Why Attorneys Should Consider Referrals to a Certified Divorce Coach

By David Barry J.D., MSW, LSW, CDC®


  • Attorneys are busy people; matrimonial attorneys particularly so.  Their success depends upon, among other things, adding value, working cost-effectively and being a problem solver. Through collaboration with a Certified Divorce Coach, a matrimonial attorney can significantly enhance their ability to be that value-adding, cost effective problem solver for their clients.


  •  Clients come to matrimonial attorneys with a variety of needs, only some of which are legal in nature.  One of the ways a matrimonial attorney adds value to those clients is by having a wide variety of trusted “other professionals” to whom he/she refers clients for those non-legal problems.  These typically include CPAs, Physicians and Psychiatrists.  But to whom do you refer clients who are simply feeling “stuck” — e.g., they are having difficulty making critical decisions about their life in general and their divorce in particular?  To whom do you refer clients that need to “get organized” for divorce?  To whom do you refer clients to serve as a “thinking partner” – to help the client identify goals, options and craft strategies to move forward towards them?  These are some of the important functions that a Certified Divorce Coach serves.  One or more should be in your Rolodex of trusted professionals.


  • One of the biggest sources of dissatisfaction in the matrimonial attorney – client relationship is over legal fees.  This dissatisfaction all too often takes the form of fee complaints, fee arbitration and ethics complaints.  It often arises out of the simple fact that clients are not organized for divorce, do not know how to work cost-effectively with their attorney, and use the attorneys time for purposes that could be more cost-effectively (and often just plain more effectively) by an appropriate non-attorney.  By having a Certified Divorce Coach in their Rolodex to whom you can direct clients, you serve clients in several ways.  First, you have provided your clients with a more cost-effective professional specially trained to service their non-legal needs and concerns.  Secondly, by working with their Certified Divorce Coach, you have helped your clients feel like their non-legal issues have been “heard”.  Thirdly, working with a Certified Divorce Coach will have helped them become educated as to how to work more effectively and more cost-effectively with you, their attorney.


  • Bottom line:  A Certified Divorce Coach is a qualified, ready resource that enables your clients to feel heard; to get organized to work more effectively with you and thereby enable you to focus more fully on the important legal aspects of their case. This is a resource you need to know more about.


Additional Points for Mediators:


  • Mediation requires the willingness and ability of two parties to work together.


  •  What do you do when only one party is willing to mediate or when mediation is otherwise inappropriate?  Does it require the client to choose between litigation or remaining “stuck” where they are?  Consider a referral to a Certified Divorce Coach.  A Certified Divorce Coach is trained to listen to the individual client, help them identify their goals and strategies to reach those goals.  These potentially include identifying actions that might result in the parties returning to mediation, or identifying issues or aspects of issues that the parties might be willing to mediate.


About the Author:

David J. Barry

David J. Barry, JD, MSW, LSW, CDC is a central New Jersey Attorney (Visit his websites: www.bownebarrylaw.com and www.lawyer4therapists.com)

Certified Divorce Mediator and Divorce Coach (www.smarterdivorce.com)

Licensed Social Worker and Social Work Educator

Adjunct Professor, Rutgers University School of Social Work