When you need help managing the countless details involved with getting married—invitations, flowers, music, venue you hire a wedding planner. Likewise, when you find yourself ready to exit a marriage, it’s nice to have someone to help you navigate the complexities of the process. Enter the divorce concierge.
A divorce concierge (or coach) doesn’t replace the need for a divorce attorney, but it can make ending things a whole lot easier, especially in states like California, where the dissolution of a marriage can involve complicated procedures. “The area of family law—particularly in California—is fraught with peril for both women and men, and most especially for the children of divorce,” says California family law attorney Anne P. Mitchell. “There are so many ‘gotchas’ and pitfalls.”
Beyond the legal aspects of divorce
“Hiring a divorce coach is worth every penny,” says Kimberly Mishkin, a divorce concierge at SAS for Women who helps clients find a good lawyer and keep legal bills in line. “While I cannot replace a mediator or attorney, I am able to help clients understand the basics of the legal process and help them choose the right process and professional depending on their circumstances.”
Meghan Freed, founder of family law firm Freed Marcroft in Hartford, Connecticut, is seeing more people choose to work with a divorce concierge. “While the emotional and financial impacts of a divorce are often discussed, a less-discussed reality is that going through a divorce is simply very time-consuming,” she says. “The divorce process itself—as well as the accompanying life changes—puts a lot on our clients’ plates.”
“The divorce concierge industry is filling a gap between the client’s legal team and their therapist,” says attorney Peter Walzer of the Walzer Melcher LLP, a family law firm in Southern California. “Divorce is a lot of work that involves answering questions, gathering documents, securing outside resources, and collecting evidence.”
Walzer explains that your attorney can fulfill many of these needs, but their fees may be best used on legal work. “The concierge can help you set appointments, work through to-do lists, vet various professionals, and support you through the labor-intensive process of divorce.”
Taking a holistic approach to divorce
“Your lawyer may be able to direct you to that professional who will provide moral support and help with the day-to-day work of being a divorce client,” says Walzer. Some individuals choose to use their divorce concierge essentially as a personal assistant during the divorce. “The concierge might run errands, play a client’s bills, research and interview child care providers, or assist with the appraisal or sale of the home,” says Freed.
The services provided by a divorce concierge run the gamut, covering the endless details involved with ending one lifestyle and embarking on another. They can help clients at any stage of the process, from those who are just contemplating a divorce, to those in the midst of the legal proceedings, to those whose divorce is finalized and are looking to start over.
For a fee, a concierge might assist with:
- Financial research: helping clients take steps to secure financial footing during and after the divorce
- Self-improvement: helping clients redefine themselves via image and career counseling, life coaching, fitness training, weight loss programs, cosmetic procedures, and other improvements for starting over
- Child care: helping clients fill in the gaps created by the divorce, making sure all of the children’s needs—from infant care to getting into college—continue to be met
- Matchmaking: helping clients find a new love or life partner for the next phase of their life
Navigating unknown territories
Betsy Cox, a self-proclaimed “expert in divorce lifestyle management,” founded New York City’s Blackbook Divorce to help divorcing individuals understand and work through the complicated process. Cox, according to her website, “retains a large network of specialists in every field to help clients with all their needs.”
The Divorce Concierge Group in Washington was started by Liza Feiler after her own marriage ended. She now helps clients sell their homes, find health insurance coverage, and “bridge the gap from marriage to independence.”
The needs of those utilizing a divorce concierge tend to follow gender stereotypes. Men, for example, frequently seek help managing their home and children, while women often look for financial guidance and real estate advice. But both sexes can rely on the concierge for the support and direction that only a true advocate can provide.
“I think that the concept of a divorce concierge is a good one,” says Walzer. “They can save money for clients who have complex cases that have a lot of paperwork involved. For the right client, it is a much-needed service—an organized client is a good client who is more likely to resolve their matter sooner than those who are not able to keep up the pace of the litigation.”