Divorce is an incredibly difficult journey – no bones about it; you may be wracked with grief, stress, guilt and fear. Trying to navigate your divorce and co-parenting all alone is like rock climbing without having someone on the other end of your rope to catch you if you fall. Definitely not advisable!

When we are scared and lonely, we tend to turn to our loved ones and friends for support. We vent to them. We cry on their shoulders. We count on them and often want them to agree with us, so we seek their advice and guidance with that goal in mind. This all makes sense and is natural. However, there are also problems with relying on friends and family members.

Family members and friends are often biased. They usually do not know the legal, emotional, psychological and financial issues associated with your divorce. Their advice may be based on misinformation and on situations much different than your own.

In addition, family members and friends usually are worried about your well-being and want to make sure you protect yourself. Their advice likely comes from a place of fear. Their fear will end up feeding your own, making it harder for you to approach your divorce with openness and care for all.

Some family members and friends may have taken the divorce journey, and are bitter and angry. Even if they have not taken the journey themselves, perhaps they have heard horror stories about other people’s hard journeys, and these stories and experiences affect their advice.

When you are going through a divorce, it is important to have support from someone who is unbiased, clear, strong, compassionate, and knowledgeable. Imagine being guided through your divorce by a professional — someone who has been there before and has guided others on this path many times. Someone who can help you rise to the fullness of who you are beyond your fears, so you can cross through this treacherous terrain with grace, dignity and respect. Someone who can help you see beyond who is right and who is wrong, who can listen to your concerns and questions and give you the guidance and support you need. You want someone who can support you emotionally and spiritually and help you make the best decisions possible.

Rather than navigate divorce alone, it is critical to have someone who can help you lay the foundation for the rest of your life and your children’s lives. With accessible, high-quality support, you can relax more and focus on having fun with your children and rebuilding your life. And when things seem to be spinning out of control and you need support, you can turn to this person, whom you know you can rely on and trust.

The stress of divorce impacts your clarity – you are probably confused and your heart may well be torn, if not broken. Rather than rely on friends and family who may well share your pain and sorrow but not grasp the whole situation, it is critical to have the support of a neutral third party whom you trust.

How you navigate your divorce and co-parenting relationship provides a model for your children of how they can resolve differences in their own lives. Do you want your children growing up believing that the only way to handle their problems and conflicts is to fight it out, dig in their heels and try to win at all costs? Or do you want your children to learn that it is possible to have profound differences, even with loved ones, and still be able to be respectful, caring and compassionate?

About the Author: Cat J. Zavis is an Attorney, Mediator, Child Advocate, Coach for Parents co-parenting their children after divorce. As a divorced mother of two, she deeply understands the challenges, trauma and opportunities divorce provides. She has been practicing Nonviolent Communication, Mediation and Collaborative Law for 7 years. Visit her website here.