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The Smart Way to Celebrate the Holidays

Making It Through The Holidays — Alone and Content

This article can be found on The Huffington Post

The Jewish High Holidays are just days away, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I’m sure many are counting down the shopping days until Christmas. Celebrating holidays can be a stressful time when you’re divorced — but it doesn’t need to be.
If you find yourself without your children or extended family at a time when you traditionally celebrated with them, it can be a sad and lonely experience without them now. Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms.

Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations:

Create new traditions. If the old traditions are too painful to follow, let them go. Instead of trying to re-create the past, create your own positive future. Throw your own party and invite friends or family who have nowhere to go during this time.

Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food. Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move.

Be good to yourself. Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, catch up on your favorite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.

Plan ahead. If it looks like you’re going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.

Surround yourself with people, whether from your support network, your family, your church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function.

Contemplate how you would like your life to look like post-divorce and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.

Stay in control by making lists of what you need to do and checking each item off as you accomplish it.

Use any time alone to do the things you’ve been putting off — catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that’s been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with.

If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn’t feel right, try doing something for others off site. For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can’t be with them during the holidays.

Continue to make the holidays special for your children. Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate.

Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control.

Be creative and flexible. If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.

If your children are going to be with their other parent, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them.

Don’t make your children feel that they have to take care of you during this special time. Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves.

Spare the occasional good thought for your ex. Your marriage likely had some good moments. Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of your bitterness about your current situation.

Wishing everyone good health, happiness and prosperity; peace and love.

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Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants

This program on The Smart Divorce radio show with Deborah Moskovitch features Elliott Katz, author of seven nonfiction books.  Elliott teaches the principles he shares in his book: Being a Strong Man a Woman Wants

After the end of a relationship, Elliott sought to learn about being a man in a relationship. He found books on marriage and relationships said little to him. He found powerful timeless insights in the lessons that fathers and other older male role models taught younger men. People started seeking his advice and would say, “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?”

Moving beyond the trendy ideas about a man’s role – that just don’t seem to work – Elliott shares insights on being a man that have withstood the test of time. Interestingly, these insights are the traits that he heard many women complain were lacking in men today – showing leadership, making decisions and taking responsibility.

Topics in this program include:

  • Why are women so frustrated with today’s men?
  • How does growing up without strong male role models affect men today?
  • The lack of “quality” men is a common complaint from women today. What happened to today’s men?
  • Does today’s strong woman today want a strong man?
  • What are the traits of a strong man?

Tune in and listen to what Elliott has to share

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Home Alone? Coping With The Post-Divorce Blues

“It’s the weekend and once again, I am dreading the feeling of being alone.” I hear this sentiment expressed all too often from many divorcées — be it at the beginning of their separation, or from those that have been divorced for years.

Is it possible to embrace the feeling of aloneness and actually do something positive about it? You bet it is.

At the beginning of their separation or divorce, many people often feel abandoned or sidelined by their married friends. I tend to think of it as the “fifth wheel bug”. Don’t worry, it’s not something you catch — but the discomfort is there. The dynamics of socializing often change upon separation and divorce. While the situation of being the odd person out in a couple’s world — a Noah’s Ark society — is not uncommon, it can be unnerving. Suddenly single, it’s at this time in your life when you need the love and support of your friends like never before.

I not only hear about the loneliness frequently from my clients and friends, but experienced this first hand when I was newly separated. Not every couple excludes the single person, but there are lots who do. There are many reasons why the single person is left out, so don’t take it personally. It is easier to fit four or six around a table than three or five. Balanced, even.

To read my full article that appeared in The Huffington Post click on the link below

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The Fresh Air Fund Thanks Its Supporters

THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

If you or someone you know is able to host next summer, please sign up now.

Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences. 
More than 65% of all children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.

Fresh Air Fund Host Families

“It is rewarding to see the smile on our Fresh Air child’s face as she enjoys the simple things we take for granted…”

Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster
they would like to host. Stories about real Fresh Air host families and their New York City visitors are just a click away!
Click here to learn more about becoming a host or call (800) 367-0003!

“We made s’mores and hot dogs over the fire. I’ve never cooked outside before!”

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.

The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes. 

Fresh Air children are registered by more than 90 participating social service and community organizations located in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the five boroughs of New York City. These community-based agencies are in close contact with children in need of summer experiences in rural and suburban areas. Each agency is responsible for registering children for the program.

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Why the Divorce Rate Has Risen So High

Have you ever stopped to ponder why the divorce rate has risen so dramatically over the past 50 years? 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.

Deborah MoskovitchDeborah Moskovitch

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 this Program, Divorce Consultant, Deborah Moskovitch discusses the evolution of the divorce rate and it’s impact on the family.

To hear the interview click on the link:

To read the article referenced in the interview check out the article in

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Should I Keep or Sell the Matrimonial Home?

But “I” Want The Home

By: Randy Morrow

Certified Real-estate Divorce Specialist

The family home represents comfort and safety, and when divorce starts looming the immediate reaction is to look to that which is comfortable and safe.  The home.

This reaction is not gender-specific, although I don’t believe I would be courting any controversy if I said the wife is the partner who generally wants to keep the home, especially if children are involved.

Let’s assume it is the wife.  There is no doubt it is usually better for the family if the old family home remains the family home.  But (and this is a huge But) should she stay in the home?  Can she afford to stay in the home?

The decision to stay in the home is generally based on pure emotion.  Very little thought is placed on the reality of staying in the home.  This is where a professional becomes increasingly important.  They can add Reality to your surreal situation.

How, you ask?  By helping you compile a list of the financial obligations you will be facing.  In many cases, the husband may have been paying the bills and you just knew they were being paid without giving any real thought to the actual costs.  In today’s world, with so many women in the workforce and salary gaps gradually narrowing, the woman may have been paying the bills and the man has no clue.

Here are some items you MUST consider, they won’t go away just because you want them to.  You also must consider the ramifications.  For instance:

Insurance:  health, life, automobile.  OR, which one would you be willing to give up?

Utilities:  gas, water, oil, electricity, phone(s)—cell phones, home phone, internet, etc.

Groceries & eating out.  Just think about it, you might not have to go out to eat anymore.

Automobile:  Normal wear & tear repairs; fuel; norm maintenance; new tires.  And…how old is your current vehicle; how much longer will it last?

Home:  Age of the roof?  How long until the home needs to be repainted?  What is the current condition of the home?  In this day and age, is the mortgage higher than the value of the home if/when it comes time to sell?  Will you have the time or inclination to keep the yard mowed and hedges trimmed and flower beds de-weeded?

Clothing.  You AND the kids.  If the kids are under eighteen, it’s a safe bet they are constantly growing out of their size; fashions are changing; they are becoming more independent but still looking to you for spending money.

Children’s Extracurricular Activities.  No matter their age or where you live, the kids will be involved in some activity.  And there are always costs involved.  Hidden costs also, such as payment to see their games.  And don’t forget, your other kids will want to go also.

Credit.  Here’s one you probably haven’t thought about, especially if you have been the stay-at-home parent.  Have you kept established credit or have a current payment record?   Do you have perfect credit but your spouse has some ‘issues’?  This will affect you if you haven’t taken steps beforehand to separate yourself from them.

The Dreaded Unknown.  This is the worst category as far as I’m concerned.  Unknown can wreck every plan you’ve made in an instant, and at any time.  A plumbing leak for instance.  Maybe a fender bender in the car.  There is simply no way to accurately budget for the Unknowns.

None of this is what you want to hear; but if you lie to yourself or bury your head in the sand, the divorce will seem tame compared to the disaster to follow should you get the home and find out soon after that keeping the home was just not realistic.

Wait, you said, I’m going to be getting child support.  There are two things to think about: a) what if you don’t receive the payment? b) Remember, the other spouse is going to be facing the same adjustments you are.  Kind of risky to base your delicate financial balance on this, eh?

There are many more things to consider when making decisions about keeping the divorce home or selling it or consenting that the other spouse to have the home.  If you really want it, I hope things work out for you.  My hope is that you will now see this issue in a clear light and make a safe and sound decision for yourself and your children.

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What September means for divorce

Deborah Moskovitch offers helpful tips for assisting your children through divorce while starting the new school year.

Hello September, so long spouse


From Friday’s Globe and Mail

September is the cruellest month for students, but not for divorce lawyers, as the dusky end of summer brings a swell of clients to their offices each year.

“Fall is back to business time,” said Julia Cornish, senior family lawyer of Sealy Cornish Coulthard. The Halifax firm sees two spikes a year – September and January, New Year’s resolution time.

“Because we all spent so many years in school, it’s a point in our lives when we’ve been conditioned that this is when we do something new,” Ms. Cornish said.

Her office sees double and sometimes triple the normal number of calls in September. These are from new clients, as well as those who had initiated the separation process in spring but let it languish over the summer months.

“People want to get moving,” said Greg Walen, family lawyer with Scharfstein Gibbings Walen Fisher in Saskatoon.

“They’re back to work, they’re back from summer holidays and they’re back in town from the lake.”

According to Statistics Canada, the country saw 70,226 divorces in 2008, a number that’s held fairly steady since 2001. While there’s no official exit poll in September, Canadian divorce lawyers seem to agree: the calls come thick and fast this month.

Dinyar Marzban, senior family lawyer with Jenkins Marzban Logan in Vancouver, said empty nests motivate the September divorce spike.

“Fall comes around and children go to school. The category of people who rightly or wrongly hung in there for the children, maybe the last one’s gone away to university in September. There’s a fair amount of that, people waiting till the last kid’s out of the house.”

He points out that this brand of waiting game is usually reserved for couples who experience a “general dissatisfaction” in their marriages, not the cutthroat betrayals that prompt high conflict, low patience splits.

Many couples will have stewed for months or years before making the September phone call: “I don’t think people’s marriages break down then. It’s just that they start phoning lawyers then,” Mr. Marzban said.

For people waiting it out through a summer of family-filled days, “the dialogue they have with themselves is, ‘Can I hang in, should I hang in?’ ” Ms. Cornish said.

“It’s the same thing as trying to get through Christmas: Let’s get through this. Unless something catastrophic happens, nobody decides on Christmas Eve, ‘Some time today I need to go see a divorce lawyer.’ What they say is, ‘I’m thinking this probably can’t go on much longer. I’m going to get through Christmas and then come January, it’s time to make a change.’ ”

Of course, there are regional differences. Wendy Best, family lawyer with Dunphy Best Blocksom in Calgary, says that while city lawyers do see a jump in September, the real surge comes after July’s Stampede.

“We think it’s because everyone’s out Stampeding having a grand old time drinking non-stop starting at 7 in the morning. There’s all these stupid, ridiculous sayings like, ‘It ain’t cheating, it’s Stampeding.’ And the other person’s going, ‘Thanks, I’m done with you.’ ”

Stampede aside, several factors make summer an unpopular time for initiating a divorce.

“It’s not a lot of fun spending a beautiful summer day in your lawyer’s office,” Ms. Cornish points out.

Mr. Marzban sees it as seasonal lethargy: “People tend not to do anything in the summer. Summer, everybody powers down a bit.”

Another more tangible reason would be that all-inclusive getaway you splurged on together.

“Do you want to spring that on your partner before you go on the two-week holiday you’ve planned and saved for?” Ms. Cornish posits.

She adds that for those itching to split, summer also offers little in the way of momentum.

“It’s frustrating if you are trying to get things done, only to hear that your spouse is on vacation for the next two weeks, and then their lawyer’s on vacation for the next couple of weeks and then your lawyer’s on vacation. Typically courts have a much quieter schedule in the summer as well.”

At the same time, Ms. Cornish suggests summer can be the only time left in the year for reflection, a pause that can then spark the September phone call.

“It’s an opportunity to step back from the daily grind, figure out what’s working and what’s not in your life.”

How to help kids cope

The Smart Divorce author Deborah Moskovitch offers some basic back-to-school help for parents who have decided to separate in September.

Get thee to the principal’s office

To avoid awkward moments between your child and a teacher unaware of the new family dynamics, try to eke out a moment with a principal or vice-principal, who can relay the news. “They know how to handle it with their teachers,” said Ms. Moskovitch, adding that this is crucial if pick-ups are being handled by a parent unfamiliar to staff. “Parents often change the guard at school, rather than going to the other parent’s home to pick up the children. This way, the teachers are aware of what’s happening if they see another parent they’re not used to seeing.”

Get on the school list

If you weren’t the parent manning the school e-mail list, get your own account now, Ms. Moskovitch said. “Make sure that you get report cards mailed to you – register your second address. If there are field trips, you can put your name on the list to be one of the parenting guides. It shows the kids that you care and want to be involved.”

Homework for all

Moving out doesn’t exempt a parent from helping the kids with their homework, especially if they’re particularly strong in a subject. “If you were married, the kids would come home from school, have snacks and maybe some playtime and then they would do their homework.” Recreate that discipline at your place.

Pass notes

“A lot of parents use a journal that goes into the kids’ backpack as a tool to communicate with each other. It goes back and forth and they send notes about doctors’ appointments and assignments at school,” Ms. Moskovitch said.

Be flexible with visits

Between mountains of homework and extracurricular events, your children’s dance cards will fill up fast. Wednesday night pizza may not always be an option; try a lunch on the weekend or during the week if the school allows children leaving the grounds. “The parent can’t take it as a negative if the kids are busy with their friends doing school projects or hockey. They have to be creative in how they spend time with their kids, whether that’s driving [them] to the activities or having a quick dinner.”

Have the talk – most parents don’t

Ms. Moskovitch urges parents to speak with their children about the separation and anticipate their questions: Where they will live and go to school? “You need to give them a sense of security. If they’re already going to start the school year with a heavy heart because they don’t know what’s going on, at least you can try to minimize the confusion by having that conversation.”

To read this article in The Globe and Mail, and other articles by Zosia Bielski click on the link below: