The pandemic is thought to have influenced the big jump in divorce applications over the past few years: applications over the past two years have reached their highest number in over a decade. But with our family courts’ new, overt agenda of steering potential litigants into dispute resolution, many of these divorcing couples will turn to dispute resolution processes to resolve their family law disputes. And along with an increase in mediation specialists available to separating couples, more new divorce industries have emerged to help people through the divorce process, like divorce coaches and other counsellors who deal with unique facets of divorce.
Here are some of the new types of services designed specifically to help people when they are divorcing.
You may have already heard of divorce coaches, who have come onto the radar in recent years. A kind of specialist life coach, divorce coaches guide people through separation or divorce, helping them focus on the range of practical and psychological challenges ahead. Almost like a project manager for your divorce, a divorce coach will ensure all aspects are covered and dealt with, in a holistic service that recognises that divorce is a total life challenge. Ultimately, a divorce coach can help you reframe your divorce as a springboard to a better life.
In the US, some divorce coaches are now going by the moniker “divorce doulas”, a catchy name with positive connotations. Doulas, in the birthing context, are associated with wellness, empowerment, the sisterhood, and of course, giving birth. So a divorce coach marketing themselves as a divorce doula could really appeal to women who want to take control of their divorce, feel empowered during the journey, and maybe even experience a kind of re-birth.
Like divorce coaches, divorce doulas help clients with the tools and resources for handling the legal and administrative aspects of divorce. But, consistent with the nurturing connotations of doulas, these coaches also help with the more spiritual and emotional side of things. So they may help with managing trauma, processing grief, creating healthy boundaries, and being a present, authentic parent.
Another emerging field in divorce services is something called discernment counselling. The brainchild of an American expert in counselling, Dr Bill Doherty, it’s a new off-shoot of couples counselling, and it’s being widely embraced by Australian therapists as well.
When you think of couples counselling, marriage counselling probably comes to mind. And marriage counselling is one type of couples counselling in which couples work together to save or improve their marriage. But traditional marriage counselling doesn’t work well if one partner is ambivalent about even staying in the marriage.
That’s where discernment counselling comes in. It’s especially well suited for “mixed agenda couples” – where one of you is thinking of divorce and the other wants to stay married.
“Discernment” means the ability to judge well, and discernment counselling aims to help couples make a well-judged decision on whether or not they should divorce or try to save the marriage.
It isn’t about helping couples fix their marriage; rather, it helps couples work out whether their marriage should be saved or not, if divorce is potentially on the cards. It’s a way to understand what has happened to the marriage, the role you each played in getting things to this point, and to evaluate the potential of the marriage being saved.
It’s a brief therapeutic intervention—one to five sessions only – and it involves both separate conversations with each partner and combined sessions. At the end of the counselling, couples have gained clarity on what should happen next, and decide whether to stay and work on the marriage, separate, or commit to a short (e.g. six month) period of marital counselling.
If you are divorcing…
If you’re considering divorce, rather than turn to the internet, self-help books or the well-meaning advice of divorced friends or family – it’s important to know you have options for professional services that can help guide you through this difficult time in your life. Divorce is a hard road to walk all on your own, so having good support systems in place, and utilising professional divorce services can help make your divorce less traumatic and ensure it’s life-changing in a positive way.
Due to the multi-faceted nature of a divorce (with emotional, financial, legal, practical and administrative aspects), assembling a range of specialised professionals as your “divorce team” is always a great idea. And if you’ve decided to divorce, you might consider a collaborative one. With a collaborative divorce, several professionals can be brought together to help you through the process, with everyone working in your best interests. At Alliance Family Law, we specialise in collaborative divorce, so give us a call to chat about whether it might suit your situation.
For family law advice, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.