Workshop guides Houston women to a good divorce
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Going through a divorce is rarely easy. The process for many can seem daunting and emotionally draining. For those who experience confusion, anger, depression or self-blame, those feelings don’t disappear once the divorce is final. Those were just some of the waves of emotions Houston resident Juliette Haegglund felt in the middle of her divorce almost four years ago.

She met her ex-husband on a vacation in Southeast Asia. She said during the honeymoon phase everything was as she imagined, until three years into the relationship she noticed a shift. She recalled one rough patch when she was abandoned by her former spouse for six months when she was pregnant with her son.

“I felt like I lost myself for a long time and I had to evaluate what I wanted out of life and what truly mattered to me,” Haegglund said. “So, by the time I got divorced I knew exactly how I wanted to redefine my life but I was not prepared for how stressful and painful the divorce process was. It was contentious and messy.”

Juliette Haegglund, A Guide To Good Divorce attendee.

Instead of dwelling on her hardship, she attended a seminar in Houston called the Guide to Good Divorce, which helped her learn to successfully navigate her divorce in a safe and healthy way. That is where she met the founder Trey Yates, a board-certified family law attorney, who help change the trajectory of her life.

“I’ve been practicing family law for about 37 years and the laws of divorce in Texas are slammed against women,” Yates said. “Women have to go in knowing that the odds are stacked against you. I don’t think lawyers are empathetic listeners and it’s frustrating for women to go through a process and they feel like they are not heard, so I came up with this seminar to empower women to successfully navigate the divorce process through this holistic experience.”

 The Guide to Good Divorce focuses on five key areas in which participants:

  1. Acquire legal advice
  2. Engage in divorce financial planning
  3. Gain new life skills
  4. Practice wellness
  5. Create new communities

The format of the seminar includes experts in divorce financial planners, therapists, Tibetan bowl meditation, and a community building component. It is also structured in a way to protect women with abusive spouses.

Divorce can impact an individual’s overall health and such physical effects can go unaddressed and unrecognized. Research by the National Institute of Health highlights four risks for women: Higher economic need and restricted earning capacities in the presence of children; insufficient child maintenance; disproportionate loss of income, which is often not fully compensated by spousal maintenance; and human capital deficits resulting from gender specialization in the division of labor during marriage.

“After 30 years of marriage, my husband left me for another woman…I did not want my divorce,” said Carolyn, a program attendee in a video testimonial. “I didn’t know anything about the law, didn’t know what rights I had, what things I shouldn’t do…the first step to me realizing and taking charge my life…was going there [the program], to hear from other women and also getting a glimpse of what my legal journey was going to be.”

“As women, especially Black women, we are the caretakers and we put everyone first except for ourselves. There is no much stigma around divorce and I’m here to tell you that you aren’t a failure,” Haegglund said. “Because of this program I took my power back. I have a growing family…something my ex-husband didn’t want after our first child, and I bought a house that is child-friendly. I made the right decision.”

Here is the 2022 Guide to Good Divorce seminar schedule: 

Saturday, April 30, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Houstonian Hotel, 111 N. Post Oak Lane 

Saturday, July 30, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Houstonian

Saturday, Sept. 24, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Houstonian

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...