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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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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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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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Blog now added to Law Blogs!

My blog has recently been added to Law Blogs, which is part of one of the largest networks of blog directories on the Web. Please visit my blog’s personal page to vote for my blog and comment to other blog users.


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Be Creative with Your Mediation

New on The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source Radio:

We welcome back our guest, Mark Baer (http://www.markbaeresq.com/), a family law attorney, mediator, and collaborative law practitioner in Pasadena, California and who has been practicing for twenty years.  Mark shares his opinions and views about the family law system, how it can be better and provide more creative ways on getting through divorce.  Deborah Moskovitch, Steve Peck and Mark explore a variety of concepts regarding mediation.  This program isn’t just a standard outline of mediation, but shakes it up a little in this controversial and lively discussion.

 

Divorce Mediation

Mark Baer

How do you think outside the box in mediation? Mark Baer encourages you to ponder as we discuss:

  • The way in which bias impacts family law litigation
  • Why “evaluative mediation” is not really mediation, even though most lawyers and judicial officers believe otherwise
  • Whether family law attorneys should have higher ethical obligations than other attorneys
  • Funding your children’s college/university education when child support isn’t enough or stops
  • What money represents

There seems to be a major disconnect between the way the public views mediation and how the attorneys and judicial officers view as mediation.  This is a conversation that is steeped in controversy.  Tune in and then let us hear your thoughts on our Facebook fan pages…and don’t forget to like us.   The Smart Divorce http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Smart-Divorce/202908933137654 and www.Facebook.com/DivorceSourceRadio


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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:

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/DeborahMoskovitchAndRobertASim

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 info@thesmartdivorce.com, or call 905.695.0270.


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The Finances of the Grey Divorce

I’m Divorced, Now How Am I Going to Retire?

The Smart Divorce on Divorce Source RadioFor the new generation of empty-nesters, divorce is becoming more common.  Moreover, among people ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has doubled over the past 20 years.  It used to be that as people got aged, the chances of divorce declined – but this is no longer the case.  Given that the aging population is living longer and healthier, retiring post divorce is an issue for the grey divorce segment.

Eva Sachs on Divorce Source Radio

On this episode of The Smart Divorce with Deborah Moskovitch, our guest is Eva Sachs, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and founder of Women in Divorce Financial http://www.WomenInDivorce.ca discusses the many concerns, considerations and consequences of financial planning post divorce for the older divorcee.

What do you need to think about, is a question many ponder. We answer that question and explore more:

  • Creative solutions for a financially prudent separation agreement
  • Adjusting to lifestyle differences post divorce
  • Managing debt with less
  • Medical/health benefits
  • Retirement plans for the divorced
  • The home as a burden or asset

Find out how to protect yourself and develop a list of questions, as you work through your finances for a financially secure retirement.

http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/im-divorced-now-how-am-i-going-to-retire/


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The Financial Realities of Divorce

The Finances of Divorce

A client came into my office the other day in tears. She was just about to sign papers to purchase her new home, but was now feeling unsure of her decision. My client was in the middle of negotiating her financial agreement and wanted to prepare herself for the fresh start she desired once her divorce became final.

After a few more tears and 30 minutes of talking, she began to understand how the “emotional divorce” could impact “the legal divorce.” What this means is that there are two sides of divorce to wade through — the emotional and the legal. Divorce is upper-case Emotional, and if not managed properly, it can wreak havoc on the legal process and financial outcomes. While it would be really nice if the two elements could be handled one after the other — you could spend a few years dealing with the emotional issues, and then, heart and head clear, go through the legal process — but the truth is that emotions and legal processes cannot be clinically separated, and usually have to be managed at the same time.

To read the rest of my article which appeared on The Huffington Post, click on the link

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-moskovitch/the-finances-of-divorce_b_1214050.html