Divorce can be broken down into three areas: legal, financial, and emotional. You should have trusted advisors specializing in their particular fields, thereby creating your professional support team. It’s best not to have your attorney advising you on financial planning, or your CFP providing you with emotional support. Collectively your divorce support team will be responsible for assisting you in every facet of your divorce, therefore selecting the right people is paramount to your success.
Legal Divorce Support Team
Being comfortable with your attorney is equally as important as his or her aptitude. The divorce process is stressful enough without doubting that your lawyer has your best interests at heart or feeling that you are not being heard. You need to know that your attorney is responsive to your needs, and you need to be realistic about the role an attorney plays in your divorce. He or she is not a therapist and should not be your go-to person for your emotional struggles. The financial cost of dumping your emotional burdens on your lawyer will be steep. Make sure to focus only on the legalities of your divorce when you are with your attorney, and save your need for emotional support for someone more skilled (and significantly less expensive) in that area.
Financial Divorce Support
If possible it is a great idea to have a CPA or CFA specializing in divorce, they are better equipped to help you figure out your financial landscape: what your financial picture currently looks like; what information you need to gather; what steps you need to take to guard yourself, and will assist you in developing a plan that protects you and your children’s financial well-being in both the short term and long term.
Emotional Divorce Support
Many people overlook the impact of the remaining aspect of divorce, emotion, and the importance of having professional support in the same way you would in the legal and financial phases. After all, you wouldn’t represent yourself in court or assign the standard deviation of a particular investment’s risk tolerance, would you? Both divorce coaches and therapists can assist you with your emotional turmoil, but which one is right for you?
Divorce therapy helps you understand how your broken marriage is connected to your past, what emotional baggage you brought to the marriage, and how to begin healing the pain. Many find this a critical part of understanding and moving through their grief.
Divorce coaching also touches on your past and your pain. However, the focus is more strategic, helping you gain clarity about your current situation, overcoming fears and obstacles that are keeping you stuck, and developing a plan for moving through the myriad of decisions involved in the divorce process. Ultimately a divorce coach helps you to strategically navigate your way through the roadblocks of divorce and to begin to discover your passions and dreams, enabling you to create a new and fulfilling life.
Support from Friends and Family
On a more personal level, you need to create a healthy support team of friends and family. Not everyone who loves you should necessarily make it onto your team. It is important that you have emotionally healthy people who are not bringing their own emotional load onto your boat (and inadvertently rocking it all the more). Your family members love you and mean well but each has their own thoughts and opinions about what you are doing or going through. If they are positive and supportive, then you are in luck, sign them onto your team. But if they increase your angst, you need to turn elsewhere for support.
Important considerations before adding a friend or family member to your divorce support team:
- Who keeps the focus on you and your needs and who bashes the soon-to-be ex? Which is more helpful in the long run?
- Who focuses on the positive steps that you can take, the solution to your current circumstance and who dwells on the problem and creates negative energy? If the conversation is more about your spouse, about blaming or criticizing him or her, ask yourself how they are serving you and helping you meet your needs. They might not be the best person to go to for support.
Divorce Support Groups
If you don’t have any friends or family who can be your divorce support team, it is particularly important that you find a divorce support group, which will prove to be invaluable to you in the long run. A divorce support group provides you a safe place where you can converse with others going through similar situations. However, some people experience difficulty opening up about something so personal with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting. If you are uncomfortable at the prospect of this, we invite you to join our private, online support community. Ask questions and receive answers, vent and decompress with people that can understand and relate, plus receive personalized advice from certified IPEC and ICF divorce coaches. With the proper support in place, you can emerge from divorce a renewed and empowered person.
In 2010, IPEC and ICF certified divorce coach Karen McMahon founded Journey Beyond Divorce to offers separation, divorce, and relationship coaching services. www.jbddivorcesupport.com