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  • Writer's pictureMaria Alejandra Cova Terán

Going Through A High-Conflict Divorce?

Sharon: Hello, everyone, this is Sharon Heller with Network in Action, and I'm here today with Natalie Van Note. And Natalie is a High Conflict Divorce Coach. Hi, Natalie.

Natalie: Hi. How are you doing Sharon?

Sharon: I'm good. Thanks for joining me today.

Natalie: No problem.

Sharon: I think a great place to start, Natalie, in our conversation today is if you can tell the viewers a little bit about what is a High Conflict Divorce Coach. Let's start there.

Natalie: Well, it started out with me. I have been a licensed professional counselor for 21 years. And in a previous life, I was in international management and I wanted to be able to still use my investigative skills and resolution skills, while still being a therapist, and it was recommended to me that I somehow use that in family law, specifically divorce. So way back when I got my therapy degree, I also started becoming a child and family investigator, a mediator, pretty much everything but an attorney you can do in family law. So I've been on the parallel track in both, for the past 21 years and my specialty, that I guess makes me even more unique, is the fact I bring in all my therapy background and the law, that I specialize in therapy with very difficult to treat people. People with personality disorders like narcissism and borderline personality disorders, and very difficult to treat people in general. And I actually kind of thrive on it, but I've developed a really comprehensive set of coping skills, and when I decided to start the coaching process, it's very different than just being a divorce coach.

The actual American Bar defines divorce coaching as just a supportive process for people that are going through a divorce, not quite a therapy, and not definitely what I do. So I tell people I am a unicorn. I'm pretty much the only person that has more than two decades in both fields and specializes only in high conflict, people that just cannot get along before, during, or after the divorce. So that's how I got into it, and that's where I am now.

Sharon: Thank you for sharing that, Natalie, I think your uniqueness also goes to somebody who could do that kind of work, and work with really difficult individuals and support those that are interacting with them. When I think about somebody who's going through a divorce or a separation with a really difficult spouse or partner, why is it important for someone in that situation to get professional help from someone like you? I want to say like you, but I don't know anyone else like you.

Why is it so valuable for someone to get that kind of help?

Natalie: If they're at high conflict divorce, especially if they use my services, I can guarantee I save my clients time in getting their divorce done or their post-divorce done. I save a whole lot of money and I am especially passionate about keeping their kids out of it, to not get them caught in the middle. And also making sure of their kids' transition to these new family units and blossom and thrive, in the way it was meant to be in the first place. Often it doesn't end up being that way because attorneys and judges, and even most therapists don't know how to deal with that. That's something that uniquely I do know how to deal with. So I think that's why it's so important to at least consider talking to someone like me, about it. And I don't just offer one type of coaching, I have several different types within my business.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah. And that's part of why I wanted to do this video today, is to get the word out that there is somebody like you, who's available to help because I imagine for these individuals, I mean, they're in such a turbulent situation already and trying to navigate it both, from the emotional side of things, and the legal side of things, and how to best support their children through it. That's tough.

Natalie: That's very true. And my job is to unbiasedly determine the true best interests of children in a high conflict situation, where at least one of the parent's personality disorders are involved and are getting in the way. So I usually work with the clients that got the rug pulled out from under them, by the person with the hard to treat personality disorder. So that usually balances things. If it's all about bullies and the other person in the equation, I try to make it level.

Sharon: I'm going to steer the direction a little bit into a conversation that probably affects more of us, maybe than the kind of your target individuals you work with, because I know being married and in a relationship and talking to other couples, that this time of COVID and these last many, many months where most of us, many of us are working from home in a situation that is different, and we have our spouse may be working from home too. And I just talked to so many couples that are just grappling with new issues and new dynamics in their relationship that they really, up until about four or five months ago, didn't have to deal with. So do you have any tips or any suggestions for those of us, maybe in healthier relationships, but are still kind of dealing with some new dynamics, that might help us out a little bit?

Natalie: Surprisingly, yes. It's odd that you said that because I didn't think I would get any calls from "healthy clients." But I have, from people who just want a few words of advice during COVID. Couples having challenges or just wanting to have a healthier relationship during COVID or if you're stuck at home, this is a great time to learn and experiment and implement new traditions.

And by that, I'm talking about things like, set movie night, or set date night in the house or even going out for a pick-up or you can dine outside or something, still do those things. Or if you've never done that, I'm encouraging couples to go outside your comfort zone, not taking off masks, I don't mean, I mean your relationship. Now's a good time to expand your relationship, even though physically you're together like this - expand that.

And in addition to that, I encourage each spouse to journal 20 minutes a day, by yourself. And 10 minutes of that would be free writing, and 10 minutes about what you need and want today. And then share that with your spouse and see what you can do gifting that to the other person because I know for myself and the people I talked to, we just kind of let that goes out the window because you're seeing each other all the time it like, wait a minute, take a little time for yourself. And figure out what is it that you need today personally, what is it that we need from the relationship, what is it that you need to do in the house? Quiet time, maybe your spouse or partner can take care of that for an hour or something. And in addition, exercise. Everybody in the house needs to exercise. And I don't mean the exercises that you were doing, although that's good. You can always try something where you're all going to be on the same learning curve at the same time.

So if your spouse already knows how to do a sport, don't try to learn that sport. You both should try a new activity, whether it be dance or aerobics or whatever, but do at the same time so you both look foolish at the same time, you are growing at the same time. And thinking of kids, learn art or calligraphy, all of them have learned calligraphy, none of us knows how to do it, and it's fun, it's actually really fun, and it draws on the part of our brain that we don't normally use. We think about the box and say, I love you unconditionally because. These are 3 things: I love you unconditionally because... I praise you because... And this is the kind of relationship I always want to have with you because... And those are ways I encourage couples and families.

Sharon: I love that. Natalie, everything you said from trying something new and having you all be new in it together, I get why that's so important. It's like an equalizer. I was thinking about one of the best family nights that we had during COVID, is we had to make your own sushi night and none of us knew how to do it. And we were all just, it was so much fun just being beginners together in something.

Natalie: Having a beginner's mind actually is the same thing that we do when we are doing mindfulness. And mindfulness is when your brain is at its calmest. And that's what we all need during COVID just to have a calm state of mind.

Sharon: Right. Right. Well, fantastic. Thank you, Natalie. And if someone watching this video wants to reach out to you, maybe they have a friend who is going through a really turbulent separation or divorce, or they themselves know they can benefit from the services you provide. What's the best way for them to reach out to you?

Natalie: Well, they can either go to my web site and find out information there, or they can just go to and send me an email or they can call me to the phone number that's on that website. I'm more than happy to do anything from answering questions. As I said, my range of services goes from, you know, one in one-day services, through lengthy services. So anything that people need right now. I've been finding that people are crawling out of the woodwork that needs all sorts of different services and it's more than my pleasure.

Sharon: Thank you so much for your time today, and I look forward to talking with you again soon.

Natalie: Likewise, and thank you for having me.

Sharon: Yeah. All right. Take care. And again, feel free to reach out to Natalie Van Note High Conflict Divorce Coach.

If you are going through a high-conflict divorce (or know someone who is) Natalie can save you time, money, and unnecessary hardship for the kids. And a few bonus tips on taking care of your healthy relationship during this pandemic. To contact Natalie, please visit:

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