The Smart Divorce® Weblog

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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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Change Your Brain, Transform Relationships

What if you could change the negative thoughts and behaviors that have been detrimental to healthy relationships in the past? Have you ever had feelings of being blamed, unappreciated, rejected or even un-loved in a past or current relationship? Imagine what would happen if you were able to “rewire” your brain and eliminate your negative feelings and replace them with positive feelings that make you feel  accepted, appreciated valued, loved and successful.

David Folk

David Folk

On this episode of The Smart Divorce, recorded at The Family Support Expo in Toronto, co-founder of NEXT Integrative Mind Sciences, David Folk joins us to discuss the potential to changing our brain and transform relationships. (Neuroplasticity)

David’s NEXT program guides students through a series of exercises that teach you to utilize your brain’s own natural plasticity by creating new and lasting patterns of behavior.  Armed with new abilities for emotional behavioral regulation, graduates of the couples and families program consistently report radical improvements to their relationships compared to when they began the program.

Learn how developments in neuroscience can benefit your life in this exciting program.  For more information on David Folk and the NEXT program, visit: www.The NextProgram.com.

To listen click here


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Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce

There’s a great new initiative  developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and Sesame Street which is an an important and valuable resource for parents, Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce . The program, featuring Muppet Abby Cadabby, provides tools and language to help young children (ages 2-8) cope with and understand divorce at an age-appropriate level. Project resources include a free mobile app, online resources, and multimedia toolkits containing a children’s storybook, a caregiver guide, and a DVD. These materials are available online at sesamestreet.org/divorce and through the Resource Center on the AFCC website. Divorce can be a big challenge for both children and parents. Though times may be difficult, children can emerge feeling loved and supported. You can all grow through these family changes and discover just how strong you really are.

You are not alone. Family, friends, neighbors, and others are there to offer support. Here are some tools to help your child through your divorce.

To view this fabulous new program and for more details click here 

Information from the SesameWorkshop

Each year about 1.5 million children confront the divorce of their parents1, a transition that can be challenging for the entire family, especially young children. While 40% of families experience this, there are few resources to show children they are not the only ones with big questions and feelings about divorce.  In response, Sesame Workshop has launched Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, a series of free multi-media resources, to support families through this transition which can be very difficult, especially for young children. These new materials are a continuation of Sesame Workshop’s award-winning Military Families Initiative launched in 2006 that provides resources and emotional support to military families with children, ages 2 to 8, coping with challenging transitions in their lives.

As with all content produced by Sesame Workshop, this outreach initiative began with a thorough research process, which included consulting with an advisory board of key experts in child development, early childhood, and mental health fields to guide and shape key content messages. Continuing the process, Sesame Workshop conducted focus groups with parents and service providers to ensure that all of the resources effectively meet the needs of children and families.  Sesame Workshop created Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, in order to:

  • Provide tools and language to help young children (ages 2–8) cope with and understand divorce at an age-appropriate level,
  • aid families in communicating and expressing feelings around divorce and
  • reassure children that they will be cared for, and that—together with their families—they can learn ways to adjust to their new life and have hope for the future.

“With our new resources on divorce, Sesame Workshop continues a 43-year-long history of tackling the most relevant and challenging issues for children,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “During difficult times, it’s vitally important that children feel supported and develop coping skills that will help them throughout their entire lives.  Sesame Workshop is committed to providing the highest quality resources to families dealing with life’s challenges.”

Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce includes:

  • A new Sesame Street DVD, featuring the Muppets and real families, that highlights strategies around expressing emotions and how to talk to children about divorce;
  • A Parent/Caregiver Guide providing helpful resources, language and advice for discussing divorce with children and helping them navigate changes;
  • A Children’s StorybookTwo-Hug Day, about a young boy named Niko who is transitioning between his parents’ two homes, and
  • An online toolkit at sesamestreet.org/divorce providing access to all project resources, as well as additional online-only materials:
    • An Extended Family & Friends tip sheet
    • Webinars and online discussion sessions giving service providers and families a thorough understanding of how to engage with their families and communities
    • A Facebook page called Sesame Street in Communities connecting our online community to Sesame’s resiliency messages and materials.
  • A mobile app: Sesame Street: Divorce, featuring resources and tools for parents and caregivers; available on the App Store (SM) and Google Play ™.

“With the frequency of children experiencing divorce and or separation today, it is critical to help children understand that the feelings or questions they may have are typical and should be discussed with a parent or caregiver, said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop.  “These strategies will help children cope with changes as well as support them in understanding they are not alone.”

The resource kits will be distributed to military and veteran families through partnerships with Military OneSource, Department of Veterans Affairs, The USO, and The Military Child Education Coalition. These resources are also being distributed to families in the general public through national partnerships with organizations such the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. On a local level, distribution will reach children and their families though faith-based programs, school and after school programs, through counseling and mental health services, parenting programs, and child care systems. Military families can contact Military OneSource directly at militaryonesource.mil to request a kit.


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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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Divorcing Santa – Coparenting Through the Holidays Post-Divorce

My colleague Traci Whitney, founder of  Two Happy Homes has kindly submitted this article.

Please share your thoughts….how do you celebrate the holidays?

Wishing all my readers happy holidays and all the very best……Deborah

By Traci Whitney

Divorce is tough through any time of the year, but getting through the holidays post-divorce can be particularly rough.
This a time of year when you no doubt have a lot of mixed emotions about your ex, and maybe even some holiday memories, but whether they bring fond or sour feelings, this is the time when it’s necessary best to put the children first. Even though you may feel like steering clear of your ex right now, there is a lot going on with the kids, so you may have no choice but to work through some seasonal logistics. Being an excellent co-parent through the holidays may take a little extra effort, but it will make this time of year more peaceful for the whole family, including yourself.
Here are a few tips for peaceful coparenting through the holiday season…
1. Plan the parenting schedule ahead of time. Now is the time to be talking about who gets the kids when over the holidays. Chances are, you already have these days figured out in your parenting plan. But if you don’t, then get this discussion out of the way now so that you both know what to expect when the holidays are upon us. This way you can let any other loved ones know what the schedule is, and everyone can plan accordingly. Getting the parenting schedule out of the way now allows you to enjoy the holidays later.
2. Make two lists, check them twice. If your kids make wish lists for presents – have them make two separate lists – one for each house. If there is one “master” list, then it can create stress between parents… Who saw it first? Who gets to pick out the kids top choices for gifts? Is there enough gifts on the list for two homes to split? What if you buy duplicates and the kids get upset about that?… it can get downright crazy. Have the kids make two lists, or if everyone is agreeable to one parent splitting the list between homes then that is fine too. Tell the kids ahead of time that if they get the same gift at both houses then that’s ok, sometimes just a little heads up can diffuse the situation ahead of time.
3. Communicate with your coparent about gifts for the kids. If your teen really wants to get concert tickets, and you’re considering shelling out a significant amount of money to buy them for her, then it’s best to make sure that your ex doesn’t have the same plan in mind. Keeping in touch now can make sure you avoid possible conflicts during the holidays, and we want to kids to enjoy them as much as possible.
4. Consider splitting the costs for big ticket items, but only if that item is easily shared between the two homes. Don’t agree to pitch in to buy a child a bike or a pet if it can really only stay at one house, this may lead to resentment later on between parents. A doll, electronic toy, or books can entertain kids at either house.
5. Don’t stress about spending money. There are a lot of resources out there for cutting costs over the holidays. One of my favorite places for finding new ideas is Pinterest. Check out blogs for tips on how to save money on gifts. This is an area that you have control of, in a post-divorce world that is not always easy to control, so take advantage of it and do some research and planning early. That way you can enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them!
6. Don’t put the kids in the middle. This is a special time of year for kids, and if you and your coparent are arguing about schedules or gifts, then the magic can be sucked right out of the holiday pretty quickly. Make sure to keep any discussions private so that your kids can enjoy the holidays stress-free.
7. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. This is my favorite time of year, and I’ll admit that being divorced, dealing with family schedules, blended family issues, etc., etc.,  can be quite stressful. Take some time to do the things you love around the holidays, even if that means springing for a babysitter for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself. For me, this means wrapping presents with some eggnog and watching It’s a Wonderful Life – simple, but this is something that I have made my own tradition post-divorce, just for me. I also take time to create traditions for just me and the kids, so they have the joy (and stability) of memories created year after year.

 


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Divorce Proofing the Family Business

Breakups can taken an emotional and financial toll on the extended family 

Divorce or the breakdown of a relationship is an extremely emotional process. People are often confused, filled with fear and unsure of how to navigate the process. Their world is turned upside down, triggering unsettling and distressful emotions. The effects of the emotional distress and the impact on extended family can be devastating.

Close to 50 per cent of marriages in North America end in divorce. The divorce rate rises to a staggering 60 per cent and higher for subsequent divorces by these same individuals. Clearly, we need to employ strategies that will get everyone, including those caught in the middle — often the children — off the “divorce-go-round” and on to a better life. We need to encourage healthy new beginnings, even when divorce looks like an end.

While divorce is often seen as a personal matter, when a Family Business is involved, divorce suddenly becomes everyone’s business. It is not uncommon for the effect of divorce to bog down the extended family unit, creating complications, reduced productivity, distress and even dissention amongst family members. And, while you might have many high net worth clients whose family businesses might be affected, a Family Business does not have to be a multimillion-dollar enterprise to be a concern to family members.  There are numerous family business that generate a more modest income, yet support a number of families within the extended family unit.

For most people going through divorce, the largest assets are usually the marital home, perhaps an RRSP, pension and some investments.  However, when there is a Family Business – that business is usually one of the largest and most significant (marital) assets.  And, it’s an issue whatever the position of the soon to be divorcee  — whether an employee, partner, participant, Board member, shareholder, or beneficiary.   It is not uncommon for a family’s wealth, net worth and income to be tied together, and the principal asset for all family members.

Click on the link to view the whole article Divorce Proofing the Family Business


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The Family Support Expo is coming to Toronto!

Don’t miss out on the 1st annual Family Support Expo  — Raising Awareness, Reducing Stigma Separation and Divorce The Toronto International Centre will be the home of the Family Support Expo on October 20 -21, 2012

Supporting families in transition, from pregnancy through adolescence and beyond!

The first North American expo bringing together all of the resources needed to support families dealing with Separation & Divorce, Medical, Mental Health, and other lifestyle issues.

The Family Support Expo is for parents, grandparents, caregivers, children and professionals.  The Expo provides information to help build and support a healthy family.

Exhibitors will showcase a variety of services and products and will offer access to community resources, organizations and experts in the industry.

All families experience challenges. Whether it is a child struggling with a medical issue or special need, a senior suffering from an illness, a family on the heels of divorce or separation, or another serious challenge – you are not alone and help is available.

The Expo seeks to revolutionize how families deal with these challenges.

The 3 general areas of focus for the Expo are:

Within these three areas there are many sub-categories.

Separation & Divorce

  • Help finding a professional (Family Mediator, Family Lawyer, Accountant, Real Estate Agent, mortgage broker, etc.)
  • Education and resources to help your family moving forward

Please stop by my booth, Deborah Moskovitch – The Smart Divorce and Divorce Coach, where I will be speaking and selling my resources helping individuals through their divorce  — maintaining their sanity, cutting down on legal costs, and helping to manage the divorce process in a healthier and happier way.

I will also be participating in a panel discussion with Toronto’s leading divorce professionals and moderated by Breakfast Television’s very own Kevin Frankish.

Don’t miss out on this new and unique event.  While the Expo cannot guarantee solutions to all areas of challenge, it stands to provide families with actionable advice and support that will leave them hopeful and optimistic moving forward.

For more information visit: http://familysupportexpo.com


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Keeping the Family Foundation Grounded

Family is The Foundation of Our Society

I interviewed Dave Quist of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio.  Tune in to hear this great perspective and ideas on keeping the family together.

The health of our children, communities and nation depends on strong families. The institute of marriage and family Canada (IMFC) states that the aim of society and government policy should be to protect and support this foundation.  How is this accomplished?

David QuistOur guest, Dave Quist, Executive Director of theInstitute of Marriage and Family Canada  (http://www.imfcanada.org/) outlines the many challenges facing families today, and provides ideas for overcoming the obstacles for confronting families in our fast paced society. Mr. Quist has been an active participant in an annual, international meeting of think tanks who collaborate to advance the position that marriage and strong families act as a protector against poverty.  This is a energetic conversation brimming with ideas for developing stronger, healthier family relationships.

Topics include:

  • Staying connected with the “family dinner”
  • Pre-marriage counseling
  • The challenges of family financing
  • Understanding the “me” generation
  • How to make relationships stronger with your children and within your marriage
  • Making marriages successful rather than divorce easier
  • What co-parents need to understand so that children become positive contributors to society
  • The cultural shift of marriage
  • And, so much more……

The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) conducts, compiles and presents the latest and most accurate research to ensure that marriage and family-friendly policy are foremost in the minds of Canada’s decision makers.

To hear the interview click on the link:

http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/family-the-foundation-our-society/


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It’s All About The Kids, “Stupid” – Parenting During Divorce

One of the most important concerns parents have post divorce is how their time is to be shared between their children.  Is there such a thing about the right parenting plan or how parenting time is shared?  In this episode of The Smart Divorce with Deborah Moskovitch, our guest Dr. Phil Stahl  has some very insightful answers and thoughts on parenting during divorce.

Dr. Stahl is one of the North America’s foremost parenting experts; a practitioner, author, and teacher, specializing in high conflict families of divorce. He has served on numerous committees and task forces designed to improve the quality of work in his field. He teaches judges, attorneys, psychologists and other mental health professionals about issues affecting families and children. His expertise is accepted in courts across the country.

If you are a parent going through a divorce, you will want to learn more about custody evaluations and some of the issues affecting families and children. This show is insightful for grandparents and step-parents…..or anyone who wants a better understanding of the parenting plan and putting the children’s best interests first.

Topics include:

  • Communication blunders, and apologizing to our children for our mistakes
  • Wise advice from Dr. Stahl’s book – Parenting After Divorce
  • What makes a good parenting plan
  • Parenting plan ideas
  • Parenting through conflict
  • How to share your child – your child is not a percentage

For more on Dr. Stahl, visit: http://www.parentingafterdivorce.com/index.html

To hear this insightful interview chock full of great advice tune in at http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/its-all-about-the-kids-stupid-parenting-during-divorce/


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Fathers are Important Too

Kids Need Their Fathers, During and After Divorce

One of the sad realities of divorce and the outcome is fatherlessness.  In this episode of The Smart Divorce with Deborah Moskovitch, we discuss the need for fathers to stay involved in their kids lives, especially during and after divorce.

Deborah Moskovitch

Deborah Moskovitch

It is more common for father’s relationships to be thinned out more than mothers.  While a lot of attention and research has focused on single-parent families where the parent is the mother, limited attention has focused on single-parent families where the father is the parent. Single-father families are a small, but growing segment of our society. But what happens when dads aren’t involved?

Deborah Moskovitch and Steve Peck explore this issue, and help provide an understanding of fatherlessness, while providing ideas for staying connected.

Did you know:

  • Up to 25% of children do not see their father by 2-3 years after divorce
  • Daughters that do not have a relationship with their father are more likely to have long term emotional issues – are more promiscuous and less likely to graduate from high school and college; while sons are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior
  • 80% of the daughters and sons in the U.S. only live with their fathers for a maximum of 10 to 15 percent of the time after their parents divorce

Tune in to discover what can be done and how you can overcome these obstacles. There’s been research that shows when fathers are more involved in their kids’ lives — they are less likely to divorce themselves.

Also, Like us on our Facebook pages, The Smart Divorce and Divorce Source Radio.  Join the community!

To hear this interview, click on the link

http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/kids-need-their-fathers-during-and-after-divorce/