Helping women through divorce
By Angela Bender For The Sun February 28, 2013 11:50AM
Deborah Theus lived in Naperville when she was going through her divorce, which was finalized in 2011 after being married for 18 years. | submitted
Learn more about 360 Refresh, 28381 Davis Parkway, suite 701A, Warrenville, at www.360refresh.com or 866-360-8911
Updated: April 4, 2013 6:22AM
For women facing divorce, whether or not of their own volition, the type of support they receive and need is as varied as the women going through the experience. Some women need financial advice, others are seeking the right legal council and others may be looking for emotional support. Many need some combination of it all, but do not know where to turn.
“Women are known not to take care of their needs,” said Dr. Fatima Ali, clinical director of the outpatient program at Linden Oaks Hospital, “It is important not to rush the decision and try to make all possible interventions before taking the step (to file for divorce).”
Ali says many women tend to start out by confiding in friends and family, which may or may not be the best emotional support.
“Family and friends tend to be biased and sometimes they rush you into a decision that you may regret later on,” Ali said.
She suggests women find a therapist who can be objective but can also assess for symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, which are treatable causes that can make a big difference in relationships. A therapist can also meet with the husband to get a better perspective of the situation and make appropriate interventions.
Deborah Theus lived in Naperville as she was going through her divorce, which was finalized in 2011 after being married for 18 years. She found the assistance of a therapist to be extremely helpful.
“She helped me come to terms that I needed to get out (of my marriage),” said Theus, who had tried to leave her marriage many times. “She showed me … I was stuck. She helped me get to the decision (to divorce) on my own so any regrets would be my fault, not hers.”
Theus also found beneficial the assistance of a child therapist who helped with custody arrangements and issues with her two children, whom she felt struggled emotionally more than she did.
And while Theus was happy with her choice of therapist, she did not feel as satisfied with her choice of lawyer, who should be able to give clients advice on financial rights, challenges and child custody issues, according to Ali. Theus said she felt stuck with her lawyer after investing a substantial amount of money and time.
“I wish in hindsight after going through all this I had a better resource to find a really talented lawyer,” Theus said. “I experienced too much frustration (and a) lack of advocate for me (and) my situation. I became disillusioned and disappointed.”
Providing access to resources and support available is the goal of 360 Refresh, which was opened about a year ago in Warrenville as a source for women contemplating, going through, or already having finalized a divorce. The business, founded by Travis Francis, helps women psychologically, financially and legally by partnering with local businesses in the western suburbs.
Francis, a financial planner by trade, saw many women leave his practice because their ex-husbands had originally retained him. He researched the idea for 360 Refresh by interviewing 110 women of divorce.
“All women said during the divorce process at one point or another, they felt they were being taken advantage of,” Francis said. “We’re about helping them, educating and empowering them to make an informed decision.”
Theus agreed that it is was difficult to discern what was in her best interest, when many of the professionals guiding her through the divorce process refer each other back and forth. She also wished she had been aware of resources, support groups and seminars for women facing divorce. These types of groups, according to Ali, can help women to not rush into divorce, examine all possible interventions, assist through the process and help with recommendations.
Financially, Theus, who returned to work in anticipation of the divorce, found that a financial neutral helped divide assets and debt fairly in a collaborative process. She says that, while the expense of lawyers, therapy and splitting of assets as she supports herself and her children, has created definite financial fallout, through the process she learned how to become self-reliant.
“Coming out the other end, now I’ve got a confidence that I didn’t have before because now I am on my own,” Theus said. “I’m very happy. I think (divorce) is a very good, healthy thing when it’s necessary.”