When I first started my company, I was shocked by one thing: People seemed convinced that they didn't need help with divorce transition. Rather, they viewed the legal process as the entirety of the divorce, and if they had a lawyer, they felt all their needs were covered. But despite having legal counsel, they were extremely stressed and overwhelmed by all they had to do during the divorce process. They just weren't sure exactly where they would use extra help.
Why were people convinced they could do it all even when their stress seemed to be at it's maximum? Having come from a law firm, where it seemed that clients could use all the extra help they could get, I wondered what made people so hesitant.
This got me thinking about weddings. Most people I know have been incredibly stressed by the process of planning a wedding -- the logistics, catering, floral arrangements, seating charts and on and on. While planning a wedding might seem complicated, it pales in comparison to the logistics of unraveling one's married life through the divorce process. A wedding is one discreet event, one day, not a process potentially continuing for years. Moreover, weddings are planned when people are happy, in love, even elated. People handling the never-ending to-do list of a divorce are often doing so in a very depressed state, functioning well below their best.
But, when the budget allows, it seems to be the accepted norm that a wedding planner or coordinator will be hired.
Of course, it's not that people refuse to hire any professionals during a divorce -- a first call is often to an attorney. An attorney, though, isn't the equivalent of a wedding planner for divorce. They're more like an officiant; the professionals without whom it wouldn't be a wedding or a divorce at all.
I doubt many brides consider the wedding planned in its entirety, gift bags delivered and all, once they have found someone to officiate their wedding. Rather, they look for a planner: Someone who knows the ins and outs of the whole process, and who takes the stress out of a potentially daunting situation.
Unfortunately, during a divorce life moves on. One must to continue to work, in or out of home, while managing the legal ending of a marriage. All this while potentially finding a new place to live, implementing a new child care arrangement, changing legal names, getting new insurance and changing title on major assets. The list is seemingly endless. Things that would be stressful and tedious on their own, like finding new insurance, are compounded by emotions and the fact that everything is piling up all at once.
When a new client calls me, my goal is to take stressful to-do's off his or her plate. There are some things in the divorce that they need to do themselves. Nobody else will be able to address their children's need for attention from their parents during this critical time. But there are many things that don't need to be personally managed from the big things, like making sense disorganized financial papers and building a financial plan for settlement, the medium, setting up a child's room in a new space, all the way down to the minutia, like buying groceries.
Of course, for many people, the concern is financial. Hiring an attorney is extremely expensive, on top of the fact that the finances of one household must now service two. Hiring other professionals is certainly a luxury. But, for those who can afford the luxury, for those who would hire a wedding planner, why is there a sense that one must go it alone during a divorce?
Why not divorce planning?