Five years ago, John Hoelle and Peter Fabish set out to change the way people divorce. This month is the 5-year anniversary of Conscious Family Law & Mediation.
The traditional marriage anniversary gift is wood. Wood connotes the strength, rootedness, and expanse of a tree. It symbolizes a partnership that has begun to develop into a long-lasting bond.
It is the intention of Conscious Family to remain rooted in our values, strong in our commitment to serving the community, and expansive as we spread our reach beyond Boulder in order to change the way people divorce.
In honor of the five years John and Peter have put into rooting and growing Conscious Family, I asked the entire staff to share the most profound reflections and bits of wisdom they’ve learned serving clients navigating divorce throughout their tenure at the firm. Here’s what they had to say:
John Hoelle, Co-Founder: "What I’ve found is that when I hold good space in mediation for divorcing couples to be cooperative, and hold the expectation that they will cooperate, they tend to rise up and cooperate. Because they're facilitated through challenging conversations together, they come out equipped with a model for how to work through challenges in the future, and are empowered with a felt sense that they can cooperate. This is especially important for parents, who typically don't have to come back for support when disagreements arise concerning their children."
Peter Fabish, Co-Founder: “One thing going through a divorce often teaches is that life can be humbling. What I think is transformative is to take on the value that life may be humbling by design. By humility I mean primarily (1) an increasing understanding how many things I do not understand, that I do not know, or that I may be wrong about; (2) an ability to acknowledge other people's right to hold perspectives different from my own, and to see the value in trying to understand and respect those perspectives; (3) an increasing understanding of how little I actually have control over; and (4) an ability to care about anything other than my own interests. Real humility is healthy; it is distinguishable from 'shadow' states like shame or low self esteem. In my experience, people with real humility tend to embody an equal measure of dignity: e.g. having healthy self-confidence, healthy boundaries, and a willingness to speak or take a stand when called for. These, again, can be distinguished from 'shadow' states of dignity such as arrogance or over-aggressiveness. The bottom line is, if life brings me circumstances that present me the opportunity to step out of the shadows of humility and dignity and into healthy humility and dignity, I at least don't want to miss that opportunity. Even if it's hard for me to be grateful for it.”
Janette Jordan, Senior Attorney: “I'm aware of the human, emotional, and financial toll of divorce and litigation. Being a litigator means both advocating for the client and telling clients the truth about the potential cost of making decisions from places of pain and resentment. I'm privileged to be able to assist my clients' transition through the divorce process, and it’s an honor to witness clients come out the other side stronger, more confident and better than they were before.”
Amy Stengel, Associate Attorney/Mediator: “Clients often (and understandably) come in at the start wanting to be finished with the divorce process as soon as possible so that they can move on with their lives. Their desire to be finished has the potential to lead people to agree to things in terms of division of property, spousal support and parenting issues that may not be in their best interest or their children's best interest. That is where trusting in the feedback and guidance from your divorce professional is often so crucial to avoiding long-term challenges. It's sort of akin to pregnancy...very few people want to be pregnant for nine months but that time is what allows us to gradually become ready for parenthood and prepare for the enormous life change that we are about to undertake. The divorce process is similar; people usually need more time than they would like to allow in order to reach agreements that are going be sustainable and practical in the years to come, and to more fully accept the momentous shift that will come with their new normal.”
Jean Pumplin, Paralegal: “No matter how crazy a situation seems, you have to remember that people are really just trying to take care of themselves in the best way they know how. People may show up with their baggage and their pain, and they may behave badly, but I whole-heartedly believe that people do what they do with their best intentions of taking care of themselves. In my service to this firm, and as another human on this planet, coming from that belief helps me hold space and compassion for our clients. By holding that belief, people are able to relax into their process as much as they can because I’m not judging them.”
Dawnia Dresser, Operations Manager: “It’s really important to have a safe container, including knowledgeable guides and a compassionate environment to navigate one of the most difficult times of your life. And with that you get to reap the benefits…at a minimum, there is less scorched earth between you and your spouse, and in the highest, you have the possibility of growth and transformation. This is especially crucial if you have kids.”
Jessie Hilb, Client Services: “It’s a privilege to work for a law firm whose commitment is to “changing the way people divorce.” As a mom, and divorcee myself, I can relate to what people go through when they walk through these doors. I have so much compassion for the fact that it is necessary to walk through shadows to get to the light on the other side. It’s an honor to support clients as best we can to clear the cobwebs so that they can have a healthy, functional co-parenting relationship on the other side of divorce."
It is not only our ideals that have informed us about what it means to be “conscious,” it is the clients we serve and their ability to be present with each other and their lives that teach us the meaning of the word conscious.
More so than anything, Conscious Family would like to express deep gratitude to our clients (present, past, and future), and to the wonderful community of professionals with whom we collaborate daily. We thank you for your support, and for the trust you place in us to usher you through one of life’s biggest challenges. It is a privilege to witness you and to usher you through to the other side.