Going through a divorce is like entering a new place; a place that is completely unfamiliar and unpredictable. It’s a scary place. You don’t know how things work there, you don’t know the language, mistakes can cost you—emotionally and financially, and choosing the wrong people to represent you could make a big difference in the outcome of your divorce.
When I was going through a divorce 14 years ago, I was clueless. I had never been to court for anything. I didn’t know what legal terms meant. I didn’t even know what an “order” was. I had never heard the terms, “dissolution of marriage”, “child support,” “maintenance,” or “decree.” I didn’t even know what “joint custody” really meant.
One day, after dropping off my two toddlers at preschool, I ran into one of the other moms. We started talking. She asked how I was and I just broke down. I started crying, as I told her I was going through a divorce.
Luckily for me, she happened to be an attorney. She referred me to the man who would become my divorce attorney. I think he did an OK job, but there were so many things I didn’t know back then. Had I empowered myself—taken the time to really do my homework before making hiring decisions on the professional support team I needed, I could have saved myself a lot of stress and heartbreak, not to mention money.
Back then, I needed connections. I needed recommendations from people I trusted.
So, that’s where I come in for you. Over the past 8 years of writing and managing Divorced Girl Smiling, I have met and interviewed hundreds of divorce professionals for articles I’ve written, and have learned a lot about their different styles, reputations, ethics, levels of professionalism, likability, trustworthiness, and most importantly, levels of success.
There are so many wonderful people filled with passion in the divorce industry, but there are also some unethical jerks.
For those going through a divorce, I want to introduce you with some of the wonderful ones—my 7 Divorced Girl Smiling partners. To be fully transparent, yes, they are advertisers on my site. That said, from the bottom of my heart, I think these 7 professionals are truly among the best in their fields. I would not affiliate myself with anyone I didn’t completely trust and respect.
Not only am I a client of many of these 7 people, but I know each one personally, and have been referring them to those going through a divorce for years, only to get calls and emails from the people thanking me for the connections.
So, if you are going through a divorce and you need a place to start, here are 7 names you need and why:
1. Daniel Stefani, Principal, Co-founder, Katz & Stefani
I originally met Dan Stefani almost 20 years ago. We met through friends, we live in the same community, our kids go to school together and we belonged to the same gym for a long time. Dan, who has been practicing divorce law for 27 years, is extremely well-known and well-respected in the divorce law industry, and is known for his success in litigating divorce cases. That said, I find Dan to be extremely compassionate, kind and caring to his clients. Dan has immense respect for the law, and much dedication for servicing his clients.
I have reached out to Dan over the years for consultations for my own divorce, and he has always been extremely helpful. His co-Founder, Andre Katz, as well as the other 9 partners and associates at Katz & Stefani are all unique in their specialties, and all highly regarded in the industry. One person to whom I recently referred Dan sent me a really nice note which said, “I cannot thank you enough. I don’t know what I would have done without Dan.”
2. Elaine Moss, Vice-president and Wealth Management Advisor, Vestor Capital
It’s been five years since I met Elaine Moss at a breakfast place on the North Shore, where we instantly connected and became friends. Shortly after, Vestor Capital became a Divorced Girl Smiling partner and I became a client of Vestor Capital. Elaine and her partner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Peter Mullins completed an extensive, detailed financial plan for me that was eye-opening, and paved the way for my making good life and financial decisions moving forward.
In some cases, people going through a divorce have often never been “in charge” of the family’s finances, and therefore have no idea what to do. Other times, a person doesn’t want their money invested with the same financial person they used with their soon-to-be ex. This is why it’s a good idea to talk to a couple advisors, to see if you feel like the person is a good fit for you.
Elaine has this way of making people feel comfortable and calm, which isn’t easy for a lot of people when it comes to money! Both Elaine and Peter are wonderful listeners, and they always make you feel like they are there for you, and willing to spend as much time as you need. They go out of their way to make clients feel secure, comfortable and good about their portfolios. Over the past few years, I have referred many clients to Elaine and Peter, and they’ve gotten wonderful reviews.
3. Leslie Glazier, Real Estate Agent, Certified Divorce Real Estate Specialist, @properties
Elaine introduced me to Leslie Glazier almost four years ago. Dedicating a large part of her business to a niche in helping men and women going through a divorce, Leslie became a Certified Divorce Real Estate Specialist; one of only 100 in the country and the only one in the Chicago area. Why is that important?
When going through a divorce, using a Certified Divorce Real Estate Specialist has so many advantages, and there’s no additional cost. Leslie’s certifications have taught her how to look at the whole divorce picture, so that when it comes to selling the home or one partner keeping the home, everything is taken into account-not just current market value. Divorce is complex and most agents don’t have the training to make sure real estate transactions are done fairly. Leslie does!
Not only have I referred clients to Leslie, who personally has been through a divorce, but last summer, I decided to move, and I hired Leslie to be my real estate agent. She helped me sell my home and buy my new home.
I cannot say enough about what a wonderful experience it was! From staging my house to walking me through the process each step of the way to helping me get the home I really wanted, Leslie went above and beyond. One thing I will always remember was that she stayed calm and professional, even when things went wrong. She told me not to worry, fixed them, and moved forward. Leslie truly cares about her clients and seriously never stops smiling.
4. Jason Price, co-Founder, Affiliates in Counseling
I’m pretty sure Jason Price was my first advertiser. It’s been at least 6 years. I don’t even remember how I met Jason, but I will say this. With his wisdom, his caring, compassionate demeanor, and his passion for emotional wellness, Jason has helped build a practice that is so well respected in the Chicagoland area.
With over 20 therapists, all with different specialties, Affiliates in Counseling is a practice that truly puts the client first. I have personally been a client of the practice, and know several other people who see therapists there, both for them and their children. When people are going through a divorce, therapy, both for parents and for kids is so important. I truly trust Affiliates in Counseling to meet this need.
5. Jeremy Woods, Wealth Management Lending Officer (Home Loans/Mortgages), Bank of America
When going through a divorce, one of two things usually happens: the couple sells their home and both either buy or rent a new place, or one partner buys the marital home from the other. In almost every divorce case, one or both people need a mortgage or to refinance the property. Even if you buy the marital home, you’ll have to refinance to remove your ex-spouse from your existing mortgage.
Jeremy gets what it’s like to be divorced. He’s also been in the mortgage business for more than 15 years. It’s the perfect combination for being truly wonderful at what he does. I’ve known Jeremy for about three years now, and every time I introduce him to someone, I always get an email thanking me, and telling me they plan to work with him. With the ability to service clients in any state, Jeremy is smart and driven, and truly has passion and empathy for his clients.
6. Tiffany M. Hughes, Principal, Founder, The Law Offices of Tiffany M. Hughes
Tiffany contacted me last year at the start of the pandemic. The first time we talked, I felt an instant energy and passion from her for helping men and women going through a divorce. Since last April, I have gotten to know Tiffany pretty well, and the more and more we talk, the more respect I have for her work ethic and her track record of success. It’s easy to see that Tiffany is devoted to her clients, and to making sure they walk away feeling really good about the outcome of their cases. I have recommended clients to Tiffany, and have gotten the nicest phone calls thanking me for doing so.
7. Andrea Javor, Certified Divorce Coach, Happily Better After
A few months ago, someone I know connected Andrea and I, and we talked on the phone. I just have to say, “Wow.” I was blown away by her energy and enthusiasm. Then came the writing. Andrea wrote a couple of articles for Divorced Girl Smiling which gave me a glimpse into her mindset, her coaching techniques and again, her passion for helping people going through a divorce.
When I was going through a divorce 14 years ago, divorce coaches weren’t a thing. But now, this is a blossoming industry and it makes sense. Hiring a divorce coach is like hiring a partner to help you not only get through the divorce, but to help you map out your life after divorce—to figure out what you want, what your goals are, and what will make you happy. That’s not easy to do alone! Andrea, who personally went through a divorce has this really smart sense about her, and at the same time she’s extremely warm and compassionate. Andrea recently appeared as a guest on my podcast. If you listen to it, you’ll be sold!
Ultimately, the professionals you hire is your decision and you should go with your gut feeling in choosing people you think will give you the best possible experience and achieve the best possible outcome in your divorce.
These seven people are a great place to start, in my opinion. If you want to talk to me about any of them, or you have questions, feel free to reach out to: Jackie@divorcedgirlsmiling.com.
Like this article? Check out, “20 Things I Wish I Could Have Told My Newly Separated Self”