Dayton, OH – It’s important to be prepared when the time arrives to take dinner out of the oven. Debra Doak learned this from experience, and this reference is not about cooking. It’s her favorite analogy for the moment when a person is certain the relationship is over and divorce is inevitable.
“I stayed in an unhappy marriage for years thinking that somehow it would magically get better,” Debra said. “One night, I reached a point where it became crystal clear that my marriage could never be a healthy place for me, so I took the dinner out of the oven, packed a backpack and left.
“I worried about my kids, money, how I’d support myself, what friends and family would think. Essentially, I was afraid,” Debra added. “Once I finally decided to leave, I made my divorce harder and more expensive than it had to be. The challenges I experienced inspired me to provide women with the proper guidance so they will be prepared when they take dinner out of the oven and start the first chapter of their new life.”
Debra is a Certified Divorce Coach® and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® who helps clients make confident emotional and financial decisions leading up filing a divorce, and through the entire process. Divorce is the second highest stressor for humans, second only to the death of a spouse, according to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale from The American Institute of Stress. Debra understands this first-hand as she has survived two divorces.
Recently, Debra released her first book – “High-Conflict Divorce for Women: Your Guide to Coping Skills and Legal Strategies for All Stages of Divorce” – from Callisto Media. From her website at www.debradoak.com, she offers products and services like:
– The “Stay, Wait or Go” one-on-one coaching program
– Individualized divorce coaching
– Life transition coaching
– The soon-to-debut PIVOT Group Coaching for Women
– The Know Your Numbers Starter Pack, which features six forms for personal data, financial information and budgeting
Decades ago, Debra’s career focus was in a different area. After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and math from Allegheny College, she worked in the financial services industry before joining Christ United Methodist Church as communications director. It was there where she developed an initial interest in supporting women who were struggling with divorce.
“I was a highly visible staff member and worship leader, and women would open up to me and tell me their story,” Debra said. “They were frightened about how they would live on their own, and they just needed someone who had been where they are to listen to them and offer helpful insight.”
Helping women not repeat the same mistakes she made during her two divorces, Debra decided to earn her CDC Certified Divorce Coach certification to offer clients guidance for everything from everyday decisions amid the emotional rollercoaster to life-altering choices with topics like child custody, alimony and other aspects of divorce. She also earned the CDFA® (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) designation, which is awarded to students who pass a series of exams demonstrating their knowledge of the financial issues specific to divorce.
“When people are in crisis, and feel overwhelmed with emotions, they do not always practice sound logic and problem-solving,” Debra said. “This leads to costly mistakes that can have damaging long-term consequences.”
In 2013, the American Bar Association added divorce coaching to the list of alternative dispute resolutions. Divorce coaches work alongside other members of a team – including lawyers, therapists, financial advisors and even Realtors and mortgage brokers to not only produce the best outcome possible in the divorce, but to also enhance the mental and financial wellness when the process is over and the next stage of life begins.
“Life is full of tough choices. Like trying to decide if your marriage just needs some CPR, if there’s a way to rebuild trust and intimacy, or if it’s broken beyond repair,” Debra said. “Working with someone who knows about betrayal trauma, emotional abuse, boundaries, co-dependency and other junk that keeps us stuck can help you learn new skills to step up your relationship or gain the clarity and confidence to leave.
“Divorce presents you with big decisions with big consequences – for you, your children, and your financial future,” she added. “What I do as a Certified Divorce Coach® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® is offer professional support from someone who understands the emotional, legal and financial parts of divorce. I help people sort through all the noise, prioritize what they want, and coordinate the other professionals who are essential parts of the process.”
The average divorce costs $20,000, and it can escalate to $50,000 if wise decisions are not made, Debra explains. Making smart choices in divorce requires having the right information, she says, which is her ultimate objective.
“I specifically pursued the CDFA® training because I understand how important financial issues are in divorce,” Debra said. “As a CDFA®, I work with clients to analyze their marital finances, organize data for financial disclosure forms, and help them understand both the short-term and long-term impact of settlement proposal options.”
High-Conflict Divorce for Women represents another avenue for Debra to reach and inspire more women beyond her one-on-one coaching and group coaching. The book showcases practical strategies, helpful scripts, and realistic advice on how to navigate and cope with a difficult divorce. It provides insight about the legalities of divorce, guidelines on developing a post-divorce budget, tips for emotional and physical self-care, and suggestions to reduce stress. Among the topics covered are traversing divorce court and caring for your kids, including explaining divorce to them and creating a co-parenting plan.
“I get up every morning determined to remind one more client of her strength and wisdom,” Debra said. “You only have one chance to get your agreement right.”
There are contentious divorces and amicable divorces, but every divorce means that life as you’ve known it will dramatically change.
“That is scary, especially when you don’t fully understand the process and your options,” Debra said. “The antidote to fear is knowledge, and as a personal divorce coach, I help my clients manage their emotions, and improve their confidence and resilience. I think about how I felt when I knew it was time to take dinner out of the oven, and I am determined to make sure that every woman I work with prepared when it is their time to do the same.”