I’ve hired my divorce attorney. Who else, if anyone, should be on my “divorce team”?

Many divorces will go from start to finish with only divorce attorneys involved. Other cases benefit from the expertise of other professionals. From our perspective, there’s no right answer for every divorce. The right “divorce team” depends on your needs and situation.

This post will explore the various clinical professionals who can assist you with the child-related, emotional and interpersonal issues that can arise in a divorce, as well as the benefits of working with professional coaches.

Clinical Professionals

Parenting Coordinator

  • What can they do for me?
    • A parenting coordinator is a neutral professional who assists divorcing parents with parenting challenges that may arise in a divorce process. These may include coming up with a parenting schedule, handling shared holidays, and navigating tough parenting decisions, whether during or after your divorce. Also, as children’s needs and your situation change over time, parenting coordinators can help you maintain a fluid relationship as co-parents.
  • How do I know if I need one?
    • If you find that you and your ex are getting stuck around issues related to your kids, a parenting coordinator may be a fit for you. Oftentimes, the parenting issues that come up in a divorce are not strictly legal, and you thus don’t need an attorney or attorney-mediator to assist you with them. A parenting coordinator can offer that assistance from a neutral perspective, typically for a lower cost.
    • Note, however, that you do need to feel comfortable in the same room as your spouse. Check out our article on the different divorce processes, in particular the sections on Proximity and Power, to read a bit more about whether working with a neutral, like a parenting coordinator, is for you.

Child Therapist

  • What can they do for me? 
    • Child therapists can assist in your divorce process in a variety of ways. For parents, a child therapist can provide guidance as to whether a particular schedule or other child-related decision is optimal for your child’s development and well-being.  For a child, a child therapist can assist in processing the different feelings that may come up throughout the divorce process, and/or working in a more targeted way on particular behavioral issues.
  • How do I know if I need one?
    • If you notice that your child is struggling in any way during the divorce process, or if you and/or your ex have questions or concerns related to your child, a consultation with a child therapist may be in order.

Individual Therapist

  • What can they do for me? 
    • While not technically part of a “divorce team,” an individual therapist can play a very valuable role in your divorce. Every divorce, even the most amicable, is an emotionally challenging, and sometimes confusing, process. It helps to have someone to provide emotional support and an objective perspective on the issues that come up in your case. While family and friends can be a good source of support, there may be issues you are not comfortable sharing openly with them, and the feedback they give you may be biased in your favor in a way that’s ultimately not helpful to you. That’s where an individual therapist comes in, to provide both support and realistic feedback, and to keep you moving forward in your divorce in a healthy way.
  • How do I know if I need one? 
    • It’s normal to feel upset, angry and overwhelmed during your divorce. If you’re finding that those feelings are making it hard for you to function, or to participate in your divorce in an effective way, try out a few sessions with an individual therapist, and see if you find it helpful.

In addition, the relationship with your divorce lawyer is a unique one, in that it will broach legal, financial and emotional issues, as they come up. In the best of cases, your lawyer should feel like a trusted advisor and counselor, with whom you can raise any issue of concern. However, if you find that your lawyer is the sole or primary person with whom you’re processing emotions related to your divorce, you may be better served to form a relationship with an individual therapist. They are clinically trained to address the emotional and psychological components of divorce, and they are usually significantly less expensive than your lawyer.

Professional Coaches

Divorce Coach

  • What can they do for me?
    • A divorce coach can assist you in several ways. Like a therapist, a divorce coach can provide you with emotional support and pragmatic guidance as you go through your divorce. However, given that a coach’s work is focused specifically on divorce (and many divorce coaches have been through divorces themselves), they tend to have a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the divorce process and what to expect on a practical level every step of the way.
    • A divorce coach can also act as a liaison between you and your divorce attorney (and the rest of your divorce team), assisting you with tasks like organizing financial documents, and streamlining your questions and concerns to ensure that your needs are being met.
  • How do I know if I need one?
    • If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, or like your needs aren’t being met fully by your lawyer or therapist, or if you would like a sounding board with experience in divorce but without the hourly rate of your lawyer, you might be served by working with a divorce coach.
    • If you’re not sure, you can ask your lawyer or therapist if they think you might benefit from the assistance of a coach.

Career/Business Coach

  • What can they do for me?
    • Career or business coaches are not specific to a divorce process, but they can be useful in helping you make a professional change, such as returning to the workforce after years of caring for children, or transitioning to a different field or a role within your current field. Whatever the change, a career or business coach give you guidance regarding targeting appropriate job opportunities, networking, resume building, interviewing, and more.
  • How do I know if I need one?
    • If you anticipate making any professional change in the future, and could use assistance in doing so, a career or business coach can be helpful.

If you have any questions or doubts about whether or not you need additional members of your “team,” you should speak with your attorney, who should be well-equipped to advise you whether additional professional support is needed.  More is not always better if you end up receiving advice that may conflict or confuse.   There is such a thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen” in your divorce case.  Above all, you want your team to be coordinated and work well together.