorney. The cost of either often depends on geography.
A Divorce Coach in San Diego, charges $150 for a 90-minute coaching session and $385 for a 2.5-hour session. Someone with a really complicated divorce may spend as much as $750 for a five-hour session.
Just don’t mistake a divorce coach’s advice for legal advice. “It’s not,” says Cooper. “That’s the realm of the attorney.”
Hand-holding by a Divorce Coach
While some people lean on friends and family for support, that can come with its own emotional baggage. Many divorced individuals, says Dave Hilton, a Dallas-based financial conflict coach, have “family members pushing them extremely hard to take their ex for all they are worth or hurt them in another way.”
Cooper says his job is to be his client’s “thinking partner.” Divorce is a long process, and the coach goes along for the ride – not as legal counsel or therapist, but as a guide. “It’s all about creating a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental and patient environment,” says Cooper. Often in a divorce, individuals tend to isolate and think catastrophically because of all of the stress that they are experiencing. A Divorce Coach can help you base your decisions on fact instead of fear.
And the objectivity of a paid coach can be useful, says Beth Ashby, 46, a former nurse in West Lafayette, Indiana, who is getting her divorce coach certificate from CDC. “A divorce coach can really help someone define and refine their goals and let you pare down and peel the onion layers and get to what really matters,” she says.
You may have your emotions in order but not your paperwork, so there are free and low-cost services available, such as legal aid societies and software programs like DivorceWriter.com and RocketLawyer.com. But if that’s still too difficult, a coach is one level up in help (and cost).
Chris Furney, a project manager at a consumer products company in Atlanta, and his wife Anna ended their marriage in 2010 using Divorce Innovations, which specializes in divorce without lawyers. Two coaches helped the couple with everything from navigating their taxes to working out child-support issues, which was very helpful, says Furney, who admits to not initially understanding the nuts and bolts of the process.
Furney says he spent about $3,000 on his attorneys and $7,000 at Divorce Innovations, which shows that divorce coach costs can add up. But he estimates he might have spent three times that if he had only gone with lawyers, and would have lost plenty from the financial mistakes he would have made on his own. Using a Divorce Coach can save you an average of 10-20 hours of time per month (at approximately $300-$500/hour) that you may have had to spend with a lawyer. This alone could save you over $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
Colleen Honquest, Divorce Mediator and Certified Divorce Coach
Founder, DivorceMD, LLC.
Source: Williams, Geoff. “YOUR MONEY-What Can a Divorce Coach Do for You?” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 19 Sept. 2012. Web. 05 Jan. 2016.