Patterns and Similarities

June 19, 2016

As I’ve spent the past couple of years working with people and helping them
through the journey that is divorce, I’ve started to see patterns emerge.

As unique as every person is and as individual as every marriage is, there
really are similarities.

Unless you’ve actually been through a divorce before, you have no idea what
you are about to face… the lovely process that is divorce.

I don’t care how fabulous your lawyer is, they are not going to tell you
everything because it is just too much to deal with and again, unless
you’ve been through it…and they don’t see it from the eyes of the new
person that is facing having to deal with a divorce, with no understanding
of what that means. And who feels like their life is ending and their world
is imploding.

The actual ending of the marriage, the divorce paperwork, is the
easiest part. It’s everything that goes before it that’s difficult.

Too many people let things drag on too long for fear of rocking the boat
or not wanting to upset the other party too much. This seems to happen,
to be done by “nice” guys way too often. And they often end up losing a lot
because of handing things this way. Money and time with their kids are the
biggies. They just want to choose the option that appears easiest to deal with,
either just leaving things as they are, or even not dealing with them.

But what I have seen in the long run is the opposite.

Not making decisions, letting things go, not nailing down details creates
bigger problems the longer the situation goes on. And it creates a precedent
for not changing things.
If things have been okay like this for this long, why
do they need changing now? But they weren’t actually okay like that.  And
now it’s hard to go back and change it.

My advice is to find someone who understands what you are dealing with,
can help you understand what you need to pay attention to, and what the
consequences of the decisions and actions you are taking today are going to
have on your future. Find someone who can make sense of the insane world
you are dealing with at the moment. Who can help you sort through the
craziness you are dealing with.

At least then you will be making informed decisions.



Decisions you make today…

September 17, 2013

Yesterday was Stepfamily Day. I know you may never
have heard of the day, even though it was first started
in the U.S. 16 years ago, and I suspect right now, you
can’t even contemplate getting to the point where you
are part of a stepfamily. But, consider these facts:

  • One in three North Americans live in a stepfamily;
  • More than 50 per cent of North Americans will live
    in a stepfamily at some point of their lives;
  • 30 per cent of children are growing up in stepfamilies.

There is a very good chance you will end up in a stepfamily situation.

But then again, you may already know this. Apparently
“parenting differences” is the #1 reason that remarried
couples, sometimes called encore marriages, end up
breaking down. About 37 per cent of U.S. second marriages
end before they hit the 10-year mark. And 20 per cent of
Canadian second marriages never make it to the eight-year
mark. That’s one in every five second marriages!!

What the stats can’t tell us is the emotional turmoil that comes
with having to deal with divorce. The anger, the bitterness,
the vindictiveness, the sense of helplessness, the sense of
fear, the tiredness, the confusion…it goes on and on.  You
honestly don’t know what it’s like until you have personally
been in the situation.

And here’s something else you may not realize: the agreements
you make as you deal with your divorce — the parenting
agreements and the financial agreement — are what you will
be living with for the rest of your life.  It’s very very important
that you make the right choices and the right decisions at the
beginning of this process. It takes a lot of time and a lot of
awareness to figure it out.  And the legal process is a long,
complicated, convoluted one. Whether you choose to do
mediation or go to court, can cooperate civilly with your ex
or find yourself in an intensely high-conflict situation, it is
important that you handle things right, from the beginning.
Your future depends on it. And your future stepfamily will
be dealing with the choices you make now.

Something to keep in mind.



Broken…and sucking the life out of you….

October 20, 2011

The family court system in Ontario is so broken,
it’s not even funny.

It boggles my mind that the court system can give
you a date and a time and you show up, having
done hours of work, getting prepared mentally and
physically with the paper, and then you never even
get in front of the judge. And to have  it happen the
next time you attend court as well… just how does
that happen?  The system is broken.

I recently read a book by Carla Collins called
“Angels, Vampires, & Douche Bags.” Carla is a
world-class comedian, who went to high school in
Guelph, and now lives in California. I first met Carla
when she moved with her family from the Ontario Far
North to Guelph. She moved in down the street from
me and we became friends. It has been so interesting
to watch her rise to fame. And she is funnnnny!

I had the pleasure of seeing her perform when she came
back to Guelph this past summer.  What a night of laughter
that was! I got caught up with her and read her book.
More laughter and a lot of wisdom.

Her premise is that there are three types of people in the
world: the angels that appear out of nowhere, and give you
the love and helping hand you need – maybe for a day, maybe
for the rest of your life; the vampires that suck everything they
can from you and never give you anything back; and then, as
she puts it, there are the douche bags…those people that might
appear sexy or trendy and quite seductive, but are actually
intent on focusing on themselves and bringing others down,
sabotaging our progress and making our day-to-day lives more
stressful, painful, negative and less fulfilling.

In between laughs, I realized there was so much truth to what
she had written. I could immediately think of various people that
fell into each of those profiles. And then I thought this is what
the court system feels like: a giant vampire sucking everything it
can out of you. It takes energy and determination and perseverance
to stick with it and see your case through. And it slowly sucks the
soul right out of you.

And wow! Are there ever the douche bags just ready to rip your
heart out! Hmm…the vampires and the douche bags kind of blend
together after a while.

So, what do you do to protect yourself? You be as honest, open
and forthcoming as you can right from the start. You cross your t’s
and dot your i’s and make sure your credibility is established at the
start and continues all the way through.  You work with your lawyer
and other experts and get them the information they need as quickly
as you can. You don’t delay things needlessly and drag things out
unnecessarily. You don’t descend into the lion pit and try and be as
dignified and classy as you can be through the process in the hopes
that’s what you will receive in return.

It doesn’t matter what you think as you start your separation and
divorce process, you quickly come to some realizations: no matter
how civilized you thought you and partner were going to be, it doesn’t
stay that way; even when you seem to have no money or assets, it still
isn‘t easy; even when everyone tells you to “stay in the house”, that is one
of biggest soul-sucking exercises that exists—really; and this process is
not a fast one. So be prepared for the ride. And I highly recommend
finding ways to laugh…really laugh…as you deal with it all. It will help
to keep you sane. Take care of you.

Carla Collins and I, catching up




There never seems to be enough time…

August 9, 2011

Wow…time flies when you’re having fun…
or when you’re not.


If there is ever a time when you’re not having fun
and the To Do list is endless, it’s when you are
dealing with your divorce.


It’s kind of like writing a blog; you think you have
all the time in the world, columns ready to go, all
your facts and figures together….and then WHAM!
All of a sudden, you are behind. And need information
fast. And you’re pulling your hair out trying to get back
on top of things so that you can move forward.

First of all, recognize that you are not alone. It just feels
that way in the wee hours of the morning as you have to
hunt for that elusive piece of paper that backs up your
NFP.  I find that lighting a scented candle, and playing
soothing music, the kind you find at spas, helps and can
keep you focused. And awake. Oh, copious amounts of
chocolate works too!


Everyone leaves the crappy jobs to last. And digging
through boxes of paperwork sucks. Especially if it’s old
and you haven’t got a clue what you’re really looking for.


Where this stuff will become a real issue is if you have
to produce it for your lawyer to attach to an affidavit
tomorrow.  And you may not even have a copy in the house.
You may need to go back to the bank or the city tax office or
an appraiser to get the right document you need.  That’s when
it REALLY sucks.


Something to keep in mind as you pull your documents
together.  And if you really feel all alone, Divorce Details can help.
I’ve been there, more times than I can remember. Nothing
like getting an email at 1 a.m. in the morning day before
court from a lawyer asking if I’m still up and can find something.
Lucky for them, I was.