The collaborative coach is typically a trained therapist who functions in a specific, limited capacity during the collaborative divorce process.
Joyce Tessier explains: “The coach’s role is to focus them on what it is they need to do to come to agreement, so that over time it ultimately ends up in an agreement that turns into a court order.”
She describes how she might counsel a client in her role as a coach: “What is it that you hope for as an outcome, in terms of post-divorce life? this is going to be a small segment of your life, this divorce process. What’s it going to look like afterward?” So, you begin right away to focus them on the future. So they get a vision, and sort of a mission about where they want to go.
And as Tessier points out, the freedom of the parties to make their own decisions is always paramount: In collaborative or mediated divorces, the decision-making is in the couple, not the professionals. We guide, we help them sort things out, we may offer alternatives, or we may brainstorm about all the ways to come to a decision about whatever they’re grappling with at the moment.
But ultimately, it’s their decision, whereas in litigation with a court trial, or a court-litigated divorce, you go in with a certain set of facts, and then there’s the law that guides the judge in making a court order. And he’s not going to know your name when you leave the courtroom, because he’s got sixty-three cases on the calendar today.