Paying for a divorce coach to hold your hand as you untie the marital knot has become much more common over the past few years.

By law, If you’ve been together for more than three years, then you’re entitled to half the assets.

Divorce coaches step you through everything from how to tell your partner you want to separate, what to tell friends and family, and helping gather information the lawyers need to get you a fair settlement.

“I am not a lawyer, so I can’t give them legal advice,” said Aucklander Kimberlee Sweeney, who’s been divorce coaching for the past eight years.

“I can give them some guidance on what their lawyers might want from them so that they can then go in and ask their lawyers the right questions.”

But mostly it’s about being there during one of the most stressful times of a person’s life.

“Just giving them that emotional support and being their sounding board, as they work through the overwhelm, or the upset when things are not going the way they want,” she said.

“Helping them just kind of reflect on what really is important here, and what can they let go.”

Divorce isn’t something we really talk about, but while 16,000 New Zealand couples got married last year, 7000 divorced and that’s not counting those who ended civil unions or de facto relationships.

“It definitely grew with the lockdowns, once people were at home – the families all together for 24/7 – it started to kind of highlight people’s problems,” said Sweeney.

Her own divorce led her to look for a more positive and supportive way for people to end relationships.

She studied online at an American site based in Florida and, after five months, Sweeney was New Zealand’s first qualified CDC divorce coach.

“CDC stands for certified divorce coaching, it’s an international certification,” she said. “They train people all over the world. It’s a growing industry for sure.”

There are around a dozen people with CDC qualifications in Aotearoa, but there’s nothing to stop anyone from calling themselves a divorce coach.

“I feel like people could be taken advantage of during one of the worst times in their life,” she said.

“I really would like to see the industry regulated with a governing board and the code of ethics and maybe offer supervision and support for coaches similar to what counsellors get.”