Most people, if asked who they would reach out to first if facing divorce, would probably say ‘a lawyer’.
That’s the first thing that came to mind when my marriage was ending several years ago, when I was scared, overwhelmed, and felt like my world had turned upside down. As a stay-at-home mom of two children on the autism spectrum, I felt like I had to protect myself and my kids, look out for our interests, and make sure my kids and I would have what we needed in the short and long term. And of course, I had to deal with the whirlwind of emotions and how my kids and I were going to get through the upheaval in our lives.
So I searched for attorneys that could effectively advocate on my behalf, so the divorce which I didn’t see coming would not wreak havoc on our day-to-day and future life. I eventually did get a great result for me and my kids, but it took A LOT of time, money, and effort to get there.
But it didn’t have to be that way. I decided that other families with kids with complex needs should not have to go through the stress, uncertainty, and expense that I experienced to also get a good result for their family.
So that’s when I decided to become a Special Needs Divorce Coach, and started Special Family Transitions, to help families through the overwhelm and complexities of divorce, when a child with a disability is in the picture.
I wish I had known about divorce coaches when I was going through divorce. I would have spent way less on attorney fees, and would have felt more in control of the whole process and what was happening in my world.
So what is a Divorce Coach, and why would someone want to work with one?
A Divorce Coach can help you look at your situation from a more rational, goal-oriented approach, rather than the emotional place from where actions and decisions are often made when faced with divorce. Divorce coaches can help connect you with resources, information, and approaches to more effectively and strategically consider things and make decisions that will affect you and your kids for a long time. And they can be someone you can share your frustrations with, instead of your attorney, whose time and expertise is best used to work on legal matters. Divorce coaches can work with you to be more prepared, focused, and confident for discussions with your attorney, your soon-to-be-ex, and even your kids.
In a divorce involving a child with a disability, it is important to work with professionals who have experience with special needs divorce considerations and issues. This is especially important when selecting an attorney, financial planner, and mental health professional, but also when hiring a divorce coach. These divorces are very complex, and it takes a village of professionals and a support system with an understanding of what is needed to get through the process as positively and successfully as possible, and to make sure your child’s interests are addressed and their benefits are protected.
I am proud to currently be the only Certified Divorce Coach exclusively focused on helping families with children with autism or other disabilities. I am one of the first CDC Certified Special Needs Divorce Coaches, and even helped develop content for the certification program, based on my experience and leadership in special needs divorce.
I help people navigate what to do before, during, and after divorce, so that their children’s special needs are considered and addressed as part of the process. I’m honored to offer personalized coaching and consulting to help my clients in their unique situations. To help even more people, I created a mini-course on The Keys to Success in a Special Needs Divorce (https://bit.ly/DivorceTipsForMoms), sharing my top tips and learnings, from both a mom and coach perspective. And I love sharing my experiences and insights via podcasts, articles, webinars, presentations, and social media, for all to access and become empowered in their situations.
Please reach out at https://www.specialfamilytransitions.com/ or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you or someone you know might need guidance or support to survive a family transition and plan for a bright future. Stay Strong – I’m here for you!
By Mary Ann Hughes
Certified Divorce Coach & Founder of Special Family Transitions LLC