As someone with little personal experience dealing with divorce, I didn’t think that I would be working alongside divorce professionals during the second semester of my college career at Villanova. My service as conference coordinator allows me to work remotely. While this flexibility is perfect for my busy academic calendar, with my job search also taking up a fair amount of time, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet a lot of the individuals involved in the 2018 Make Divorce Healthier Committee.
That being said, attending the recent Meetup breakfast session at Marokko in Ardmore was the perfect introduction to the larger group involved in the MDH Symposium. I had an opportunity to talk to executive committee member, Shellee Buchanan, during the Meetup. Shellee began her legal career as a divorce attorney but eventually moved to be a divorce coach. She affirmed the importance not only sustaining the connections you already have but also taking the initiative to continue building new ones when networking.
As the session’s facilitator, Shellee framed the conversation by discussing how difficult divorce can be for all the actors involved. During this breakfast sessions alone, there were financial planners, divorce coaches and lawyers, mediators, and real estate professionals. And this is only a fraction of the types of professionals who will be attending the Symposium this coming April. One of the participants didn’t know about the symposium before this meeting, which goes to show that every little bit of advertising and planning can bring more people in the discussion of Making Divorce Healthier.
One point that particularly interested me was how few prospective individuals facing divorce seem to know about mediation as an alternative. From what it seems, based off my little knowledge of divorce law, mediated and facilitated divorce seems to be the more financially sound and less intense course of action to take. And this is what the MDH Symposium seeks to bring to light.
The focus of this session was looking at the MDH framework and further defining the guiding principles of a healthy divorce and best practices for divorce professionals. This framework serves as the exoskeleton of the Symposium. In every group discussion, there was talk about how to best integrate technology, how to better market mediation and collaborative law, and how to educate clients to better understand their options. The purpose of improving perceptions around divorce enables clients to be their own advocates. Yet, there is no simple and direct answer. What matters at the end of the day is that everybody’s rights are protected, and everybody’s dignity is respected. That’s why I love the law. That’s why I hope to go to law school in the future. This Symposium seems to be a step in the right direction because it helps inform how professionals can improve their practices.
Fares Sukkar is the Make Divorce Healthier Symposium conference coordinator and a a Senior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science with minors in Spanish, the Humanities, and Peace and Justice Studies.
Connect with Fares on LinkedIn.