…Estate Planning. It is equally as essential that both spouses immediately tend to a new estate plan so that all aspects of their now separate property is managed appropriately. Often the spouse is the beneficiary on an IRA account or the signatory on a health-care proxy, so completing a new estate plan must be addressed to complete the divorce process.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Storey Jones, the founder of dtour.life.
Storey Jones is the founder of dtour.life, a revolutionary new divorce management platform for spouses, lawyers, and all divorce professionals that modernizes the day-to-day workflow of divorce. Storey also writes about divorce for Thrive Global.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Two “aha” moments led me down this path that chose me. First, when navigating my own complex divorce and being confronted by a destructive legal system, I was horrified and couldn’t bear the fact that another family would go through it without the benefit of hindsight. I started helping friends and then it evolved into a divorce consultancy. Second, well over a decade into consulting, my front-row seat to the day-to-day inefficiency of the workflow catalyzed me to build a technology platform to revolutionize the process and cut out what significantly contributes to the protracted timelines, excessive cost, and adversity. This is what defined the vision for dtour.life. Family law applies to the facts, so if we can re-frame the experience and modernize the workflow, we can be empowered to manage it and work smarter with the right lawyers and divorce professionals to address the legal aspects of the transaction. This will give us the time, space, and money to address the emotional and parenting needs, new financial reality, and lifestyle.
Can you explain to our readers why you consider yourself an expert in “divorce?”
First, let’s redefine the concept of “divorce.” When we utter that horrific word, we consider it a legal transaction. We physically contract and brace for battle. But, after beginning my path as a divorce consultant back in the early 2000s, I quickly learned that divorce is one of the most significant life transitions many of us will undergo, a transition we never chose and are pushed into and one that will challenge every aspect of our social, emotional and financial lives. So, is anyone really an expert in “divorce”? I consider myself an expert in the human experience of this life transition. I have worked with hundreds of families, countless lawyers, and experts, and I am driven by a passion to shift the mindset and day-to-day workflow, which is why I leveraged my years as a consultant to build the first SaaS divorce management platform for all stakeholders in divorce.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Myth-busting is the most interesting aspect of this business. Having consulted with so many different families and having the privilege of being invited inside, I am motivated to pull back the veil on the myths we tend to carry about men and women in divorce. While there are exceptions to every rule, I have found that in most cases women simply want to know what they are legally entitled to, and they don’t want a dollar more or less, they want to know the financial facts. Men care just as much, often more, about the house as women. And, mental health does not discriminate by gender. It is an error to approach divorce, as some courts do, with a sexist attitude that all women want x and all men should have y.
What are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
The keyword here is “after” they have gone through a divorce. The question presupposes that the legal divorce transaction is complete. In that case, common mistakes include
1. Noncompliance. The Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) contains a very long list of “to-dos” for each spouse in order to comply with the terms of the settlement. These might include signing a quit-claim deed for a property, securing a QDRO for a retirement account, changing credit cards, paying certain bills, transferring funds, etc. After the settlement is signed, spouses are exhausted and don’t want to think about tackling those items, but it is essential. Many couples never do complete them and then a significant amount of cases go back to court (more time, cost, and emotion) for non-compliance.
2. Estate Planning. It is equally as essential that both spouses immediately tend to a new estate plan so that all aspects of their now separate property is managed appropriately. Often the spouse is the beneficiary on an IRA account or the signatory on a health-care proxy, so completing a new estate plan must be addressed to complete the divorce process.
3. Financial Wellness. By definition, the divorce likely affected an individual’s lifestyle, and continuing to make the same lifestyle decisions on a modified income stream is dangerous. Divorce is an opportunity to take financial control of your life and establish a short-term and long-term spending plan to remain financially healthy.
4. Managing Emotions. Signing settlement papers and then tackling #1, 2, and 3 above, requires a lot of an individual who has just ended a marriage. Some power through and others fall apart. No matter how you managed the process, it is important to get the therapeutic support you need from a professional, friends, or structured outlets to complete the process and re-enter life as a divorced man or woman who can work, parent, and consider new, healthy relationships.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
I want to stress that divorce happens to everyone– all sizes, shapes, financial, emotional, and family situations so it can never be a one-size-fits-all paradigm. The myriad of experts who opine on various subjects might have it right for one family and be irrelevant for another. Having said that, I do support everyone whose underlying message is to think differently, to be informed and empowered, and to use this detour to embrace change and possibilities. For individuals, I might suggest books such as Better Apart, by Gabrielle Hartley, or, Contemplating Divorce, the New I Do, and Stronger Day By Day by Susan Pease Gadoua. Steve Kane wrote a book with the provocative title F*ck It. Get a Divorce: The Guide for Optimists. For parents with younger children, Two Homes by Claire Masurel and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn are powerful. The list of resources is endless, so it is important to search for the category, be it finance, emotion, heartbreak, mental health, co-parenting, etc.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that helped you in this work? Can you share how that was relevant in your real life?
The importance of “Walking a mile in someone’s shoes” really took on a different meaning when I began consulting for people during the most challenging time in their lives. It is so easy to judge one’s relationship choices, parenting choices, spending choices, and how they manage the horrific divorce process, but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. And, it is simply none of our business. We have to withhold judgment and allow families to move through the end of a relationship and into a new life with support. No one suffers more than the individuals and the piling on of judgment, gossip, and innuendos by family, friends, colleagues, and the community does nothing but compound the difficulty and hold everyone back, including the children, from personal growth and success.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The dtour.life platform launched with features to change the day-to-day divorce transactional process, but we know that much of the destruction in divorce is due, in part, to the lack of understanding about the financial terms of the marriage contract. We also know that after divorce families are left unsupported with mountains of work to do and emotions to manage, and we know that families with children have a lifelong (no it doesn’t end at age 18) requirement to effectively co-parent, so dtour.life is actively building features to further support divorcing families and divorce professionals in these areas.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Transformation of the divorce mindset, process, and experience is a movement that is underway and I am privileged to be a part of it.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Noah Baumbach. Marriage Story is a revelation in the way divorce is portrayed and finally allows us to stop sugar-coating for comedic or dramatic effect the true toll the legal system can take on individuals. Story-telling is an important avenue to consciousness and eventually change and this movie cannot have been easy to script, direct, and frankly, sell to the mainstream, but it is a hugely important piece that will make a difference.