Divorce Expo offers couples way to get advice on breaking up
By David sharos For The Sun August 18, 2012 5:38PM
Dr. Rose Moten presents her seminar entitled "Surviving Divorce While Rediscovering You" during the Divorce Expo at Hotel Arista in Naperville, Ill., on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 20, 2012 6:19AM
There is a lot more to divorce than just saying goodbye.
That was evident at the unique Divorce Expo held at the Hotel Arista in Naperville Saturday.
The event, put together by Split Partners, a company based out of Michigan, offered help for those looking to salvage or perhaps end their marriage.
The all-day expo kicked off at 8:30 a.m. and included a series of workshops on managing money during a divorce, parenting on your own, the legal aspects of divorce and more.
Joost Allard, principal of Split Partners, said that to his knowledge this was a cutting edge event the likes of which “have been held less than a handful of times so far throughout the country.”
“We had our first expo this spring in Detroit, and so this one is only our second,” Allard said. “We drew about 130 people at our first one, with the majority of people being walk-ups because a lot of people haven’t told their spouse about the possibility of splitting up or they don’t want someone to see a bill on a credit card and wonder what it was.”
Naperville resident Katie Kanney was like many attending the Divorce Expo.
“I never expected to be here,” she said of the event.
She spoke bravely about her struggles to emerge from a 15-year marriage with an aftermath that included drinking and depression.
“I’ve been involved with the divorce issues now for 10 months,” Kanney said. “There have been physical, mental and emotional issues. I’ve worked through the physical and mental parts of this, and now I’m looking at the emotional side and the hurt feelings.”
Events like the expo can help in a way by bringing the issues of divorce into the spotlight. Kanney said many times, family and friends only get part of the story when a divorce happens.
“I read in a book called ‘The Breakup Bible’ that there is a story and a history behind (every) divorce,” she said.
“The story is the part you tell people, but there is also a history behind that.”
The expo offered a wide variety of events because divorce is a very complex issue with many angles to it, organizers said.
Allard said speakers and exhibitors for the event ranged from local professionals that Naperville residents would know to outsiders who could offer unique perspectives on a variety of issues.
“People are dealing with everything from a loss of self-confidence and trying to figure out how to get it back to employment, working with a reduced budget, and still being a parent even though someone is divorced,” he said. “We also have divorce coaches that have become very popular.”
Naperville resident Connie Walsh was on hand to represent her company Walsh Financial and its branch business Divorce Solutions. Walsh said she began offering financial mediation, planning, and litigation services 10 years ago based on her own experiences.
“I was divorced in 1999 and made a lot of mistakes, which is one of the reasons I got into this area of the business,” Walsh said. “I’m a certified financial planner and I went through a lot of the same issues myself. There are so many financial issues that affect retirement and too many people would come to me after their divorce, which is the wrong time when you have to make these huge decisions.”
A real need
Participants at the expo agreed that there is a need for a wide variety of divorce-related services, especially given the divorce rate in the country.
“The statistics about marriages in this country seldom waiver much between 49 and 51 percent in terms of the marriages that fail,” said Kimberly Kick of Libertyville-based Divorce Communications.
Divorce Communications offers Internet-based services for those going through the divorce process.
“I do counseling as well as operate this business and I encourage people to work and stay together,” she said. “But if they can’t, at least a service like this keeps kids out of the communication process and lets them be kids while their parents adapt and learn coping techniques.”
Oak Brook’s JMG Financial principal David Morgan said he also believes there is a need for services his firm offers.
“I think a lot of people got into this business of helping divorced people because they are passionate about it and not because they stand to make a lot of money,” Morgan said. “People come to us because too many times, one person handled a lot of the bills and money and the other person in the marriage didn’t understand a lot of what went on. We try to step in and help those people make smart decisions.”