Divorce Strategies Northwest
It’s hard to anticipate all that divorce entails. Enormous attorneys’ fees, the months-long waiting game, the unexpected judgment from friends or family, the financial changes and the parenting plans that need to be set in place. These were some of the realities Leah Hill faced when she left her marriage of 17 years in late 2016. And the mother of three faced them largely without access to support or accurate information.
That change in her life motivated Leah Hill to establish Divorce Strategies Northwest.
“Divorce can be a very lonely process,” said Hill, founder of the two-year-old startup “You’re going through this very traumatic, emotional situation, and you are literally negotiating for your future life.”
After her own long, traumatic, and expensive experience going through a divorce, Hill, a trained victims’ advocate and certified parenting coach, was familiar with the difficult barriers littering the divorce process, and the places where there weren’t adequate support systems. So, she started Divorce Strategies Northwest to fill those gaps and help people avoid similar barriers, wasteful spending and unhelpful situations.
“Divorce is fear of the unknown, so information is power,” Hill said. “People stay in bad relationships with misnomers and a lack of understanding of the truth,” Hill said. “We help our clients understand what co-parenting and their finances would look like should they choose legal separation or divorce. This empowers you to decide what is best for your future.”
Westside families were helped
“Many people have never experienced this before they come to us,” Hill said. Two of DSNW’s most recent cases included families from West Seattle.“One where the couple approached us together and remained amicable throughout the process. We worked with both parents to decide what was best for their family, as their family changed. In another case, we worked with one spouse to approach the process in a more logical and cost-effective way. Even if it’s not someone’s first divorce, the process is complex and draining enough to necessitate extra help.” Another added bonus for working with DSNW—we come to you!” Hill said.
Hill made it clear that the startup is by no means a surrogate for a qualified and knowledgeable attorney, which continues to be an essential piece to the process of divorce.
“Most people start by thinking, “I need to start calling law firms,’” Hill said. “An attorney will often start by asking you for a large sum of money — $10,000 – just to start to start your account. In many cases, people don’t have access to that kind of money without alerting their spouse.”
This step proves to be one of many roadblocks for people seeking a divorce, especially if they are in an unhealthy or unsafe relationship.
“I had no way to get any information without alerting my spouse that I was interested in exiting the marriage,” Hill said of her own decision to seek a divorce.. “The entire process seemed so inefficient to me. I had so many questions and no safe place to get accurate information.”
That’s where Divorce Strategies Northwest steps in: Clients are able to meet and communicate confidentially with the three women in order to ask questions, access information, think about post-divorce needs, understand the process, and create a strategy, before ever seeking an attorney.
“We charge our clients a custom flat fee for all of our services, which ends up paying for itself: Attorneys tell us that the clients we send them are more organized, calmer, and have more realistic expectations about the divorce,” she said. “In fact, attorneys have started to send clients to us because it helps streamline the entire process.”
The “we” of Divorce Strategies Northwest is Hill and her two business partners, Stephanie Guarin and Lissy Des Voigne; the three have collective experience in corporate event management, finance, tax law, divorce coaching, domestic violence training and money management.
“A lot of our clients say to us, ‘You saved my friendships,’” Hill said. “We encourage people to use their friends as friends, and to work with us as a divorce resource management, which puts less stress on friendships.”
They also give recommendations about social media (avoid it), how to communicate with a spouse throughout the process of separation and divorce, and how to navigate those first holidays apart.
At the end of the day, Hill said, information is power — and Divorce Strategies Northwest provides an accessible route to the necessary information to survive a divorce.
“We show them that life on the other side of divorce doesn’t have to have a traumatic ending. We teach them that divorce can be a new beginning,” Hill said. “They need to be assured that it will be ok, their kids will survive, and they won’t be destitute at the end. They need to have confidence about their future.”
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