The announcement last month by actress Gwyneth Paltrow that she and rockstar Chris Martin would part ways became particularly noteworthy in a celebrity obsessed world because she never used the word divorce. She used “conscious uncoupling” and sparked a viral hashtag.
But most divorces are not that easily handled. Fact, divorce rates in the U.S. have held steady at about 50 percent and most are complicated and drawn out and full of, let’s just say it, too much drama. So much so that a documentary released this year, Divorce Corp., exposes how divorce benefits those in the industry while damaging families.
That is where a service like Matters of Divorce comes in. Acting as a “divorce concierge” or a one-stop shop, Matters of Divorce can be the best first step to set anyone considering a divorce or decided on divorce and help set them on the right path.
“Looking back, going into and coming out my divorce, I was clueless,” said Matters of Divorce founder and director Carlos Blanco, who was served with papers by his wife of 24 years in 2009. “It was frustrating and emotionally draining. Deep down I kept asking myself ‘Does it have to be this way?’ I kept thinking it did not.”
He talked to friends and co-workers and many had gone through the same exhausting experiences – not just because of the financial drain, but also because of the overwhelming emotional upheaval.
“Men and women alike, we all shared similar nightmares. We all had to figure out how to spend time with our kids. We all had to recalculate our retirement plans. We all had to learn to live alone again, without a partner,” Blanco said.
He also realized that everyone made similar mistakes born out of the emotional fatigue. And he decided to use what he had learned to form the basis of a “blueprint” for divorce.
“I’ve always been a big believer in education and awareness as a means to empowerment. So I decided to do something about the complete lack of unbiased information and actual assistance for divorcing couples,” Blanco said.
Matters of Divorce not just answers the most common questions about alimony, child support, retirement plans, insurance and other logistics, but also provides referrals to lawyers, financial planners, real estate agents and psychologists to help couples or their children with the transition.
The MOD Squad, as these professionals are called, include, among others, such prominent community and business leaders as: family law attorney Carolann Mazza; financial services companies Morgan Stanley, Divorce Financial Solutions Now, Strada Wealth Management, John Hancock Financial Network, and Proactive Financial Advice; psychologists Howard Chusid, Craig Fabrikant and Jerome Poliacoff; accounting firms Cherry Bekaert; De la Hoz & Associates and Kabat, Schertzer, De La Torre, Taraboulos & Co; real estate attorney Nelson Taracido; and insurance providers Jerry Stapel and Worldwide Assurance.
“What Matters of Divorce has done is bring together professionals like myself and others who can work with the same client to get the best outcome from a divorce,” said Dr. Jerome Poliacoff, a Coral Gables based psychologist who is one of the MOD Squad members.
“I believe that this is an idea whose time has come and I hope that it changes the way that people look at divorce. Yes, it is one of the most difficult things you can go through, but it is also one of the most important negotiations in one’s lifetime. It is good to have a team on your side,” Poliacoff said.
For Debbie Nodar, who was ending her marriage after 28 years, the referrals and the guidance made all the difference in the world.
“Matters of Divorce was a wonderful experience amidst a time of pain and loss,” said Nodar, who wanted it to be done as amicably as possible – especially for the sake of their two daughters. When she called Matters of Divorce, she was assigned a “transition advocate” who helped her identify and find the resources she needed.
“He sat with me and listened with sympathy and kindness to the needs Jose and I had in ending our marriage. Then based upon those needs, he gave us referrals to aid us achieve our goal, which was a divorce with as little hostility and animosity as possible,” Nodar said.
“The mediator we were referred to through Matters of Divorce treated us with dignity and, although difficult, our divorce could have been so much worse.
“I appreciate the advantage Matters of Divorce gave us. They listened to our needs and through their assistance, we reached a settlement within two months and have been able to maintain a decent relationship,” Nodar said. “Thanks to Matters of Divorce, we were not placed in a possibly adversarial position by each of us hiring attorneys from the very start.”
For Diane Bing, 56, Matters of Divorce became a lifeline when her husband left her after a quarter of a decade. She needed help securing medical insurance and, because she kept the second home, with her address change and homestead exemption. She needed an attorney for her trust. She needed a financial planner to help her make her settlement payments last.
“When she came to us, she was devastated – in a long term marriage that ended and now she was forced to start a brand new life alone,” Blanco said.
“I was a basket case,” admits Bing. She was initially in shock and didn’t even know where to begin.
“They helped me with everything. Absolutely everything. Simple things like helping with the changing of my address and all my IDs,. I didn’t know what to do about my homeowner’s insurance, my health insurance, my car insurance. They helped me look at options, and I choose the best one for me. I got a financial planner because I didn’t know what to do with all this money I was getting.”
“I was a longtime homemaker and didn’t do any of the finances in the home. They helped me learn to take care of myself,” Bing said.
It was also important to her to know that she had someone looking out for her best interests.
“What was most important was the personal attention and emotional support. They were so positive and upbeat, it made me feel like everything was going to be okay.”
Personal attention is one of the important things Blanco says sets Matters of Divorce apart.
“It makes a difference to know that you are talking to someone who knows what you are going through and is equipped to identify what services and tools you are going to need to get through it,” Blanco said.
“I only wish I had that during my divorce,” he laughs.
For more information, go to Matters of Divorce website at www.mattersofdivorce.com or call 305-908-1171.