LOS ANGELES – Divorce is rarely easy and the process has been made even more complicated during the pandemic.
“It’s a really hard thing to do alone," said Bob Vona, founder and CEO of Vesta. "Through COVID, it makes it tremendously more difficult because all the other stressors and burdens of losing jobs or dealing with kids at home 24 hours a day, educating them.”
Vesta: A New Vision for Divorce was created to empower people to make sound, rational and healthy decisions before signing on the dotted line of their divorce, says Vona.
Vona and his two co-founders have all been impacted by the many hardships of divorce, with one founder spending over $150,000 in legal fees during her five-year divorce.
“Most people are not prepared for divorce," said Vona.
With hubs around the country, Vesta divorce professionals provide free education. The teams are made up of attorneys, realtors, financial advisors, therapists, and divorce and parenting coaches.
"It impacted negatively every single aspect in my life, financially, certainly emotionally – I mean, the process almost broke me," said Nikki Bruno, who went through a divorce five years ago.
While Bruno knew divorce would be difficult, she never imagined the extent of pain and trauma it would bring for the next three years.
“It’s a financial process, a business deal, it’s a legal process, it’s an emotional process," said Bruno.
But after attending a Vesta event, Bruno says she finally didn't feel so alone.
"The primary emotion was I felt relieved. And I also felt a little bit more grounded and a little bit more powerful because of the information," said Bruno.
The vetted professionals pay a fee to be on the Vesta team, allowing attendees to attend the events free of charge. Many end up hiring a professional that fits their needs.
Vesta moved its platform online during the pandemic and has seen a spike in clients; 4,500 so far, compared to 1,500 this time last year.
Vesta has hubs in Massachusetts, Southern California, Rhode Island and most recently, Scottsdale, Arizona. The company has plans to create additional hubs in Philadelphia and Long Island.
“Attorneys from coast to coast, Massachusetts to California, are estimating that if you’re going through a divorce right now, and brand new to the separation process, it’s a minimum of two years before you’re going to get through the divorce process," said Vona.
But Vona says couples don't have to wait for the courts to begin their divorce and that Vesta professionals are helping couples begin the process through agreements.
Bruno’s divorce inspired her to switch career paths, pivoting from a leadership coach to a divorce and empowerment coach.
Through her program, The Epic Comeback, Bruno helps provide a comeback path to people sidelined by divorce, illness or loss.
She says divorce doesn’t define a person and with work, it’s possible to come out better on the other side.
“Like it or not, divorce is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to start over," said Bruno.