Collaborative Divorce Northwest Blog > Approach to Vocational Assessment in Collaborative Divorce Helps Settle Spousal Support

Posted on July 28, 2013


From Gail Nicholson, MA, LPC:

“Many divorcing women are scared to death of becoming bag ladies, and many men are scared to death of becoming indentured servants.” J. Mark Weiss, JD

Vocational assessments, when provided by a collaborative career coach help[s] settle spousal support in collaborative and mediated divorce cases. The approach, a combination of personal and career counseling and coaching, engages the whole person who is divorcing, and addresses the entire family system.

This type of career coaching empowers a divorcing woman by involving her in the creation of a plan for her future including next steps for education, job search or small business start-up. It goes beyond traditional vocational assessment and employment projections to include help with fears about re-entering the workplace, guidance to gather info about her options and consideration of the impact her plan may have on her spouse and the rest of the family.

Typically fears are induced by past employment or educational challenges, technological change, age, not knowing what’s out there and a perceived loss of skills, relevance and self-confidence. In addition, most women are concerned about how going back to work and/or school will affect her children. All of these concerns are addressed openly, creating safety. As fears are faced and ideas generated to navigate them, it becomes more possible to assess her interests and skills and think about what she might want to do. A discussion of her values is helpful in clarifying priorities and trade-offs as she begins to negotiate with her husband.

Once the vocational assessment has helped her identify her best career options or validated an idea that she’s been considering, she is coached to research her ideas further through on-line resources, informational interviews and speaking with college advisers. This hands-on work fosters a vision of what is possible and is useful in narrowing options. It also creates a sense of ownership and boosts self-confidence. Women bloom.

If feasible, a woman’s educational plan and timing can be tied to her children’s school schedule. For example, her first day back in college to obtain a BA can be timed with her child’s entry into kindergarten or first grade, minimizing childcare costs and giving her more time to pursue her studies.

In addition to offering support and guidance to a divorcing woman a collaborative approach to vocational assessment addresses a husband’s fears and concerns and incorporates his feedback as the team of attorneys, coaches, financial neutrals and couple work together.

If he is open to helping his spouse pursue more education (and many men pursuing mediation or a collaborative divorce are) his needs and concerns are explored. As the couple’s finances become clearer or are subject to change, husband’s voice to create a step-down in spousal support is heard and incorporated into wife’s plan.

Read more at Collaborative Divorce Northwest Blog.