Are Indiana “Divorce Coaches” Worth It?

There has been a lot of buzz recently about the increasing use of so-called “divorce coaches” in Indiana and throughout the country. twocandles.jpg

Our Highland divorce attorneys can most certainly understand the benefit of having someone to help you work through the emotional turmoil of a divorce, as well as help you organize and prepare your finances and other documents.

It must be noted, however, that most of these “coaches” are not lawyers, and a lawyer is the first person you need to meet with if you are thinking of filing for a divorce. This is because a divorce attorney will advise you on, legally, all the things you will need to consider. At the end of the day, divorce is a legal process, and you need to make sure your assets, child custody considerations and your other rights are protected.

Back in the 1990s, we began to see an increase of so-called “life coaches.” These are people who are not necessarily counselors, but they will advise you in areas of relationships and intimacy, hot to handle stress, planning your career, spiritual growth, healthy living, parenting, etc.

Divorce coaching, which didn’t really get a start until the early 2000s, is similar, except the focus is all geared toward the divorce process. In some cases, couples may even choose to work together with a divorce coach – though, again – you have to be careful with this because you don’t want to jeopardize yourself from a legal standpoint by working with your soon-to-be-ex outside the courtroom. Always consult with an attorney before you engage in such sessions.

In some cases, divorce coaches will offer “pre-legal advice.” Generally, this is advertised as a way to help people get organized before a divorce. They help you round up legal documents, tax papers, bank statements, etc. before you see a lawyer. This sounds like a good idea on the surface, but you have to be careful here for two reasons:

1. Your “coach,” not being entirely familiar with the intricate aspects of family law, as spelled out in the Indiana Code, may not know exactly what you need or what someone in your exact circumstances will face. This is what your attorney is for.

2. You don’t want to have to pay twice for the same thing. You know you are going to have to consult with a divorce attorney at some point anyway. Your attorney can be the one to tell you what documents are necessary, and which may be expendable.

The other service these individuals offer is sometimes referred to as “hand-holding.” This might actually be one positive service. We know that some amount of venting is normal. But we realize you may not want to pay an attorney for his or her time to listen, and friends and family may be either biased or can’t be the emotional rock you need right now. In these cases, having a neutral third party may be beneficial.

However, you should understand that these are not individuals who necessarily have a degree or certification in therapy or counseling. Their advice is not going to be made on the basis of any medical knowledge and they won’t be able to diagnose or treat you if you do fall into a depression or suffer other health-related issues. Those kind of issues are specifically for a therapist or counselor or your physician, and again, it comes down to whether you want to ultimately end up paying two people for the same service.

And finally, divorce coaches advertise helping you get organized. But again, your Indiana divorce attorney can usually better tell you what it is your going to need to be adequately prepared for your case.

The bottom line is that relying entirely on a “divorce coach” to help you get started may end up costing you more in the long-run.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
What can a Divorce Coach do for You? Sept. 26, 2012, By Geoff Williams, Reuters
More Blog Entries:
Protect Yourself From Abusive Spouse During Divorce, Sept. 15, 2012, Indiana Divorce Lawyer Blog