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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.

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The Smart Divorce Audio Series Now Available

Get through your divorce as you save time, money – and your sanity! One low price gives you the complete Smart Divorce ToolKit –audios and Smart Guides – a cost-effective way to reduce stress as you help clients and manage the divorce process.

Endorsed by judges, lawyers and mental health professionals, The Smart Divorce ToolKit provides guidance and information from leading family law lawyers, mental health professionals, and parenting experts, well versed on the needs of those in the divorce process. This one smart package makes it uncomplicated and effortless to understand.

Reassuring, informative and easy to listen to, The Smart Divorce  Smart Audios offer more than 2.5 hours of presentations, full of insightful tips and strategies to help you navigate this difficult time.

Deborah Moskovitch educates listeners about the divorce process and provides practical information on getting through it with focus, hope and confidence. She teams with psychologist Dr. Robert Simon , an expert on divorce, relationships and families – with a special focus on children of divorce and custody conflicts.

Audio 1 – The Emotional Divorce

Understand that every divorce has two sides: legal and emotional. The Smart Divorce Audio 1 gives you strategies and tips for coping in healthy ways with your emotions, so you can make clear-headed decisions for your children and yourself. (37.24 minutes)

Audio 2 – The Legal Divorce

Empower yourself by knowing what’s ahead. The Smart Divorce Audio 2 helps you understand how to organize, prepare and work towards a realistic, favorable outcome for you and your family. From selecting the right legal advocate to exploring other divorce options, The Legal Divorce helps you manage the practicalities and take charge of the process. (45.24 minutes)

Audio 3 – Smart Co-Parenting: Putting Your Children’s Best Interests First

Help your kids think of themselves as regular kids, not the children of divorce. The Smart Divorce Audio 3 helps you understand what they are going through, and talk to your children about the divorce. Learn the challenges and issues of co-parenting, and how to make it work. Move forward, maintaining positive connections with your children. (40.61 minutes)

Audio 4 – Rebuilding Your Life Post Divorce

Divorce is a hugely emotional time. But it’s also an opportunity to reevaluate your life and make it better than it was before your divorce. The Smart Divorce Audio 4 helps you embrace an uncertain future, and move forward with focus, hope and confidence. It gives you coping strategies for dealing with your former partner, and ways to develop your most important and lasting relationship: with yourself. (33.66 minutes)

For more information and to buy these informative videos click on the link:

If you would like to learn more about this unique and innovative program, and how it may help you, please contact Deborah Moskovitch at The Smart Divorce by emailing, or call 905.695.0270.

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TV’s Divorce Court Celebrity Judge Lynn Toler with Thoughts on Divorce

Our guest, award winner and mentor, Judge Lynn Toler ( is smart, talented and creative – and judge on one of television’s most successful courtroom drama series: DIVORCE COURT.

Judge Lynn Toler is a former municipal court judge who now hosts the nationally syndicated show, Divorce Court. She is also a bi-monthly contributor to News and Notes on NPR and became host of the prime time TV show Decision House in 2007. In 2006, Judge Lynn published her book, My Mother’s Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius. Praised as an “awe-inspiring memoir” by Essence Magazine, it not only chronicles her life as a child raised in the shadow of her father’s mental illness but provides practical advice for anyone seeking more and better emotional control

Having completed more than two thousand episodes, on DIVORCE COURT, Judge Lynn Toler turns up the heat on court shows in this half-hour, relationship oriented series. Viewers experience the drama firsthand as husbands and wives square off in real-life courtroom battles.  Judge Lynn shares her wisdom and insight of the legal process, how to have a much smarter divorce…..or even save your marriage.  And, she speaks of her mission to gain awareness about teen violence.

Topics in this program include:

  • How communicating better might help you avoid divorce
  • What a judge can and cannot do
  • The emotions of court; what to do to get a better resolution
  • The inherent unfairness of no fault divorce
  • The surprising truth about teen violence and what parents should be aware of Domestic violence – an explanation, coping and managing
  • The limits of the legal system
  • Intelligent mediation
To hear this fascinating interview click on the link:

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How to be Smart About Divorce on Family Matters TV

I am both proud an honoured to be a guest on Family Matters with Justice Brownstone.   This is by far one of my most informative  and personal interviews; Justice Brownstone digs deep as I share my  research and lessons learned so that anyone can have The Smart Divorce.  He also delves into my own divorce journey,  so that viewers are empowered with information and knowledge.  Tune  in tonight, October 4, at 10:30pm on CHCH TV.

If you are interested in learning more about The Smart Divorce Resource ToolKit ,which Justice Brownstone speaks so highly of, please email for more information.

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Forgiveness: How to Let Go

The Power of Forgiveness

The forgiveness journey – how to make it happen

Our guest, Mark Rye is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Skidmore College. Mark’s research interests are in the field of positive psychology. He has studied the impact of forgiveness on post-divorce adjustment and has developed and evaluated interventions designed to help divorced individuals forgive their ex-spouse.  Recently, he has become interested in how forgiveness of an ex-spouse relates to parenting approach.

In this informative and thought provoking interview we discuss what is forgiveness, and how to achieve it – so that angry thoughts do not hold you back from moving on.  We explore how forgiveness is a journey and how your thoughts, feelings and behavior can transform you.

This is a very powerful and forgiving program! If you have any questions about this topic, please email Mark Rye at

More information and resources may also be found at the Fetzer Institute

  • Topics in this program include:
  • Strategies for letting go of your anger
  • What is forgiveness
  • Understanding the forgiveness journey
  • What does research show about the relationship between forgiveness of an ex-spouse and post-divorce adjustment?
  • Forgiveness interventions
  • What are some of the unique challenges that divorced individuals face with respect to forgiveness?
To listen in to this informative interview, click on the link below:

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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


Is Your Home Broken?

I wrote this article for The Huffington Post.  It really touched a nerve with readers as it encouraged a significant number of comments, even to my email account.  Please feel free to join in, and submit your comments to this blog.

Thank you,


My home is run down, but it’s not broken…

The legal community and researchers often define divorce matters in technical terms: custodial parent, custody, access, primary residence, amongst others. I understand the reasons behind those terms, which help to describe and label the concepts in the legal arena to eliminate confusion. But a term that is often used, and in my mind, has little rationale, is “broken home.” In today’s society, there are so many different configurations of a “family” unit. But, when it comes to defining a family run by a single parent as “broken,” I wonder, where is the break? Perhaps I’m sensitive, but I don’t consider my children to be growing up in a “broken home.” When I talk to my children, we call ourselves a family, without any negative connotations, because that is what we are.

Many of my divorce consulting clients are so full of fear that their kids will be stigmatized because of their divorce, and worried that people will whisper behind their backs, “those children come from a broken home.” So I help them reframe their thinking and encourage them to banish those thoughts by sharing details about my own home as an example. We look at the physical and emotional aspects of my home.

The cabinet door in my kitchen has fallen off the hinge, the hot water tank just burst, the fridge door won’t close properly and, I need a new roof. Yes, my home is in need of physical repair, but it certainly does not need emotional repair–and there is nothing that can’t be fixed.

You wouldn’t believe how this way of thinking resonates with so many.

The reality is, we should not compare ourselves to more “traditional” families with two parents living at home. Divorce may change a family’s structure, but it’s still a family. All families–so-called “traditional” families and the rest of us–have challenges, no matter how our living arrangements are configured.

If you are able to change your perspective of what “family” is, your children’s outlook will be positive as well. As a parent, our challenge is to make life work for our kids. We need to ensure they don’t perceive themselves as disadvantaged or as “children of divorce.” They need to think of themselves as just regular kids.

I feel confident as a single parent. I may be a bit more frazzled than someone in a home with two parents living there, but that’s because of the practical everyday exigencies of life with three active children (and who really knows what goes on behind closed doors? Just because there are two parents, does that always mean both parents share all the responsibilities? Don’t compare!) When I glimpse into families with two parents living at home, my home often appears to be working wonderfully well.

Despite an incredible amount of multitasking and juggling, I’ve had to find creative ways to meet my children’s needs, which seem to converge at the same time, like having to be in two places at the same time. But, while I do it all on my own and don’t have a partner to share the responsibility, I find ways to make it work: carpooling, encouraging a child’s independence by walking or riding a bike to their activity. And, I can’t shirk my own responsibilities –I run a business, manage my personal affairs, and make time for “me.” So while I might be a bit more stressed, my children are growing up in a healthy and loving environment.

It’s a well known fact that effective parenting is paramount, especially when parents are separated; the need to maintain routine, structure and rules should be non negotiable no matter if there are one or two parents living at home. I have house rules, set curfews (although I have been a bit lax at times), my children must get their homework done, and I’m always there to kiss them goodnight and listen to their worries.

If you still consider a divorced family to be “broken” then think about a few things:

How about a family where both parents are living together, but constantly fighting?

Or, a family where both parents live together but one parent is never at home? Always working, always away on weekends and never around for the kids.

What about blended families? Does blending suddenly unbreak “broken homes”?

What about the blended families where the culture is more like oil and water?

So, what do my kids think of our family? A happy and loving household, a close knit family unit, and a life full of hope and promise.
Copyright ©2011 The Smart Divorce® and Deborah Moskovitch
All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Deborah Moskovitch and The Smart Divorce.

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How you can forgive your ex-spouse

Forgiveness and letting go are topics that often arise in my divorce consulting practice. The individuals who were “wronged” either through betrayal, shattered promises, or a whole host of other reasons want an apology. Many feel that having a sense that justice has been done will ease the emotional trauma. But, the truth is, an apology or restitution is unlikely to happen. Even when apologies happen, offended parties tend to perceive them as less complete and sincere than they ought to be.

I hear:

“He had an affair, he was wrong, and I want him to get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness.”

“He promised we would spend the rest of our lives together, and now he’s leaving? I hate him; he deserves nothing!”

And the extreme, “I’m going to cut his !@#$ off, he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, only to be in pain for the rest of his life -just like Lorena Bobbitt did to her husband.”

To read the full article, click on the link

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Grey divorce is on the rise — Huffington Post

Recent statistics show that the divorce rate has increased significantly amongst couples who have been in long term marriages of 20, 30 years or longer. Just look at Tipper and Al Gore, Kurt and Martha Schrader, Cameron Crowe and Nancy Wilson, Sumner Redstone and Phyllis Gloria Raphael, are some couples that spring to mind. People seem to be scratching their heads and asking, if these couples have made their marriage work this long, why couldn’t they last “till death do us part.

To read the full article in The Huffington Post, click on the link below:


Coping with the personality disordered spouse

Our guest, Emily Brown, is Director of Key Bridge Therapy & Mediation Center in Arlington, VA. ( works with couples, individuals, and families regarding the underlying issues in marriage, divorce, and betrayal. Battles over custody and related issues that are fueled by a personality disordered spouse can be the most frustrating of all wars.  The judges regularly get conned by the personality disordered spouse who makes nice in front of the judge; the other spouse who is angry and upset appears to be the problem.  Emily has worked with a number of these cases, trying to extricate the victimized spouse – and overcoming the frustration which many experience.  Tough cases, but she likes the challenge.

Topics in this program include:

  • Insight into personality disorder
  • How to deal with a persistent blamer, and managing within the legal system
  • How to help children when their parent is personality disordered
  • Finding the help you need to cope
  • The purpose of child custody evaluations with a personality disordered ex spouse.

Click on the link to hear the full interview