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Smart tips for helping your children as they head back to school

It’s tough enough for kids to go back to school, and it’s even harder for the children of parents who are separated or divorcing. Kids may worry that their lives will change dramatically or that they will be forced to move away. Toss in the butterflies that come with a new school year, and your child may be more stressed than you realize.

Here are 5 key things parents can do make the transition back to school easier, when everything else about the family is in transition:

Talk to your child about what he/ she is feeling.Divorce can affect a child’s behavior, well-being and even academic achievement. Look for signs of depression, withdrawal, or behavior and other issues. And, be sure to talk to your child about what they’re feeling. There are resources available if you or your child need professional help (Catholic Services, Jewish Family & Child Services, Parents without Partners, Rainbows, Up to Parents, a therapist for you or your child).. Help your children overcome these symptoms, and get them the help they need.

Reassure your child you love him/her. . It is natural for a child to worry if he/she is loved or if he/she was somehow to blame for the divorce. Ensure your child knows he/she is not to blame–and that he/she is very loved.

Make time to answer his/her questions. Your child may have a ton of questions that he/she is dying to know. Set aside time for those questions, perhaps during or following your child’s favourite activity. You can always start the ball rolling if they are quiet: “If I were you, I’d want to know where I will be living….”

Try and maintain a normal after-school schedule. Just because your child’s home life is different doesn’t mean his school life has to be. Ensure he is participating in the activities he wants to, over worries about cutting into “mom’s time” or “dad’s time.” The goal is to put your child’s best interest first.

To read the rest of this article which appeared in The Huffington Post, click on the link:

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Separation and Divorce: The ABC’s of Helping Your Family cope with change

Please click on the link to listen to my conversation with Sara Dimerman, a therapist and parenting coach who interviewed me about The Smart Divorce.

Click here to listen –

Over the course of this seminar you will learn more about:

  • The normal range of mixed emotion you will experience after the separation.
  • The most common mistakes that parents unintentionally make with their children after the separation.
  • The most important factors to keep in mind in order for your children to be least affected by the changes to your family.
  • The best ways to respond to your children’s most common questions such as “will daddy ever come live with us again?” and “do you still love mommy?”
  • How to cope with the changes to your social life: what’s there to do when you’re feeling lonely on a Saturday night.
  • The domino effect: how to deal with friends and family who are feeling the impact of the changes too.
  • When, where and how to introduce your children to a new partner.
  • Resources and supports available to you.
To hear other topics and interviews by Sara Dimerman, click on the link

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Why has the divorce rate risen so high?

The evolution of the

high divorce rate

The Canadian divorce rate has risen over 1,000 per cent over the last 50 years. Find out why.

Deborah Moskovitch

Have you ever stopped to ponder why the divorce rate has risen so dramatically over the past 50 years? When my parents married in the 1950s the divorce rate was minimal. According to Statistics Canada, in 1951 there were only 5,270 divorces in all of Canada. The number rose dramatically to a staggering 70,226 divorces in 2008 – a whopping 1,232% increase in total divorces over 50 years. This compares with an increase in the total population of only 139%. Divorce was a rare event previous to the first world war with a rate of less than one per 1,000 of the yearly number of marriages, says Stats Can.

There has been significant progress in divorce reform making it easier and fairer to obtain. Researchers would most likely agree that not only has divorce become more socially acceptable, but divorce laws have also changed to provide a more equitable resolution for many since the late 1960s. The amendment to the Divorce Act to permit the reason for divorce as no-fault (in other words, no-blame divorce) has radically altered the factors influencing the decision to divorce.

In other words divorce has become less of a stigma, you don’t have to prove fault, and there is more fairness in addressing financial concerns for the disadvantaged spouse.  In addition, there has been extensive research on the impact of divorce upon the family, children, social outcomes and so much more. This learning has enabled the development of more effective resources to help the divorcing individual. No longer does one feel forced to stay in a marriage when there is a serious breach of trust, or any kind abuse. These are very positive outcomes of divorce reform.

The grass isn’t always greener, so why the high divorce rate?

But, knowing what we do — that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, that divorce can be hard on children, lifestyle is often diminished, and the divorce rate rises with each subsequent marriage — why is the divorce rate still so high? Has the traditional wedding vow promising to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health until death do us part lost its meaning? Or, have expectations about marriage and what we want out of a partner changed over the years, resulting in this dramatic rise in divorce.

Choosing to divorce is certainly not an easy decision. For most, the decision to divorce is a result of a great deal of soul searching and questioning. While the legal system for divorce is far from perfect, it is significantly better than it was in the 1950s. But, upon closer examination, it appears that changing attitudes towards relationships and marriage have impacted the divorce rate over the last 50 years. I spoke with one of the foremost sociologists and researchers in North America, Dr. Paul Amato, who has conducted extensive research on marital quality and stability.

The 1950s and “companionate marriage”

I learned that to better understand divorce, you need to understand marriage and the attitudes towards each have changed and impacted these momentous decisions. Dr. Amato states that marriage in the 50s and 60s was called the “companionate” marriage. The feature of a companionate marriage was the idea of successful teamwork. That is, husbands and wives got married because they wanted to work as a team to accomplish a lot of important life goals — like running a home, being economically secure, raising a family and so on. Those marriages weren’t perfect; they weren’t egalitarian because the husband was the head of the household. Nevertheless the assumption was that each partner was expected to sacrifice something of their own for the success of the team, and that marriage was more important than the individual.

The reason people get married today

To read the whole article click on the link below:

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Deborah Talks: How to be Smart About Divorce with Justice Harvey Brownstone

Once of the reasons I became a divorce consultant and educator is because I believe in the importance of divorce education.  My career evolved and has become my passion and mission since writing The Smart Divorce.  Getting through my divorce was not easy; it was full of emotion, and needless to say significant legal bills.  I wrote the book so that I could share my pain and others could heal from the lessons. The Smart Divorce provides wisdom from over 100 of North America’s foremost divorce professionals, so that others could be empowered with knowledge – and save time, money and their sanity.

I have been fortunate that my message not only continues to be endorsed, but promoted by so many professionals in the divorce arena.  They further assist with my divorce education on the many aspects of the divorce process — on topics from putting your children’s best interest first to finances, from managing your emotions to rebuilding your life post-divorce and so much more.  And, they provide a forum for me to share this learning.


My role model for taking risks and being a trailblazer in the divorce arena is Justice Harvey Brownstone. Justice Brownstone is an outspoken Judge who speaks passionately about divorce, families and the impact on society without hesitation. Educating the public about divorce, and other family matters seems to be his mission. I was honored to be a guest on the show for another guest appearance this summer.  I was first interviewed when the show premiered last year. For a preview of what we discussed in my second interview, click on the link below.

And, to hear the first interview click on this link below:


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Mistakes We Make During Divorce and How to Avoid Them

This time the spots are switched, I’m interviewed by my c o-host Steve Peck on his show, Divorce Source Radio. Tune in to hear the mistakes often made during divorce.

Divorce is an extremely emotional time in our life and under stress, we don’t always make the right choices.

The legal system is confusing and frightening and we sometimes let our anger get the best of us creating a battle with our soon to be ex that can last a lifetime and affect the lives of our children and our finances.

In this episode, DSR host Steve Peck, speaks with Divorce Consultant and author of The Smart Divorce, Deborah Moskovitch on how to avoid costly mistakes during divorce.

Listening to this show if you are new to the process of divorce can save you thousands of dollars in legal expenses, the relationship with your children and your sanity.

Click on the link below to hear the interview, to save time, money– and your sanity.

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Divorce Pranks: You Might Think its Funny, Will the Judge?

Divorce pranks: You might think it’s funny, but the judge won’t laugh

A boulder topped with a pink ribbon and covered in a spray-painted message: "Happy birthday, Isa." sits in the driveway of Isabelle Prevost, Monday, August 15, 2011, in Acton Vale, Que. - A boulder topped with a pink ribbon and covered in a spray-painted message: "Happy birthday, Isa." sits in the driveway of Isabelle Prevost, Monday, August 15, 2011, in Acton Vale, Que. | THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Divorce pranks: You might think it’s funny, but the judge won’t laugh


From Friday’s Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 5:24PM EDT

It was with great reluctance that Dany Larivière hauled away the boulder he’d gleefully dumped on his ex-wife’s driveway just a day earlier.

Plucked from a quarry and lugged by front-end loader in the dead of night Monday, the 20-ton rock was spray-painted with fluorescent orange birthday wishes for “Isa,” then topped with a pink bow.

“She never had a rock big enough for her tastes, now she has one,” Mr. Larivière quipped to the local paper in St-Théodore-d’Acton, Que., where he is also mayor.

The prank got international attention and earned Mr. Larivière possible mischief and harassment charges – another ugly turn in his lengthy, acrimonious split from former wife Isabelle Prévost.

“I thought of Sisyphus as I read the story,” said Harold Niman, a family lawyer with Niman Zemans Gelgoot. “It’s part of the ongoing struggle that one of the people is having with their perceived wrongs, within the marriage or within the judicial system or otherwise. This is them acting out in the only way they know how to, and it’s not something they’re going to be contrite about later.”

While boulder dumping may be a unique tactic (Mr. Larivière owns an excavation company), divorce “pranks” are all too common.

“Couples who are going through a divorce process are quite often temporarily insane,” says family lawyer Phil Epstein of Epstein Cole. “It’s the worst time in their lives and sometimes the pressure gets to them and they do things they wouldn’t normally do.”

Like taking hammers and screwdrivers to a spouse’s car when it is discovered “in a compromising position,” parked in front of the mistress’s house, Mr. Epstein says.

“People have taken chainsaws to inanimate objects,” the lawyer offers casually, adding that others prefer to strew their exes’ lawns with garbage or play hide-and-seek with precious items.

“Another favourite of course is what we call death by credit card,” Mr. Epstein says. “Right after separation, somebody hasn’t cancelled the

credit card and the other spouse goes on a tear, so you’ll see [bills from] European Jewellery, Chanel.” Then there’s the spousal-support cheque: Many spouses will scribble vulgarities on the cheque, which the ex must then endorse to get the money. Some are more inventive: “I’ve seen people staple spiders to a support cheque – a tarantula,” says Mr. Epstein.Wine is another tool in spousal warfare, especially since the wine lover may have been forced to move out, leaving the cellar behind temporarily.

“I’ve heard of people with such rage that they go downstairs to the cellar, steam off all the labels and then mix up the bottles,” says McCarthy Tétrault family lawyer Stephen Grant. “If you think you’re drinking a $30 bottle of Côtes du Rhône and it turns out you’re drinking a $300 Château Lafite with hamburgers one night instead of filet, it’s quite upsetting.”

Mr. Niman recalls a wine-collecting husband who returned from a tryst to find his wife in the street, emptying his bottles down a sewer grate. “Not quite as bad as cutting off his penis, I suppose, but I guess it’s figuratively doing that, isn’t it?” says Mr. Niman.

While Mr. Larivière’s boulder stunt has been widely treated as a gag, the recipient rarely sees it that way.

“They see this as an invasion of privacy, that their spouse is unhinged,” says Mr. Epstein. “It makes them … ask the question: ‘If you dump a rock on my property, what else are you capable of doing?’ ”

Mr. Larivière’s three-year split from his wife has seethed with animosity: Ms. Prévost had harassed him, threatening to report him to tax authorities unless he gave her cash payments and real estate, he said. She, meanwhile, accused the mayor of physical and verbal abuse and said she feared for her two children when Mr. Larivière won joint custody after the couple finally divorced last year.

“This story is a powerful example of how family litigation can leave an enduring legacy of bitterness, despite the outcome,” says Victoria Smith, a collaborative lawyer and mediator. “This is not a joke – this was retribution, this was a public humiliation of the wife, despite the fact that the court case ended last year and the husband won joint custody.”

As for the couple’s children, a 12-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl, “Imagine them waking up to find a boulder in their mother’s driveway, their driveway,” says Ms. Smith.

So why do spouses do it?

“The party that is pranking really feels like they are the victim. They’re not getting the vindication they’re looking for,” particularly in the division of assets, says Deborah Moskovitch, divorce consultant and author of The Smart Divorce.

According to mediator and divorce coach Deborah Mecklinger, betrayal is the main motivator, “whether that’s having done away with all of the family’s funds or absconding for another person.” She says the mayor’s much-celebrated ruse was the “ultimate power play.”

“It represented what a person who has a sense of limits may fantasize about but not put into action,” she says, adding: “Clearly it touches a place that many people imagine and wish that they could go to with their ex.”

But while pranks can bring temporary euphoria to the mischievous spouse, they can also have dire consequences for litigation and spousal support.

“All these things typically backfire. They’ll look very bad to a judge,” says Mr. Grant, who urges his clients to take the high road.

Ms. Mecklinger agrees, saying: “When somebody ups the ante, get out of the ring.”

So which is the more vindictive of the sexes? None of the experts wants to say.

“I don’t think anybody has the monopoly on that,” Mr. Niman offers. “The saying ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ is probably no longer accurate. It’s hell hath no fury like a spouse scorned.”

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One Man’s Exploration into His Multiple Divorces

Digging Deep……and interview with Boyd Lemon on The Smart Divorce

In this episode of The Smart Divorce, our guest is Boyd Lemon, a retired lawyer, who reinvented himself as a writer, discusses his memoir Digging Deep:  A Writer Uncovers His Marriages.  This memoir is written with brutal honesty about the process of coming to understand himself and the failure of his marriages.  Boyd’s coming of age as a highly paid lawyer provides insight  into the Mad Man like excesses of the seventies. 

Topics in this program include:

  • Mistakes and lessons learned from each marriage and three divorces
  • How the children were affected by each divorce
  • Sex, drink and rock n’ roll – the impact on marriage and divorce
  • The importance of introspection
  • Exploring the relationships of ex wives

To listen, click on the link

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Idea Of ‘Divorce 101’ Angers Many Happily Married Men

Nobody marries with the expectation of divorce–but as many as five out of ten marriages end up that way today. With these statistics in mind, a growing number of women are taking steps to prepare for the worst. It’s a growing trend among happily married women that has some men fuming. CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reports.

Jeff Landers talk about protecting you assets.

To learn more about preparing yourself financially, you won’t want to miss this interview on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio.

Our guest, Jeffery Landers advocates for women. Jeff is a Divorce Financial Strategist and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, a divorce financial strategy firm that exclusively works with women, who are going through, or might be going through, a financially complicated divorce.  Jeff reviews the Top 6 Serious Financial Mistakes Women Make.  But, men can learn some valuable lessons here as well.  Jeff advises “put your emotions on the side and think financially.”

Topics in this program include:

  • The top 6 serious financial mistakes made during divorce
  • The important steps to organize your finances and maintain control
  • Preparing for your financial future
  • Financial considerations to ensure long term financial stability
  • How to avoid divorce settlement mistakes
  • Divorce proofing your business

Click on the link to hear this very informative discussion


How to avoid blended family break ups

Blending families without thought are one of the most common reasons for marriages to fail. This article appeared on The Huffington Post and

Do you remember The Brady Bunch? Mike Brady marries Carol Martin; they each bring into this second marriage three children (three boys, three girls), and this blended family of eight live happily ever after. And don’t forget Alice, the live-in housekeeper, keeping it all together and running smoothly. Little conflict, lots of love, and always fun.

But alas, that was the early 70s. It was a time of love, light and humanity. Four decades later, people still yearn for love, but we’ve become a fast food culture where decisions are made at lightening speed, and consequences are an afterthought.

Case in point: my friend Annie. Divorced for seven years and raising two children on her own, she was at a New Year’s dinner party when she met Gary, who had been divorced for three years with two children. Eleven months later, after an incredible whirlwind relationship, they were in the judges’ chambers exchanging wedding vows. Within 30 minutes a new family unit was formed. Sounds wonderful, but the Brady Bunch union it was not.

When Annie and Gary pledged to be together forever, a new family dynamic was thrust upon their children. The children now became step-siblings, barely knew each other, and were used to different households. This was not one big happy family; there was conflict, chaos and frustration. The children did not get along well, were used to different sets of house rules, study habits, and different monthly allowances.

Sandy Shuler, a social worker and certified Canadian family educator in Calgary (, advises clients that when blending a family, the first thing they should do is not to have preconceived ideas and unrealistic expectations about what the family is going to look like.

“Every family is unique in terms of the way it looks and the way it operates. Expecting that there is going to be an instant connection and bonding situation when there are children involved can lead to disappointment and challenges,” Shuler says. “Just because the adults are thrilled about the idea of merging does not mean that the children are, so the adults need to go into the situation realistically with their eyes wide open.”

Shuler advises couples act proactively, and tackle issues before blending the family: “Prior to blending, go to a counselor and finding out what the likely hot spots are going to be.” (If money might be a hot spot – and it probably will be – here’s what to consider about blended family finances.)

New family relationships require time to form, making patience key. “It can take up to seven years for this new family to gel and bond, especially if the children are older,” Shuler says. Time, commitment and patience are required of all family members if the new family unit is to succeed; Shuler says, “For some families, the best outcome is simply a cooperative co-existence.”

Tips for successfully blending families

Help kids adapt to the new family configuration Children will belong to two households/families; they need guidance to adjust to different set of rules, expectations, and systems.

Bonding takes time Don’t expect children to love and adore each other or your new partner right away. In some cases, the best case scenario would be working towards courtesy and respect. Building caring relationships between children and their new step-parent/family is a process that requires time and patience.

Be open to discussion Creating opportunities for family discussions, problem-solving and negotiation helps children manage.

Prepare the family for a change
Establishing new family patterns, rituals and traditions help children feel a sense of belonging and shared memories.

Understand the new relationship Clarifying roles, responsibilities and expectations in the blended family serves as a “road map” with strategies for building relationships and a solid framework for the family unit.

Develop a conflict resolution strategy Conflict is a part of all families. Combined families have more complex and diverse needs and emotions in dealing with conflict; a solid conflict resolution model helps to address these issues.

Demonstrate your love Children need reassurance that they are loved and are still a priority to their biological parent, as loyalty issues can arise.

Discipline your own, and step back for his children The general rule of thumb about discipline is that the biological parent is the one who guides the discipline for their own children when there are step-children living together. But within one household the rules need to be consistently applied for all children who live there–and there should not be two sets of rules.

Given that a high proportion of marriages end in divorce, a large number of people in their middle years again become available for marriage. It’s a no wonder that almost half of Canadian families are “blended” and more than 81% of these families have children from the current union.

But the bottom line is what ever you call it–a step family, blended family, combined family–it’s a newly reconfigured family unit. It takes time to bring this new family together, and it takes effort–just remember to resolve conflict, demonstrate love and find the fun.

This article first appeared on

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Crazy, Stupid, Love — this is what divorce looks like?

This summer, The Globe and Mail’s Dave McGinn takes the pros to the movies – people whose real lives, professions and passions are flickering up on the big screen – to see where seasonal silliness and reality intersect. This week: Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it helps to have Ryan Gosling there to get you back on your feet when your marriage falls apart. Every newly divorced man can rely on this, right? How does the picture of divorce painted by Crazy, Stupid, Love, also starring Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, hold up to reality? Pretty well actually, says Deborah Moskovitch, a Toronto-based divorce consultant and author of The Smart Divorce.

Do you think that any middle-aged man who wears running shoes on a romantic date with his wife is headed straight to divorce city?

He’s not headed straight to a divorce, but he should head straight to Harry Rosen and work with a stylist.

What is a divorce consultant, anyways?

What makes me different [than a lawyer or therapist] is that I help people really understand the divorce process from the emotional side and the legal side without offering legal advice or acting like a therapist.

Should you avoid driving with your spouse after telling them you want a divorce so that no one jumps out of the car, the way Carell’s character does in the movie?

If you want to have a smart divorce rather than an ugly divorce, I don’t think you should have that conversation in the car. There’s got to be more planning. You need to think things through. Someone is always going to be hurt by that decision. I have a lot of clients who don’t know how to tell their partner. I’ll send them to a therapist.

In the movie, one of the kids finds out about the divorce when Carell’s character accidentally blurts it out in front of him. Telling the kids is obviously incredibly difficult, but just blurting it out probably isn’t best, right?

That’s got to be the worst thing. It’s devastating for that kid. Kids need to know that the divorce was not their fault, that you love them very much. You need to make them feel secure. Both parents should sit down together and explain the reasons for the divorce, come up with a plan of who’s moving out, where they’re moving, and answer some of the questions that the kids are going to want to know.

When news spreads about Carell and Moore’s divorce, one couple informs Carell they had to pick who to be friends with, and they chose Moore. How do you make sure that when your friends decide which of you they’re going to remain friends with, they pick you?

I don’t think that you can do that. Some couples are able to part amicably, and people don’t feel like they have to take sides. But I do know of people that have said to their friend, “If you’re friends with her, then I can’t be friends with you any more.” Some people do feel there’s a loyalty bond and you’re breaking that bond if you’re socializing [with their ex].

Should every newly single man who is going through a divorce hope that a Ryan Gosling-esque ladies man shepherds them through the dating scene and maybe helps them win their wives back?

It’s deeper than that. Maybe he [Steve Carell’s character] did let himself go. And he just became so complacent in the relationship that he wasn’t keeping himself up the way he did when they first started dating. Clothes don’t make the man, but it’s important not to get into a routine or forget to focus on the relationship any longer.

So no Gosling-esque ladies men, then?

What happens to a lot of people is that they’ve got this identity as a married couple and then they are floundering. You do need to reinvent yourself, in a sense, to find yourself, who you are as an individual. Oftentimes people will start working out and they’ll start paying attention to themselves, they start dressing better. It’s common for people to want to take better care of themselves.

Julianne Moore’s character has an affair. Is that a frequent precursor to divorce?

Some people have an exit affair. One spouse has already decided to leave the marriage and the affair provides the justification. The other partner usually blames the affair rather than looking at how their marriage got to this point.

When do you know that a marriage is definitely over, that there’s no way it can be salvaged?

If you lose trust and respect, that’s often difficult to get back. But everyone has an individual breaking point. One of the things I do for my clients is that if they are very unsure, I will tell them to work with a therapist to make sure this is the right decision for them. Because there’s no going back once you go down that road.

As someone who does your job, what did you really like about the movie, and what did you really not like?

I think the movie was very good about showing the pain of divorce. What I didn’t like about the movie was it just showed that he was able to bounce back a little too quickly to become that womanizer. But there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about that movie. It wasn’t a deep movie, but it did show that kids are smarter than we give them credit for, it showed the mistakes that parents make.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

To access the article click on the link