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Coaching Divorce Couples
One of the most fundamental issues in America today is divorce. With exponentially rising divorce statistics this culture has become known as the culture of divorce. (Riley, 1991) With these changes in the social fiber of our culture come many problems and concerns for individuals, both the children of divorced couples and the individual partners themselves, as well as their extended families. Divorce is an often avoided subject of research simply because so many people are afraid of the changes that divorce has had and will continue to have on the fiber of our society.
The challenge is then to develop useful and structured plans for easing divorce's impact upon the individuals who comprise that society. Divorce can not be avoided, as either a social concept in need of expert research or as a real social phenomena that is the end of nearly half of all marriages.
Divorce may well have become a standard that without special consideration will erode the culture to such a degree that America will not seem to be the same place it was even 50 years ago. One of the most foundational realities of divorce is that it leaves all concerned with normal feelings of loss and anger. Because of the heightened feelings associated with divorce do-it-yourself divorces are often out of the question, even for people who need the cost cutting the most.
It is for this reason that coaching divorced couples through the difficult process of separation is a fundamental counseling question. This work will attempt to outline the opportunities and plans that are currently available to divorced couples for dealing with the stressors of emotional, financial and social separation and additionally will address issues of shared parenting techniques that have been tried and tested within the coaching field.
During divorce, parenting differences are exaggerated and the willingness to concede evaporates...Mediation and divorce coaching are both cooperative processes that help ensure that the underlying issues in a divorce are dealt with. (Wiere & Gregson "Mediation and Divorce Coaching." 2004)
Prior to divorce many couples choose to attempt reconciliation through couples counseling. Yet, the dynamic of divorce counseling are far different. The situation has now dissolved and the relationship between the two married adults is no longer the objective of counseling.
Divorce coaching is the process of attempting to help individuals deal with their personal psychological difficulties as well as learning to work together to solve post divorce issues, not the least of which is the shared parenting of minor children. Much of the research regarding the difficulties of divorce situations is dated. The dynamics of divorce have changed as the legal and social systems that deal with the subject of divorce have altered their strategies to better meet the needs of the masses of individuals dealing with legal separation.
The mediation process and divorce coaching are two effective ways in which family conflicts and problems can be handled and still create the new future that divorcing families are looking for. Unlike litigated divorce, mediation and divorce coaching processes get to the underlying problem and so are more effective in meeting the needs of the parents and their children as they move from one house to the other. (Wiere & Gregson "Mediation and Divorce Coaching." 2004)
Through a historical analysis of divorce over the centuries it is made clear that the rights of women in divorce were severely impaired if not non-existent on the issues most foundational to divorce. Through the years these things have changed, some would say to an extreme. An overall attempt has been made to individualize situations rather than try to make them fit into the standard mold of the 1960s 70s and 80s, when the children almost invariably went to the woman and the assets that would help in the raising of children went with them or the archaic attitude assessing all assets and decision to the only recognized legal entity, the man.
During the late twentieth century, they proposed and implemented such reforms as no-fault divorce. They have also tried to remedy such problems as awarding of alimony, division of property, custody of children, child support, and post-divorce education and services.
(Riley, 1991, p. 190)
Though many people would still say that this is the norm and that the structure in place in our society are developed to maintain the status quo.
This can be clearly demonstrated by statistics. The ways in which couples can avoid this and have a great deal more to say about what and who gets what and how the future will look for their children is through cooperation and collaboration.
More and more the legal system, e.g. Judges, is forced to make foundational decisions about the welfare of children, their living arraignments and in many ways their future simply because individuals are embroiled in bitter and irreconcilable differences about how they think things should be dealt with in this worst case scenario that has become their family.
This situation has forced the legal system to get more and more personal with the facts, in the open arena of court. For the divorcing couple the best way to avoid this is to reach conciliation though mediated divorces and post divorce coaching. In fact some states now require post divorce, shared parenting and assets coaching before a divorce will be granted by a jurisdiction.
It is important for a family going through a divorce to design a parenting plan to insure a focused family environment. A well designed plan lessens disagreements, decreases conflict, and helps the entire family understand and accept the future. (DivorceSource.Com, 2004, "Children & Divorce: Parenting Plans")
Challenges for divorcing couples and their children are often compounded by the fundamental differences that were present before the divorce became eminent. The challenges are heightened by the intensity of the feelings that the parents have with regards to each other and the relationship.
A parenting plan decreases conflict between ex-spouses, and increases the chances that the children will grow up in a stable environment. It also encourages the parents to work together amicably. Most divorced parents come to realize that with a little consistency comes a future of predictability. (DivorceSource.Com, 2004, "Children & Divorce: Parenting Plans")
DivorceSource.com has some very helpful stratagem for creating and implementing parenting plans.
When creating a parenting plan it is important that the parents stick to the schedule, no matter how difficult it may be for either parent. This will give the child some sense of trust.
The younger the children are, the better it is for the schedule be predictable. Parents must be aware that they need to work together in order to create a harmonious environment.
It is important for the parents to take into consideration the age of the children when designing the plan.
A parent must be aware of the other parent's schedule and work out a realistic plan that can be followed by both of them. This will keep conflicts to a minimum. (DivorceSource.Com, 2004, "Children & Divorce: Parenting Plans")
Challenges can be minimized, but is also important to make sure that the agreement is well documented and meets all the local legal requirements for post divorce and even pre-divorce standards for the court.
Divorce coaching is an even more specialized and distinctive field than those mentioned before. It is looked upon by many couples and professionals as an alternative to therapy.
Wendy Gregson and Tom Archbald, Marriage and Family Therapists, who are also Divorce Coaches, say there are divorces in which coaching, rather than therapy, is the best solution. ("Divorce Coaches Help Couples Through Emotional Process: June 28, 2001" The Coalition for Collaborative Divorce. 2001)
In fact the solution is looked upon by many as the best possible alternative to many other structured attempts to reconcile future relationships for divorced couples. Mentioning the volatility of divorce situations as the reason for the need for special care with regard to dealing with this precarious situation:
According to Gregson, "There have been some situations where, because there's so much rage on the part of the divorcing parties, it is impossible to keep the situation under control using therapy." ("Divorce Coaches Help Couples Through Emotional Process: June 28, 2001" The Coalition for Collaborative Divorce. 2001)
It seems that divorce coaching is the most effective because it reduces the volatility of the therapy situation by separating all parties to reach conclusions prior to collective meetings.
Divorce Coaching works because each Coach meets with his or her client separately until they understand that client's needs and wants. Both clients must give the coaches permission to discuss the case together in preparation for joint meetings. ("Divorce Coaches Help Couples Through Emotional Process: June 28, 2001" The Coalition for Collaborative Divorce. 2001)
Though divorce coaching can be thought of as a legal situation, coaches often are attorneys rather than councilors and have a valued legal perspective in the process of divorce, divorce coaching lays a plan of action that can be followed by all parties and can…[continue]
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