How a divorce coach can support family solicitors

How a divorce coach can support and add value to the work of family solicitors……..

For 10 years now, I have been working exclusively with clients going through painful separations. My work is referred by family solicitors. Their feedback confirms my belief that my role supports and complements their legal work.

‘I want to help my clients and hugely empathise with what they are going through. However, my role is to give legal advice and guide clients through the legal process. A coach who can help clients deal with the emotional fall out, enables them to better focus on the practicalities, give clearer instructions and make better decisions. It’s a team-based approach all intended to help a client though what is a really difficult process’ (Rachel Roberts; Stowe Family Law)

I would describe the role of the Divorce Coach as:

(i)- Providing emotional support to clients so they can divorce well and recover as quickly as possible.

Initially, people are bewildered and find it difficult to make sense of what is happening. They have lost all their bearings, so they find it impossible to make decisions.

‘When I think of the clients I have referred for divorce coaching, the overwhelming theme is that they just cannot make sense of what has happened to them, and is still happening, whether they have instigated a separation or had one imposed on them. They often have no point of reference to know that they will get through that period of their lives in time and therefore feel that an unhealthy past is better than an uncertain future’ (Lyn Ayrton; Lake Legal)

I equip clients with coping mechanisms, especially when it comes to dealing with conflict. Importantly, I ensure that they gain some perspective on their relationship and I help normalise their situation:

‘You push their perceptions of the relationship so that they see it for what it really was. By doing so they learn that the relationship wasn’t healthy, they learn to find their own voice again, often learn to like themselves again and realise that being single again isn’t actually the end of their world’ (Lyn Ayrton)

(ii)- Helping clients clarify their thoughts and decide on a course of action

Clients are in a state of confusion. Yet, they need clarity to make difficult decisions. This is especially crucial for clients who are not sure whether to stay together or separate. It is such a huge decision, that they keep changing their mind.

Many clients instruct me when they have yet to decide finally if their marriage is at an end and they are struggling to make a final decision. (The coach) helps clients clarify their thoughts and decide on the best way forward. This is invaluable. It is a skill set that falls well outside of my own and those of other family lawyers (Michaela Heathcote; Taylor & Emmet)

A substantial purpose of my work is to help clients get clarity so they can give clear instructions to their solicitor.

Coaching

Coaching is both simple and powerful. It is not ‘one-size-fits-all’, nor is it about applying prescribed techniques. A skilled coach creates unique, close, trusting and supportive relationships with clients, asking incisive questions and not being afraid to challenge.

‘Your work is not just about listening and supporting. It is about asking the right questions which change everything. Our first session blew me over’. Client

To guarantee quality, please ensure that the coach can demonstrate a strong practice, credibility and integrity; that they are fully qualified, accredited, insured and members of a respected coaching professional body.

How coaching supports your work?

(By providing) ‘a metaphoric protective shield’; (by helping) ‘to process information calmly so that clients don’t have kneejerk reactions nor provide me with haphazard instructions which regularly change; by giving clients the confidence to hold out for what they need and are entitled to’ (Carol Jessop; Harrogate Family Law).

Working with a coach normally means a less drawn out and painful divorce process, which in turn will reduce clients’ legal fees because they are able to give clear instructions.

I am not trained to provide the emotional support they need and nor is it cost effective for them to use me for that purpose (Carol Jessop)

Michaela Evans goes further by seeing the coach as the missing part of the legal offering:

‘Looking back at the many years I had in practice prior to referring (to a Divorce Coach), I realise now that there was a significant gap in the service that I was offering to my clients. The coach fills that gap’.

I am in no doubt, based on my own extensive experience and feedback from clients and lawyers alike, that the involvement of a good divorce coach in the fraught process of divorce can be beneficial for all concerned. If you are not a convert, why not try it?

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