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Monthly events help couples navigate divorce

After more than two decades in San Diego, the Second Saturday divorce consultation service expanded to Las Vegas in November.

The goal of the service is to show women that divorce does not have to financially destroy the people involved, said organizer Jacqueline Thornhill of Landmark Divorce Solutions.

“So much of our concept of divorce comes from friends and family who may have suffered through the pitched battle of fighting for every asset or every advantage in child custody,” Thornhill said. “We focus on the bigger picture of moving a woman’s life forward in as positive manner as possible.”

A four-hour Second Saturday event every second Saturday of the month offers access to financial planning, family therapy, mediation and legal counsel.

Thornhill first got involved in the divorce business after going through her own several years ago and felt lost when she did not have help sorting out her assets or home. She was already in the financial business but wanted to become someone who could offer advice.

“Somebody who did all the things I wish I had done in the divorce,” she said.

She became a certified divorce planner in 2004.

Thornhill helps divorcing couples evaluate and create a settlement that can be brought to attorneys without a long, expensive legal battle, she said. She uses software to analyze what the financial future of each person looks like five years, 10 years and 20 years down the road.

“Over the long term, you can see one half of the party doing very well, and the other person is falling off the cliff five years from now, and we have to make adjustments if we can,” she said.

Thornhill said the event helps women create short- and long-term financial plans and discuss strategies to reach those goals. After the presentations, women have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the service providers.

“Divorce doesn’t have to be the worst thing in your life,” Thornhill said. “Women must remember, a man is not a financial plan. Lack of a plan leads to panic, and that doesn’t help anyone.”

Keri Rose, a client of Thornhill’s and a participant at November’s event, said she thought the gathering was ideal for women just entering the divorce process. She said she felt like all the bases were covered, except for career counseling.

Rose, 50 , said she has been going through a divorce for two years and is having trouble finding a job because she never went to college and spent the last 20 years as a mother, housewife and assistant to her husband’s self-run business.

Originally from Chicago, Rose said she recalls her aunt seeking career counseling after she and her husband divorced 20 years ago, and Rose said she’s been looking for similar services in Las Vegas without luck.

She paid an attorney $15,000 and got nowhere, she said, so she and her husband decided they could not keep paying attorneys and walked away in hopes of pursuing mediation.

“I think it would be great for somebody who’s just starting to think about divorce,” Rose said. “If I knew somebody, I’d say, ‘Hey, go see these women.’ ”

Family therapist and mediator Deborah Roberts is part of Thornhill’s team and said people are usually most surprised by the things they can and cannot do. She said that often, people do not know that mediation is an option. She said she thinks the one-on-one meetings after the presentations are hugely beneficial to participants.

“Many people don’t have enough information to have questions,” she said. “You have to have some information before you ask questions.”

Thornhill said the biggest misconception about divorce for women just entering it is that every case has to end in a court trial.

“There are four different ways to divorce, and only one is when you are going to end up in a court trial,” she said.

She said that typically, questions at these events focus on financial issues.

“There are a lot of questions for the attorney and the financial planner,” she said. “The money part of the divorce is really (a very) hot-button item for most divorce couples.”

Thornhill said she hopes to explore scholarships for women to attend the event in the future and would like to expand the services to men in the new year and include a parenting class.

The first class in November attracted two people, but Thornhill said she is optimistic that professionals in the valley will recommend these services to their clients. She said she hopes to have between 20 and 30 participants at future events.

“This is a community service, and our goal is to really help women through this process and give them enough resources to know that they’re not along out there,” Thornhill said.

The events cost $45 and take place at the Women’s Group Empowerment Center at the CoBiz Coworking Space, 6445 S. Tenaya Way, Suite 12. The next event is set for 8 a.m. Saturday . Coffee, water and snacks are to be provided.

For more information, visit secondsaturday.com.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Laura Phelps at lphelps@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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