Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Could you benefit from the support of a divorce coach?
In this episode, Marc Bautis is joined by divorce coach Jason Levoy to discuss what it’s like to navigate the divorce process with a coach on your side. This conversation is dedicated to bringing you full details about a source of support you may have overlooked until now.
In this episode, you will learn:
- At which stage people usually engage a divorce coach
- Why some people approach Jason after a divorce is final
- What sets Jason apart from other divorce coaches
- Jason’s tips for people at different stages of divorce
- And more!
Tune in to hear from divorce coach Jason Levoy and consider whether coaching is right for you!
Welcome to the Agent of Wealth with Marc Bautis of Bautis Financial. Today we have a special guest in-studio and that is Jason Levoy. Good morning gentlemen. How are you? Good morning Aric, how are you? Good morning. Doing fantastic. Jason, thanks so much for being here. Marc, can you introduce the guest for us.
Marc:I can. We brought Jason Levoy on today’s show and Jason is a divorce expert. Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Jason is actually a former divorce attorney turned divorce coach who helps people navigate the divorce process. He is also the host of the popular podcast “The Divorce Resource Guy,” where he talks about all things divorce related. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason: Great Marc. Thanks for having me. I’m so excited.
Marc: How did you get into specializing in divorce?
Jason: Surprisingly, I actually wanted to be in the divorce space when I went to law school, which was not right away. I went to college and after graduating I was actually in the pharma industry for a couple of years. I went to graduate school in California and planned to be a writer for TV and film, believe it or not.
I went to law school a little bit later, but when I went, it was for the actual purpose of becoming a divorce attorney. And I remember it like yesterday. People said: “Why would you want to do that?
Marc: How long were you a divorce attorney for?
Jason: I was a divorce attorney for I think between five and six years.
That’s all I did. And again, that’s what I wanted to specialize in. Some people practice law as generalists. They practice all different areas of law; divorce law being one of them. Other people specialize in it. So I specialized in it and that’s all we did. It was a complicated enough area that for a lot of people, that’s the only area that they will work in.
Marc: At some point did you say “Alright this is not what I want to do anymore?”
Jason: There was a moment; and it was a very clear moment. And if we have time, I’ll share the story with you because I remember it well. I was sitting in my office and I was working with another attorney. I don’t remember if it was the wife or the husband that I represented, but I was on the phone with the other attorney for the other spouse and we were talking about a custody issue; it was a really small issue in the big scope of whatever else was going on. And it really had to do with who was going to be home on a Saturday morning to pick the child up at 11:00 or 12:00. That’s what we were talking about; one hour time and we were spending a lot more than one hour trying to figure this out.
Between our respective clients not agreeing and having their own motivations for wanting certain things there, both attorneys became frustrated and I became super frustrated. I remember it like it was yesterday: I hung up the phone and I put my arms up in the air and I said: “that’s it.” I said: “I am not going to do this this way for the rest of my career. And there has to be something better out there, a better way to help people.” Again, the whole intent of why I became a divorce attorney was to help people. Right. So that’s where the coaching became a bud and turned into a flower, so to speak. That’s when the idea to coach instead of actually represent people in their divorces was born.
Did you go straight from being an attorney and pivot to being a divorce coach? Yeah after that I quit. I quit being a divorce attorney and I haven’t done it since. In a formal capacity, I do not represent anybody now in their divorces. I strictly coach and what I find is that I can help so many more people that way. I also get to work with people nationally.
I have had people from other countries even come to me for help, but that’s a little bit harder. My reach is so much more now than what I was doing as a divorce attorney only working with people locally in New Jersey and in the area where I lived here.
The Phases of Divorce
Everybody going through a divorce goes through the same general principles.
- The Breakup, the downfall of the marriage
- The Filing of a complaint in court
- Dealing with the exchange of information during the process
- Negotiating custody and parent time
Those are universal issues no matter what state you’re getting divorced in. So that’s what I focus on; the generalities in helping people and guiding them through that process.
Marc: So where do you come in? Right from that first phase that you’re talking about-the breakup? When usually does someone engage with you?
Jason: They engage with me in all different phases.
I can’t tell you how often people tell me: “I wish I found you last year.” Or after the divorce is over, but they’re still dealing with post divorce issues. “I wish I found you three years ago.” I hear that all the time. But my ideal client, I tell people, is finding me and engaging me before anything is filed with the courts; before the courts even know who you are and why you’re preparing for your divorce. Or even thinking about it before you have an attorney. I help people choose the right attorney for them because that’s crucial. Choosing the wrong attorney can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Does Every Divorce Need an Attorney?
Jason: That’s a great question. The answer is maybe. You would think as an attorney I would say “yes, you definitely need an attorney.” But there are certain situations where I’ll be honest, you probably don’t need an attorney. For example, if both sides are really amicable, they can communicate well with each other, and the issues to be resolved in the divorce are rather simplistic. But, even if there were a whole host of issues that needed to be dealt with, if both parties can work together amicably and agree, then no I would say you don’t need an attorney. The whole point of an attorney is to do things that you can’t and to guide you in the space that you don’t have a lot of experience in.
For example, I would represent the spouse that was receiving alimony or entitled to alimony and we would get to the phase in the process where we’re negotiating the alimony amount and the duration. Even though my advice might have been to this person: “well from my experience and pursuant to the law, you are most likely entitled to 20 years of alimony,” and give a ballpark number of whatever I think that range would be. If my client came to me and said: “I’ve talked to my spouse. I’m going to accept 12 years of alimony” and gives me a reason that is good for them, I’m okay with it, and there’s nothing hazy going on then that’s fine. That’s her choice. I see my role as the attorney in that situation not to blow that up and say: “No don’t do that because you’re entitled to or I think you can get more.” As long as she understands what I’m saying, it is her life and she makes the decision on her life.
I’m just her advisor and at the end of the day, did she need me? Probably not. But even people who represent themselves, at the end of the process if they agree on things with their spouse, it will get written up into a marital settlement agreement. Then that should be reviewed by an attorney at the very least, just so they understand exactly what they’re agreeing to and the legal effects of that.
What Happens Post-Divorce?
Jason: Yes absolutely. Unfortunately, just when you think the divorce is over, it’s not. And that’s usually when you’ve got children involved, minor children. So people come to me with parenting issues all the time or they have to file post-divorce applications for relief. If somebody is not living up to their end of the settlement agreement, I will help them and coach them through that. I will help them if they have to file a motion and they are representing themselves; I will help them write the motion. I won’t write it for them. But, I will guide them and explain to them what they should be including in the motion: what points to hit, what the courts are looking for- that type of thing. I do a lot of that work.
Marc: Are there stages in the divorce process that you get involved in more frequently than other stages?
Jason: That’s a good question, too.
It really varies. Ideally I get somebody before the divorce actually starts and they’re thinking about it, but they’re not sure what to do. Or they may ask me: “do I need an attorney?” That’s the ideal situation working from somebody in the beginning. A lot of times, unfortunately, I get people who are in the middle of it, or who had an attorney but are not happy with them for whatever reason. Or, their attorney dumped them because the money ran out and they’re embroiled in a contested divorce situation. I work with people a lot in that situation where they’re somewhere along the process.
Marc: Going back to the post divorce stage, do you ever get involved helping someone, maybe not necessarily to help them file a motion, but helping them get back on their feet? It’s a big life changing event,
Jason: Yeah absolutely. Post-divorce life is intertwined with everything that happens in the divorce. So, I’m constantly working with people. It’s maintaining their focus no matter how bad it is right now, (and it could seem really bad) if you’re in a difficult divorce. At some point it’s going to end. And at some point it will be over and you will have your post divorce life to think about. But you should start thinking about that now. What do you want your post divorce life to look like? What do you want to do? Ideally what does that look like? If you could paint it on a canvas, what would it be? Every decision that you make in the divorce should be guided towards reaching that post divorce goal for yourself.
Marc: I see the coaching part definitely intertwined with it. As the divorce is ongoing could you still be a coach without having your background as an attorney? It seems like having that background is critical to being as successful as you are with it.
Jason: Well I’ll tell you this; there are a lot of people out there who label themselves divorce coaches but they’re not attorneys and that’s ok, but they do different things. They focus on a lot of the emotional aspects of what’s going on in the divorce. I do that too because it’s all intertwined, but what makes me a little bit different is as an attorney I am coaching people from an attorney’s point of view. I coach from the point of view as an attorney who’s done divorce law before. I understand the dynamics at play and what the court is looking for and what you need to prove in certain situations and evidence and everything involved with divorce. I’m not giving legal advice per say to people, but I am giving an attorney’s perspective on what I think you should be doing and what you should be thinking about.
I can coach people on everything from how to dress to court and on how to talk to a judge, which you would think is really simplistic stuff but it’s very important stuff. I could tell you stories about the times that I’ve seen people who didn’t know how to do that and it would just blow your mind. It’s the little things that are critical. When you add them all up you know that’s what creates your divorce process for you.
Deciding Divorce is the Right Path to Take
Jason: That doesn’t happen overnight. Or at least it shouldn’t happen overnight. I just talked to somebody yesterday and they wanted to hire me to do some coaching and you know something happened. They had it, and you could tell they were still emotionally charged from that experience. So I said, “I agree what happened to you is not good.” Maybe this is the road that you will end up going down, but sit with it for a few days. Talk to me on Monday. Let it marinate and just settle down for a day or two.” You never want to make any decision on life when you’re emotionally charged, so I always caution people. It’s funny because even as a divorce attorney when I was representing people and in their divorces they would come to me and say, “All right, we’re done. Let’s file a complaint right now. I don’t even have to think about it.” I would say, “OK, but you’re going to think about it.”
You would think divorce attorneys would jump up for another client right, but I would actually coach people to to see if there’s any opportunity to reconcile. As an attorney, this is what I did. I hated seeing marriages really break down especially if there was any chance of reconciliation or working it out by going to therapy. If one part of the couple came to me and said we’ve never been to marriage counseling before. I would say maybe we should pump the brakes here and give it a shot just to try it out. You never know what can happen. I’ve seen a lot of relationships and marriages come back from where you would think they were at the point of no return. If both people went and found a good counselor or a therapist and really wanted to try to make it work. That has happened multiple times and other times it hasn’t, but at least you want to try everything before you decide to end the marriage.
Marc: Do you see that you are getting engaged more with the husband, or wife, or are both equal?
Jason: Definitely more women, but I have my fair share of men too. It’s just different, I think it’s interesting because I think from a male perspective they’re more reluctant to come out and approach me or approach anybody with the fact that they’re having a problem. I don’t know if it’s a masculinity thing but I especially find that for women it’s easier for them to come out and say, “I’m dealing with this and I need help,” or “Who else is having these problems? Is it me? Am I crazy?” Men do it, but I just find that it takes more for them to get to that point.
Marc: What trends are you seeing in divorce? One thing that’s come across me as an adviser is that I’m seeing more and more articles about divorce happening later in life. Are you seeing that on your side or are you still seeing divorces mostly from younger couples?
Jacon: It’s a range, but there’s definitely an uptick in people getting divorced later. I would definitely say that. It’s interesting, I think a lot of that is financially driven. I mean, nowadays it’s often where you have both parents working just to make ends meet. So when you get divorced what happens is you’re going from one combined income in one household and you’re splitting that into two. Now you need 2 houses, you need to support two homes or residences, so that’s two mortgages or a mortgage and rent and then furnishings and electricity and two of everything. It’s just harder especially on one income.
I think a lot of people stay together because they feel like they can’t survive just on their income even if they were going to get some level of support and they don’t like what that looks like. I don’t blame them, it’s hard to downsize. On the other side of that do you stay in a toxic marriage? I know a lot of people who still think it’s beneficial to stay in a bad marriage when you have young children. They are staying together for the children and I am not sure I agree with that, although I totally understand it. I think children are resilient now. Not that they weren’t before, but the children are resilient. If you have two parents who agree that the marriage failed that doesn’t mean they will be bad parents. They can still be great parents and they can still solidly co-parent together even after divorce and the children will still flourish. You need those agreements and both parents have to be on the same page, but it can work.
I’ve seen it so many times where the marriage fails but they get amicably divorced and they are great parents and they both can talk to each other. Actually there are times where the parents’ relationship with each other is stronger after the divorce than during the marriage. This is fine, but again sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t co-parent together.
Marc: What tips would you give to someone who’s at each of these different stages of divorce and how to make the best the best of it?
Jason: Do they have children? If they have children, especially in New Jersey, the focus is the best interests of the child. That should be the main focus. Everywhere and anywhere is do what’s in the best interest for your children. It’s not about you anymore and that became true when you had children, whether you were married or not. The focus should be on providing for your children and in doing what’s in their best interest and not getting along with your ex or disparaging your ex in front of the kids and talking about bad about them or trying to alienate them from their mother or father. That’s not what you should be doing. Stop doing that and focus your efforts elsewhere. That’s why it kills me when I when I see that stuff going on. I actually stopped being a divorce attorney was because I didn’t want to be a part of that dynamic anymore. I didn’t feel like I was helping and I didn’t want to be part of the problem. It pains me when I see alienation going on and and parents continuing to fight each other after the divorce because they can’t get over themselves and whatever happened during the marriage.
Marc: I saw on your website you you have a Divorce University. Is that how you structure your engagement with someone?
Jaosn: I offer a variety of coaching packages under the Divorce U umbrella.
I have three core packages: Bachelors, Masters, and the PhD programs. I do that because everybody’s situation is different. I figure the majority of people situations would fit into one of those packages.
For example, the Bachelors program is if you have one issue that you just need help with and to work through, but other than that you’re pretty good. Then the bachelors program is probably for you but.
If you have a situation where you’re just totally overwhelmed and you need all the information you can get about divorce I developed and created a video divorce course on how to get divorced A-Z. That’s the Masters program and if you purchase that you can watch it anywhere online as long as you have Internet access. You have a password and registration safeguards so it’s only you who can access it. I literally walk you through every phase of the divorce process step by step through narrated presentations. It’s like I’m talking to you right now except on the computer and pretty much telling you everything you need to know, what documents you need to be getting, and thinking through each stage all the way from preparing for divorce through a divorce trial if unfortunately you ever get there, and hopefully you don’t. That is more of a do-it-yourself option, for people who are comfortable with that.
The PhD Program
The PhD program is both. It’s both personal divorce coaching with me and access to the video course on how to get divorced A-Z, so you get the best of both worlds.
Marc: I know you mentioned the trial. I know you’re not practicing attorney but do you ever get involved in trials when there is a divorce?
Jason: Yeah, I mean especially with people representing themselves. If they find themselves facing a divorce trial they need a lot of help because the trial is not easy. It’s not even easy for attorneys. I do help them organize themselves and get them prepared as best as I can to get through that experience. Realistically, if you’re finding yourself faced with a divorce trial a lot of things went wrong in a lot of places. The majority of cases settle and should settle and sometimes it takes two. It always takes two. If you find yourself with somebody who is just hell bent on having a trial to settle the divorce you might be faced with that experience.
Marc: I know you’re a fellow podcaster. What do you talk about on your podcast?
Jason: My podcast, “The Divorce Resource Guy,” podcast it’s divorce coaching. It’s what I write about except the difference is I have guest experts on. I’m your guest today, but hopefully you’ll be my guest in the future. I’ll have guests in all different aspects of the divorce arena. Anyone from therapists, to other coaches, attorneys and we just jam on everything divorce. I really enjoy doing it and I hope it’s informative for everybody and a little bit entertaining at the same time.
Marc: Great. Well I think we’re just about out of time. Thank you for joining us Jason. How best can people connect and reach out to you?
Jason: You can find everything about me through my Website: jasonlevoy.com. I have a free private Facebook group people can join. You can access my podcast through there and learn about my Divorce U programs. If anybody ever has any questions about me or what I’m doing just email me at [email protected].