Divorce is hard.
It brings out the worst in people.
You might have heard the saying, "In criminal law, you have bad people at their best, but in a divorce, you have good people at their worst."
No matter what stage you're in, if you are representing yourself, I don't have to tell you how difficult a divorce is to manage.
Divorce is hard enough when you have an attorney, but it's even harder when you don't and have to represent yourself.
I describe the process of going through a contested divorce to clients like this:
"Divorce is a rollercoaster...you are going to have your share of ups and downs, so strap in. "
I've always said that if you can afford an attorney, you should get one. But, if you can't, get a divorce coach.
A coach is not a substitute for a good attorney, but it's the next best option.
Family and friends are an important part of your divorce team, but you need a professional to help guide you through the process, keep you level headed and help you understand what is happening during each stage.
If you don't have an attorney, odds are it's because you don't have the money to retain one. There are a lot of people like you out there. You're not alone!
But, any professional is going to cost money. Just because you can't afford a divorce attorney, doesn't mean you can't afford a divorce coach. Like getting an education, you have to approach your divorce as an investment in your future.
Because, we are talking about your future!
How is a coach different from an attorney?
A divorce coach does not directly represent you, which means they are not charging you for every letter, phone call, or court appearance that an attorney would be charging for.
If your coach is not an attorney (and most divorce coaches are not) then the type of advice they can give you is limited. As an attorney, I can give expert advice on how to navigate the process, how to behave in court and how to negotiate custody disputes.
I find that being an attorney and coach gives me a unique edge to helping people. I can provide guidance from an attorney's point of view. I can tell you what issues to focus on and how to approach your case from a legal perspective.
What Will A Divorce Coach Do For Me?
A divorce coach is exactly what it sounds like...a coach. They are there to guide you through the ups and downs of the divorce process. They are not there to "represent you" in court or in any other official capacity. In other words, the court won't even know you have a divorce coach.
A divorce coach is an integral part of your divorce team. Here are five reasons why you should consider one if you don't have an attorney.
1. You need someone to give you an unbiased, objective opinion
i can't emphasize enough the need to have a solid support network during a divorce. Family and friends are important, but they can only give you part of what you need. They are naturally biased...because they are your family and friends. A divorce coach, while they are on your team, is not there to be "yes" you to death. They are there to help you keep your eye on the prize and stay out of trouble.
2. You have a resource for when you need guidance and want to talk strategy
Unlike family and friends, a divorce coach will help you develop a plan for each stage of the process. If your coach is an attorney, he/she can help you with legal strategy, but the coach is there to provide you with guidance for the emotional decisions and how to respond to difficult spouses, etc.
3. A divorce coach is a professional who is on standby when you need questions answered quickly.
Like an attorney, a coach is a professional who is there when you need them. You may go for a period where you don't have many questions, but there will be periods during the divorce where you will have many questions. It's nice to know your divorce coach is there when you need him/her, as opposed to spending hours online searching for answers.
4. A coach is cheaper than hiring an attorney
There's a difference between retaining an attorney for $5,000+ and having to replenish that retainer when it runs out until your divorce is over, which can take more than one year and hiring a divorce coach to help guide you and answer questions as you represent yourself. Every coach has their own rates, but because they are not writing letters, making phone calls to other attorneys and going to court, the investment will be much less than an attorney.
5. Divorce is too difficult to go at it alone.
Do you really want to represent yourself without an attorney and a divorce coach? You might not think you need one, but most people get overwhelmed when it comes to the law and going to court. I don't blame them, it's overwhelming! Yes, a coach costs money, but so do most things in life. Nobody wants to get divorced, but if you have to go through the process, go through it with a proper support network so you come out the other side prepared to succeed and move on.
Jason Levoy, a/k/a The Divorce Resource Guy, is an attorney who coaches people without a lawyer how to get through the divorce process like a professional. If you have children, check out his FREE answers to the most asked questions about custody and divorce.