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Should So Many Couples Choose Divorce?

From the Huffington Post

Deborah Moskovitch

Divorce Coach, Author, Speaker, Guide, Radio Host

Should So Many Couples Choose Divorce?

Posted: 01/15/2013 12:17 pm

*This article first appeared on more.ca

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 per cent increase in total divorces over 50 years.

This compares with an increase in the total population of only 139 per cent. 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. And I suspect the statistics are not too dissimilar in the U.S., although the hard numbers are usually ten times that of what occurs in Canada. For example, the number of divorces in the U.S. in 2008 was reported at 840,000, by CDC/NCHS National Vital Statistics System.

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.

To read the whole article and view the HuffPost slide show click here


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What You Need to Know About Real Estate During Divorce

Many people transitioning through a divorce want to distance themselves from the other party as quickly as possible and this can result in poor, and ultimately  expensive, mistakes. Prematurely paying off  joint credit cards, selling personal property, and buying or selling real estate are some examples that require extreme caution prior to the final settlement.

Buying a new home is a common first step to cleanse a person of the divorce experience. They want to leave the marital home and strike out on their own, make a fresh start and solidify their independence. What better way to express their new situation than to create an oasis in the form of a new home.

Divorce Real Estate Specialist, Joan Rogliano joins us to discuss the up and downside of real estate during divorce.  Divorce Consultant, Deborah Moskovitch joins the show as well adding her expert opinion.  If you are going through the process of divorce and own real estate, this is a “must hear” show.

For more on Joan Rogliano, visit: www.RoglianoRealEstateGroup.com and www.wildflowerwomensfoundation.org.

To listen and download this interview click here


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Considering divorce? Good reasons to wait for January

By Geoff Williams

Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:43am EST

(Reuters) – Going through a divorce during the holidays can be emotionally wrenching, which is why many people don’t do it – they put it off until January.

“People don’t want to upset the apple cart over the holidays, and they want a peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s. And then, because they don’t want to spend another damned year with that spouse of theirs, as soon as the holidays are over they pull the plug and file,” says Alton Abramowitz, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

While there are no hard numbers on how many divorces are filed in January, Abramowitz says it’s undoubtedly a popular time to act, rivaled only by September, when marriages break up after the summer holidays. Yet waiting for the holidays to pass doesn’t all come down to simply wanting a harmonious holiday season. There are sound financial reasons to wait until January.

1. Waiting for the bonus

A husband or wife who waits until January is likely to be entitled to any year-end windfall that might come from a spouse’s job.

“In New York, at least, once you file for divorce and you set the cut-off date, anything you obtain afterward is separate property,” says Steven Goldfeder, a matrimonial attorney in New York City who acknowledges that year-end bonuses are often fought over, even if a spouse declares he or she wants a divorce in January. “Someone could claim the bonus isn’t really for that particular year, but a payment to entice someone to stay at the firm for the future.”

2. Cool your emotions

The holidays are a time when emotions run high. “If your spouse always has it in her mind that Christmas was ruined, she or he may not be so eager to settle with you,” says Goldfeder. “Your divorce might drag out for months or years longer than it would have.”

Once, shortly before Christmas, Goldfeder received a call from a client who said a co-worker had had a baby they both believed was his. The client, married and the father of three, planned to tell his wife and assumed she would leave him. Goldfeder talked him into first getting a paternity test. The client’s family had a nice Christmas, and the day after, the client learned he wasn’t the father.

Not exactly a warm holiday tale, but by cooling your emotions, you may save your family a lot of stress.

3. Avoid disastrous shopping

December is the shopping season, and that can spell disaster if an angry spouse is set loose with a credit card. “The spouse served with divorce papers may feel that they deserve some kind of emotional gift because of this horrible thing their spouse did to them,” says Kevin Worthley, a certified divorce financial analyst and certified financial planner in Warwick, Rhode Island.

An angry spouse may also be more inclined to want to drain the bank accounts and run up the credit cards. “That’s a danger any time, but past the holidays, when everything’s been bought, there’s likely less inclination to buy a big-ticket item out of revenge,” says Worthley.

4. Think about April

At year-end, taxes come to mind. “Obviously, the better records you have, the better position you’re going to be in,” says Andrew Katzenstein, a Los Angeles lawyer, referring to paperwork that you might want to start collecting now.

Katzenstein, who specializes in assisting high-net-worth individuals, businesses and charities, says that in the past there haven’t been many tax advantages to filing for a divorce in January rather than December. Filling for divorce is just a beginning step, after all. Many couples end up filing their taxes jointly until the divorce is completed.

But tax brackets may go up in 2013, depending on whether the U.S. budget dispute is resolved. So going forward, the calculus may be different. “The person who pays alimony will get more bang for their deduction buck, and the person receiving the payments will pay more taxes,” he says.

5. More time to plan

If you’ve made up your mind that a divorce is going to be one of your New Year’s resolutions, there are things you can do now. Whatever side you end up on — paying alimony or receiving it — you need to start preparing.

“You should start collecting all of your end-of-the-year statements,” says Worthley. “You really need to know everything — your household budget, your assets, what’s in your checking account, how much you’re paying for the mortgage, all of your debts and your credit card balances. It’s important to get all of that.”

Your financial records will be needed to determine how much spousal support will be paid out, and how the finances will be divided. “The more information you get, the less complicated it’ll be when you’re negotiating and working things out with a financial mediator, attorney or judge,” says Deborah Moskovitch, a divorce coach in Toronto who counts January as her busiest month for new clients.

To read the whole article click here


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My Money Mindset – Finances During Divorce

Now posted on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio

One of the biggest fears post-divorce are finances.  Trusting yourself to make financial choices is a big issue, especially when it comes to your divorce settlement.  Our guest, Dr. Deborah Nixon, helps us to understand what we need to do.  Dr. Nixon is an entrepreneur, professor, executive, consultant, and community volunteer; she has identified a common need in today’s cautious working environment for trusting professional relationships. Economic instability has undercut our readiness to trust one another – and this is especially hard in divorce.  We’re gong to relate this all to your post-divorce life.

Dr. Nixon helps us understand the importance of building and maintaining trust in ourselves when making financial decisions – especially when it’s post-divorce, and the worry is “what about my future?”   She has developed the MyMoneyMindset and Trust Intelligence Program and shares her work, to help us with financial decision-making. We discuss the intangibles of trust, reputation and integrity to make them tangible and practical.

To understand how these goals are met in reasonable manner we explore:

  • Defining Moments as a pivot point for deeper understanding of financial decision-making
  • How assessments, coaching and consulting have helped clients learn to take charge of their money while helping professionals learn what their clients need from them.
  • Helping to develop Financial Wellness
  • The 10 Minute Survey
  • The importance of feeling strong so that you can manage your money

My Money Mindset will help you make better and more informed decisions about your money. Tackle those hard issues. A raise, the family budget, a financial plan, your relationship with your financial professional. Don’t you owe it to yourself! Isn’t your peace of mind worth it? This interview will surely help you understand what trust means, trust breaches and trust repair. Fascinating stuff.

To find out more, contact Dr. Nixon at Deborah@mymoneymindset.com, or call 416-986-7049

Don’t forget, Like us on our Facebook pagesThe Smart Divorce and Divorce Source Radio.  Join the community!

To listen tune in here


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What are the dispute resolutions?

You have choices and options to arrive at your separation agreement.A smart divorce means doing the research and gaining the understanding of these options so that you are making your decisions with confidence.

Do it yourself

This is the situation when separating couples to try reach an agreement without legal counsel.When I conducted my research for my book, The Smart Divorce, not one lawyer recommended this option. They didn’t support this option because they felt it is imperative that people understand their rights in terms of what they are entitled to and financial responsibilities and obligations with regard to spousal support and child support.For example, you could be giving away or not getting your most important assets; you might not be doing what is in the family’s best interest.If you do decide to go this route, you should at least consult with a lawyer first to get independent legal advice to understand your rights.

Negotiation

Think of negotiation as taking your wish list regarding how you divide your assets and what your parenting responsibilities should be and use this list as a starting point for what you end up with. It’s me and my lawyer versus you and your lawyer finding a compromise– all with the goal of reaching an acceptable middle ground.It’s me versus you with our lawyers beside us.Usually, we’re both trying to get as much as possible.

Now if you have to go to court, negotiation takes place too.The purpose of negotiation here is using it to avoid trial. When people file lawsuits there’s an expectation that there will be some maneuvering and bargaining and eventually a settlement will occur rather than full blown court with trial.The typical pattern is to use the threat of trial to get people to bargain and stay out of court.

Mediation

Mediation is using a mediator – It’s using the help of a neutral third party to help the divorcing couple reach a separation agreement together.A mediator is the problem solver helping the couple arrive at an agreement by helping them communicate with each other– a good mediator will help the couple identify issues and explore choices that they hadn’t thought of on their own.

Another benefit is that for some couples mediation is more cost effective because they are splitting the cost of a mediator, rather than paying hours separately with their individual lawyers.Many lawyers and clients like it because it gives both sides more control over the final outcome, but it does require that you be willing to work together, there is honesty and full disclosure about the finances.

A mediator can be a lawyer or a mental health professional.Most lawyers prefer that when you are mediating financial matters that your mediator be a lawyer.

Collaborative family law

The concept is that the lawyers work strictly toward settlement. Clients and their lawyers sign a contract in which they agree not to go to court, and to provide full and complete financial disclosure. The purpose of collaborative law is to create an environment in which the separating couple feels safe, in which both parties feel that they are able to make informed decisions about their own destinies, and in which they can work constructively despite their fears, anger, and feelings of revenge.

The lawyers fulfill their traditional role of advising their own clients on how the law applies to their individual situations. But they also help their clients to reframe their thinking–to develop goals as opposed to taking positions, and to make good and ethical choices. If either client wishes to end the collaborative process and go to court, both lawyers and other members of their firms must remove themselves from the case.

Arbitration

Arbitration is much like litigation in that you go to court in a sense, but it is outside of a courtroom. It is a private process. The divorcing spouses together with their lawyers pick a decision maker, who is usually a retired judge or senior lawyer with family law experience.

What happens in arbitration is that the decision being debated between the couple is imposed by the arbitrator.Unlike mediation, no one helps the couple come to an agreement; the decision is made for them. And, usually, if you don’t like the decision, it can’t be appealed which means, you can’t argue it out again for the decision maker to change his or her mind.

Litigation

I’m not saving the best for last; this is last because litigation is usually the option of last resort.Going to court.It’s emotionally difficult and financially, very expensive.

Who remembers Perry Mason?– when you’re up on the stand and your lawyer is asking lots of questions and all of a suddenthere is this aha moment by the judge and yes, it’s determined you are right and the other side is wrong and justice is served.It’s his word against hers and the battle starts from there.The lawyers try to poke holes in your persona showing that you are unfit.That’s why it is called the adversarial process.There is one winner, and one loser.It’s not a win – win situation. It’s a war and there are distinct sides.

Like arbitration, the decision is made by a third party.Unlike arbitration, you can’t pick your decision maker and the judge doesn’t always have family law experience.Another difference is that arbitration is private, going to court is public.Being public means that there is a public record of the dispute.

For a more comprehensive analysis of the dispute resolutions readThe Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers Counselors and Other Experts (available wherever books are sold)


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The Shared Custody Experience

On this episode of The Smart Divorce with Deborah Moskovitch, our guest is Denise Whitehead, a lawyer with a Ph.D. in Family Relations & Human Development.  She combines her legal and social science backgrounds and shares her important research on socio-legal practice and policy issues related to separation and divorce that affect all members of the family system – mothers, fathers and children.

Denise Whitehead

Dr. Whitehead discusses her dissertation research that involved in-depth interviews with young adults who spent time in shared custody as children and examined their perspectives on transitions, relationships and fairness.  The information is helpful on so many levels – but most importantly looks at what children really want, the outcomes and impact.

Topics in this program include:

  • How shared custody is influencing parent child relationships
  • Fairness in decision making
  • What children want in a custody arrangement
  • The importance of quality time with children
  • Who “owns the time”
  • ‘Managing-up:’ Young adult children who experienced shared custody reflect on their efforts to make family relations work
  • Custodial decision-making and fairness: Young adults who lived in shared custody give their ‘expert’ opinions
  • And so much more…….

This is a must listen show if you are thinking of, working through or implementing your parenting plan.  Dr. Whitehead provides practical and creative thinking about parenting and the relationship with your children.

To listen click here

Don’t forget, Like us on our Facebook pages, The Smart Divorce and Divorce Source Radio.  Join the community!


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What Parents Can Learn From Hurricane Sandy

The Huffington Post Asked: Divorce professionals: Do you think Hurricane Sandy emphasizes the need for a disaster-preparedness plan between co-parents? Share your thoughts!

This was my response – 

Divorce Coach, Author, Speaker, Guide, Radio Host

The massive storm and colossal damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy caused major devastation for many. Yet, despite the pounding that so many experienced, the outpouring of help I read about was admirable, illustrating the importance of standing up in the face of adversity and supporting one another. The media did such an incredible job of depicting the rarely seen humanity of neighbors helping fellow neighbors. The also showed the lineups post-Sandy for pay phones as she cut all power, rendering cell phones useless for many.

This got me thinking about the many life events that, if not prepared for, could wreak havoc in our lives. What if there was a disaster — what would happen to our children? Who would be responsible for a rescue plan– me or their father? What if one of us became seriously ill, who would take care of our children? What about eldercare — if one of us co-parents suddenly had to take care of our parents for a short time and couldn’t focus on our children, who would? The list of “what ifs” became dizzying, as I began to think about the various scenarios that could cause colossal damage to our family life.

A disaster preparedness plan is something people don’t talk about; it’s something we probably don’t even think about. But there are lessons to be learned from this disaster. As a divorce coach, my role is to guide people to positive outcomes for a happier, healthier future. So I’m going to suggest to all of my coaching clients that they think of a “what if” plan in case of an emergency — a contingency plan for themselves and their children’s mental and physical health and well-being.

Having a plan will ensure that parents know who is responsible for what. Think about:

  • Who is going to be responsible for the children when calamity strikes if you are in the middle of other commitments.
  • A communication back up plan you can rely on.
  • “What if” scenarios and back-up plans in your parenting arrangement. Don’t wait to make a plan when crisis strikes, do it before; it’s like an insurance plan. You hope you never need it, but it’s there just in case. Make decisions when you are calm and can think straight, rather than when disaster strikes and you are panicked and can’t think.

Hurricane Sandy was nasty and caused long term and permanent damage. We could look at this storm metaphorically as a high conflict divorce. The storm represents the conflict between parents, and the devastation that results is inflicted upon the children, who might not come out unscathed. Perhaps this is the underlying message, that parents need to get along, co-parent and work through the storm and destruction together.

Forward thinking and having a plan will go a long way.

I wrote this article in response to a question posted by The Huffington Post: “Do you think Hurricane Sandy emphasizes the need for a disaster-preparedness plan between co-parents?” I shared my thoughts, now would love to hear yours.

This article first appeared in The Huffington Post

Deborah Moskovitch is a Divorce Coach and founder of The Smart Divorce — providing cost effective resources and powerful educational tools to empower and free people during this difficult time. To learn more, visit Deborah on the web at:

Website: http://www.thesmartdivorce.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Smart-Divorce
Twitter: http://twitter.com/thesmartdivorce
Listen to The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio at www.divorcesourceradio.com


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Don’t Divorce Me! Kids’ Rules for Parents on Divorce

Have you watched the new documentary on HBO – Don’t Divorce Me!  If you haven’t already done so, I strongly suggest you do.

This is the most incredible program providing a voice to children of divorce.  They share their do’s and don’ts of what their parents are doing right and wrong throughout the divorce process and beyond.  The important tips they share are:

  1. Don’t use your kids as messengers
  2. Let them know that the divorce isn’t there fault
  3. Don’t fight
  4. Love your children (too much)
  5. They want to spend time with both mom and dad
  6. Keep the kids out of the middle
  7. Try to make sure that your parents get both kids kind of equally
  8. Don’t ask me to spy

These kids are smart are tell parents in such a powerful way what they could be doing better.  Children are the ones that live out the divorce…..so let’s give our children the best chances and listen to their message.

If you’re having trouble coping emotionally, understanding the importance of putting your children’s best interest first, healing through the divorce process for a happier, healthier future, then you will definitely want to check out The Smart Divorce ToolKit – a cost-effective and valuable divorce support resource.

I’ve written previous blog posts about The Children’s Best Interests.  Check them out:


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Don’t Let Divorce Destroy Your Relationship with Your Kids

The calendar year starts in September for many families, and along with that comes many adjustments. One of the most serious fall-outs of divorce may be a diminished child-parent relationship.

What happens when you’re a kind, loving, caring parent whose relationship has been downgraded for what seems like no reason at all? How do you maintain a relationship with your children when their priorities change from family to now focusing on school and friends? Here are five ways to maintain a relationship with your kids during the school year.

1. Re-frame your thinking: Don’t measure time spent with your children in quantity — minutes and hours — but in terms of the quality of time you are spending together.

2. Be creative: Keep the relationship going by doing what is in their best interest — driving them to programs, helping them with homework and asking them what they need from you. By doing so, you get to know who their friends are and understand what they are doing at school; it will help promote conversation.

To read the whole article, click on the link below

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-moskovitch/dont-let-divorce-destroy-_b_1853231.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce


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The Divorce Party on Humble and Fred

What to hear more about The Divorce Party and buy tickets?  Tune in to The Humble and Fred podcast.

You’ll hear more about finding your post divorce happiness, what divorce is all about, and how this life changing event can be rich in opportunity to learn and grown from. Click on the link to download this informative and entertaining podcast http://www.humbleandfred.com