The dissolution of a marriage is a major life transition that entails having to make some of the toughest decisions of your life at a time when you are least able to.
Not knowing what to do -- and not being able to learn or take in information about these areas of your life that could potentially impact you and your kids for years to come -- means that you have to depend on others for help.
When I give educational workshops on how to navigate the divorce process, I tell the audience that one of the most important things they can do to have a better divorce experience is to gather a "divorce team." While this may sound scary and expensive, people who don't hire enough or the right professionals often end up spending far more time, energy and money than they need to.
Finding the right professionals early on may be easier said than done, but all you need is one professional you like and trust to get started. You can then ask her for assistance in getting the other team members together. If you're lucky, a divorce network will already exist in your area.
Introducing The Divorce Dream Team
Last year, several professional women in Northern California and Oregon who specialize in helping people through transitions joined forces to see how we might be able to serve women in transition together.
Our group was originally called, "The Richness of Women Alliance," however in February of 2011, we realized that the bulk of women we served were divorcing, so we decided to turn our focus to this population.
The Divorce Dream Team , as one woman called us, is a group who has come together to provide "one-stop-shopping" resources for women going through divorce. We offer divorce- and transition-related services for a fee as well as pro bono services to a limited number of women each year. In addition, the Divorce Dream Team sponsors special events on a variety of topics designed to empower and educate women.
Our team currently consists of eight members.
Myra Natter is a Certified Financial Planner and the brainchild behind our team. The women Myra asked to be part of this group made up her divorce team a few years back. She knows first-hand what a difference having a team can make in negotiating the twists and turns in a marital dissolution. Myra has no doubt that the team helped her have a much better outcome in her divorce and she felt so strongly about it, she wanted to share the concept with others in her community.
Trudy Balston is a Certified Public Accountant whose business focuses on helping clients make the best use of their financial resources while also reducing their tax burden. Because marital dissolution impacts the couple's tax status, having a good CPA is a must for every divorcing person.
Susan Bross, an Accredited Financial Counselor, has dedicated her work to taking the fear and struggle out of people's financial lives and helping them create a sense of success and ease in day to day money matters. In addition to her counseling, Susan provides educational workshops on Divorce and Finances.
Kathleen Daly is a very experienced Real Estate Broker who has become quite knowledgeable about the special emotional needs divorcing couples have when selling their home and dividing assets.
Thea Eliot is an Estate Planning Attorney. This is an aspect of marital dissolution that is often overlooked but Thea makes the creating or recreating of an estate very "user-friendly," and has helped many divorcing couples resolve difficult issues.
Dianne Morrison, a Business and Marketing Consultant, has facilitated the transition of many women who have gone from stay-at-home-mothers back into the work place - in particular those who want to start their own businesses. Even in challenging economic times, Dianne helps women achieve success.
Delores Schoffman, Insurance Broker, is a master at finding the right insurance package for her clients' needs. Because she is often sought out after the death of a loved one or after a divorce, Delores has tremendous compassion for the clients she serves.
And I'm a Licensed Therapist and the author of two divorce-related books, Contemplating Divorce and Stronger Day by Day. I have dedicated much of my career to helping divorcing women recover emotionally from this major life transition as well as to reconstruct the family system.
The current Divorce Dream Team client base is primarily in the Pacific Northwest, however, we have served people throughout the U.S. and Canada.
What a Difference a Team Makes
One woman who came to see us last year had already spent $70,000 on attorney's fees and had nothing to show for it. As her therapist, I provided her the emotional support she needed and then several of us helped her get the other resources she required to get the divorce expedited (in her case, an experienced accountant, a real estate broker and an attorney who had a strong knowledge of real estate development).
Her divorce process was completed within four months and she spent less than $6,500 in that time. Had she stayed on her prior course of action, she would have continued to waste her resources at an alarming rate.
Another woman was caught in a very challenging position when her husband was laid off and she was left with less than $1000 per month (approximately half of his unemployment check) to live on to support herself and their two young children.
Our group came together to help this woman find housing, legal support, and medical insurance as well as creating a budget for her to live on. We also helped this woman find free services in the community such as low fee medical clinics, food stamps and free employment development services for her husband.
Going through divorce, this woman didn't have it in her mentally or emotionally to gather these resources on her own but, by pooling our knowledge and resources, the Divorce Dream Team was able to get her the assistance she needed.
We are currently planning our 2011 Event Calendar and we are accepting applications for the pro bono services. The Divorce Dream Team contact phone number is (415) 461-1436, our website is www.TheDivorceDreamTeam.com, and our email address is DivorceDreamTeam@gmail.com.