By Karen Ela Kenny
Very often a client will ask their attorney, “Why do we need a Coach? Won’t that just be an added expense that we don’t really need?” These are valid questions and here are some helpful responses.
The Coach will meet with the parties together and individually before a Participation Agreement is signed which helps in determining which cases might not be suitable for the Collaborative Process. And for those cases that move forward, there is much better preparation for using the Collaborative Process effectively and efficiently.
Once the Participation Agreement is signed and the settlement talks begin, the Coach functions as a Facilitator. This helps the attorneys stay focused on their legal tasks while the Coach/Facilitator keeps the waters calm, encourage respectful communication and redirect conversations that become heated as this will generally waste time with non-productive (and financially expensive!) energy. Coach/Facilitators also have skill sets to help with impasse that often starts folks down the ‘positional’ path.
As a Facilitator, the Coach also helps the Collaborative Process stay on track outside of the meetings (i.e., making sure the pre-briefs and settlement meetings are scheduled, agendas are set, minutes get out, and just generally overseeing that the process does not get ‘stuck’ but keeps moving forward).
If there are minor children, the Coach will meet with the co-parents outside of the settlement meetings to craft the Parenting Plan. Not only does this help financial savings, but the Coach is trained in child development and the needs of children during this time of transition. The Coach is also available post-divorce for any co-parenting concerns that may occur.
Attorneys who have conceded to their client’s desire to “save money” by not having a Coach/Facilitator often learn by experience how valuable the above reasons are for ensuring a smoother process. A professional team that works well together provides better results for the goals of the couple in re-structuring their lives financially and emotionally.
Karen Ela Kenny, MSW, LICSW is a Collaborative Divorce Coach and Facilitator. She has helped dozens of couples in NH and MA achieve a Collaborative Divorce since 2010. She also has a private practice where she has seen couples, families, and individuals since 1982. It is this very work that has inspired her to become involved in helping couples divorce in a healthier way.