Effects of Divorce on School Aged Children

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The big glass framed entrance door of the elementary school was the pre-arranged spot where father and his 6-year old son were to meet and leave for their lunch date. The anticipation of this encounter was noticeable on the smiling face of the grade one student, beaming with anticipation. As the lunch break drew to a close, his little face was following each car coming around the corner of the road passing by the school. His nose was white from being pressed against the glass for this long period of time. Sometimes he would bring a friend who would join in the wait. He returned to class day after day, disappointed and absent minded, never letting go of his fantasy that his dad might show up…maybe tomorrow, or the next day.

Having worked in this elementary school for four years I have seen similar events such as:

  • children arriving late to school because of a trip to the store to buy cigarettes for a parent;
  • children being dropped off without proper clothing or lunch because it was the day of parental exchange and clothing was not part of the exchange;
  • children receiving awards without anyone attending their ceremonies because the parents could not agree who would attend;
  • children arriving at school too sick to sit in class and spending the day in the office infirmary, and so the list goes on.

There are, of course, often situations that could have simple explanations, without any ill intent.  Or they could be a result of family rupture or parental distress. The effect on the children is, however, the same; a massive struggle to master their conflicts and fears, undermined by feelings of helplessness, loneliness, rejection and loss.

Ages and Stages
Six to eight year olds may experience fear increasing to panic with disorganized behavior and worries about not having enough food, toys or other things perceived as necessary to their survival. Children need continued reassurance that they are okay.

While children at this age can tolerate more flexibility with plans, predictability and consistency are still important and the number of disappointments should be minimal; and the child should still be adequately prepared for changes in plans.

When parents separate there is confusion and disruption of the child’s individual sense of identity, as identity is still closely tied to the family structure. The youngest in this age group may assume personal responsibility for causing the separation. Fantasies of reconciliation are strongly present.

Cooperative Parenting
Cooperative parenting means keeping each other informed about pending events in the child’s life.  If this doesn’t work smoothly, parents can request that the school keep both parents apprised of school activities and schedules and informed about any difficulty a child may be experiencing.

It should not always be up to one parent to inform the other, and it certainly should not be the child’s responsibility. Once the school informed the father in this story of his son’s unwavering determination to wait for him at the front door, he realized the importance of a casual remark made to his son and settled on a once-a-week lunch date. When the father arrived, the introduction by his son was reminiscent of a head of state arriving at school! At last he was living his fantasy!

Parenting Plan
A good parenting plan will enable both parents to attend activities such as school events and extra-curricular activities. The presence of the parents will greatly enhance the child’s experience. A good choice is to have the two parents’ homes within the same school district so the children’s community of friends can overlap.  It is important for both parents equally to accommodate the child’s need to be with school friends (activities or play dates) on weekends and school holidays. It is a good idea to have their friends invited to both homes. Children are learning important social skills about the give and take of relationships, how to be fair and who is a good friend and who is not.

For more information, view Fairway Divorce Solutions: A Guide for Divorcing Parents

Author: Erika Deines @ Fairway Divorce Solutions®

Pope Francis embracing divorced families… finally

Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church became the first Pope to say people who are divorced and their children are not living in sin and the church should keep it’s door open to them.

Equal treatment and acceptance of remarried Catholics? That is definitely trend setting!

I applaud the Pope’s open declaration of the need to update the Catholic church’s position on the subject of divorce. Hopefully with this public declaration, action will be taken to fully execute such position, so that Catholics no longer have to get an annulment or be disallowed to remarry in Catholic churches. Divorce is tough enough, we don’t need any hurdles, we need support on the journey to recovery.

I don’t really care if this move is driven by a real belief that divorced people and their children are not sinners, or that the Catholic Church is only doing this because it wants to keep Catholics loyal as some people have suggested. Who cares. It is about time! Bravo Pope Francis. This adds to his long list of unprecedented acts as the head of the Catholic Church. Now, let’s make sure this declaration is followed through. I, for one, will be watching for further development.

Introducing is an extremely active and engaging online community that is 100% devoted to empowering mothers who are thinking about getting a divorce, separated or already divorced. This website receives 2,500,000+ visits a year and has more than 5,000 pages of expert advice and blog posts. There is new content on this website daily.

There are 20 blogs within the site all written by mothers. They share real stories based on personal experience on relationship trouble, infidelity, raising children as single mothers, the battles the had over child support and custody, emotional struggles, dating again and as step-mothers in blended families.

This website also has professionals offering expert advice to women to help them prepare and understand what lies ahead if they are filing for divorce, the divorce law, what to expect as they go through the process, how to deal with your difficult ex and to move forward with your life.

Many of the articles and blog posts have been reposted on other websites, including Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, and The Good Men Project.

As you read the pages on, you will cry, laugh and dream again. If you are ready to join this community, click here.


Welcome to the 21st Century of Divorce

Welcome to the 21st century; where you can find love online and then serve them with divorce papers in the same manner.

For those that have not logged on, a New York judge has said that the social media site, Facebook, is an acceptable way for a Brooklyn woman to serve her husband with divorce papers. Of course, this case has a number of complications that support the judge’s decision. There however are many challenging opinions regarding this case; one opinion in particular was mentioned in my very own office when an employee asked “what is the world coming to that we use social media to facilitate a divorce?” That question sat with me for the rest of the afternoon and evening and I found myself bouncing back and forth on my opinion regarding this case. My internal debate broke down the opposing perspectives on the topic and it resulted in the ultimate question of the battle; why are people still trying to maintain the privacy of divorce when it is unachievable?

The chase of attempting to make divorce private is a fraud. You may keep specific details from people that you believe do not need to know the details. This decision however is nothing but ironic for two different reasons:

  • Court records and court proceedings, in most circumstances, are open to the public. The article Divorce Records and Privacy states that “your friends, colleagues, neighbours, and the curious could learn the details of the accusations made by you and by your spouse, or partner regardless of the truth of these allegations”. This demonstrates that the illusion of keeping the process of divorce between the once was couple is in fact just that, an illusion.
  • In addition, couples get married in a very public manner and usually publicly change their relationship status to “married” on Facebook once the deed is done. The happy couple receives congratulations from family, friends and acquaintances. Through their relationship, the couple will post memories of being with one another, where again, the public are able to comment on the photos.  This is a popular display of love online; but what online announcements happen when this happy couple gets divorced? Before divorce is even complete, I am confident that each partner changes their Facebook relationship status back to “single” or “complicated”; this status change publicly announces your private relationship to the public.  And if you do not put the details of your divorce on Facebook, they can easily research your divorce proceedings on their own.

The woman from Brooklyn who served her husband papers online therefore didn’t challenge the privacy of divorce; she merely took control of what was never private and used it to support her in the process of her divorce.

Dear readers and fellow bloggers, what are your thoughts and experiences on the privacy of divorce?

The Dangers of Grey Divorce

As much as we’d all like to imagine spending our sunset years rocking on the front porch next to our longtime spouse, the sad truth is that life doesn’t always turn out that way. There’s no age limit on relationship troubles, and many seniors find themselves dealing with divorce at a time when they should be settling down.

“Grey divorce,” as it’s come to be known, refers to the increasing divorce rate among older Canadian couples. Recent numbers from Statistics Canada show that the divorce rate among couples aged 50 to 54 is 38 percent, couples aged 55 to 59 is 48 percent, and couples aged 60 to 64 is 32 percent.

The Cost of Divorce

The problem extends far beyond the emotional toll on both parties. Divorce is often associated with financial difficulties, particularly for older Canadians. Divorces can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 in legal fees alone. There’s also the danger of one person being saddled with the couple’s lifetime of debt. I’ve seen people suddenly faced with tens of thousands of dollars in debt — something that is far from easy to tackle solo. Separation also means maintaining two households instead of one. On a fixed income this can be hard to accomplish resulting in the possibility of racking up new credit card debt.

Seniors and Debt: A Disturbing Trend

It’s safe to say that grey divorce is one reason that seniors and baby boomers occupy the fastest-rising spot when it comes to Canada’s rising consumer debt levels. According to our own Joe Debtor research study, Canadians aged 50 and older represent almost one-third of all insolvent debtors and the rate is growing. Even more disturbing, we found that the typical pre-retirement debtor aged 50 to 59 is carrying the highest unsecured debt of all age groups: $68,493. Worse still, pre-retirement debtors and seniors were the only age groups still increasing their overall unsecured debt load as of 2014.

Of course, divorce isn’t the only culprit here. Seniors also often find themselves dealing with lower incomes, pressure to support adult children and parents, and health issues. By the time they reach retirement age, they may be carrying more debt than they can possibly manage — divorce or no divorce.

Dealing with Debts and Moving On

It’s hard to move on from a nasty divorce when you’re dealing with excessive debts, which is why it’s so important to create a recovery plan early on. Once you have a handle on how much you owe post-divorce, create a budget and realistically consider how long it will take to get back on firm financial footing. If you’re dealing with excessive amounts of debt or high-interest loans, you may need to consider seeking help from a professional. Filing for bankruptcy or a consumer proposal may be able to help you get past this difficult phase and on with your life.

Ted Michalos is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and a Licensed Bankruptcy Trustee. As a co-founder & President of Hoyes, Michalos & Associates, he speaks regularly at local commerce and professional events about insolvency issues and has testified before the Canadian Senate on issues of bankruptcy legislation. His expertise focuses primarily on helping individuals solve their financial problems.

A Story of Persistence and Perseverance

For years now, I have been advocating for major changes to be made in the way in which family law matters are handled. As a result of recent experiences of mine, I have decided to share some of the many challenges I have encountered in my efforts and describe what I have done to overcome them. Before doing so, I feel compelled to share something that Robin J. Scher, Esq. of Palm Beach, Florida said about me to her fellow members of the Family Law Section of the Florida State Bar in reference to some of my work because she was absolutely correct. Ms. Scher said that “Mark Baer is an outspoken proponent of an overhaul of the US family law court to one he perceives to be more family oriented.” The reason I decided to include Ms. Scher’s comment in this article is her use of the word “perceives.” What I am attempting to accomplish is based upon the way in which I understand the situation. If my understanding of the problem is incorrect for some reason, my proposed solutions to it will be flawed. Furthermore, even if my understanding is accurate, I recognize that there is more than one way of solving any given problem. For this reason, I keep stating that the perception that perception is reality is merely a perception.

In any event, I’m going to start my story with the invitation I received from a colleague in Maryland to be included on a panel program pertaining to collaborative divorce at the American Bar Association Family Law Section 2013 Spring CLE Conference. I had never attended an ABA event and was thrilled to have been invited to participate on the panel and accepted the invitation. The program was titled “Navigating the Emotional Currents of Collaborative Law.” Shortly after agreeing to participate, I requested that they replace “Collaborative” with “Family” in the title of the program because all family law attorneys need to navigate “the emotional currents of family law,” regardless of the process used. I explained that by including the word “Collaborative” in the title, they would be limiting attendance merely to the relatively small percentage of attorneys who are interested in the “collaborative divorce” process. However, I was informed that there were “political reasons” why the word “Collaborative” had to remain in the title of the program.

I therefore proceeded to write an article for collaborative law program, which literally took me over 150 hours to compete. Ultimately, the panel decided to center the entire program around that article. Although the program was very well received, it is important to note that we were placed in the smallest room and it was only filled to approximately one-third of its capacity. In other words, it was anticipated that attendance would be fairly limited because the program was about the “collaborative divorce” model. This is yet another example of why I continue to say that outcomes are typically determined by the way in which the “game” is designed.

About one month after the program, I received a letter from the editor of the “American Journal of Family Law,” which stated in pertinent part as follows:  “You were on the program at the Spring 2013 ABA Family Law Section meeting speaking on the emotional aspects of collaborative law. This is an area of interest to our national audience of matrimonial practitioners. We would like to invite you to author an article for publication in the American Journal of Family Law based on your expertise in this area, or on a related subject.”

I contacted the editor and told him about the “political” issues I had encountered with the ABA and asked if he would be interested in my writing an article more along the lines of what I had wanted to do with the ABA program itself. Fortunately, he responded as follows: “I am delighted that you will be writing an article for the American Journal of Family Law on the emotional aspects of Family Law. This is a subject of great interest to our audience.”

The article I submitted was titled “The Perfect Storm: Lawyer Limitations and the Adversarial Model in Family Law,” which was published in the Winter 2014 edition of the American Journal of Family Law.

Meanwhile, I had been involved on the Public Outreach and Social Media Committee for Collaborative Practice California (CPCal). At my suggestion, one of the ways in which the committee members were promoting “Collaborative Practice” was by attempting to find quality and positive articles on the process on a weekly basis, that we would all share over the social media and comment upon in the Family Law Professionals LinkedIn group. My job was to find such articles, post them in the Family Law Professionals LinkedIn group and email the committee members with the “New Articles for Discussion.” In my email, I would include the title of the article, the link to the article itself and the link to the particular discussion in the Family Law Professionals LinkedIn group. My email would also request that they read the discussion and attached article and comment.

While not all of the committee members would participate in this effort, many of them did. However, I noticed something odd when I shared “A Comparison of Dispute Resolution Methods Available in Family Law Matters,” a chapter Aspatore Inside the Minds: Strategies for Family Law in California, 2013 ed., published by Aspatore Books, a Thompson Reuters business, July 2013. You see, for the first time, nobody on the committee shared or commented on an article I had provided to them. The chapter discussed the “collaborative divorce” process. In fact, the publisher had made me expand upon that section before publishing it by asking me to address the following questions: “What is your experience with collaborative divorce? Do you find it helpful? Does it resolve issues that other forms of dispute resolution either ignore or barely touch? Does it only apply to certain types of clients/disputes?”

Regardless, the committee members essentially ignored the chapter and the discussion I had posted on it. I found this incredibly frustrating and upsetting, especially in light of the fact that I had received the following email about that chapter from California Certified Family Law Specialist Terry McNiff, who also authored a chapter that was published in that book: “I have admired your prolific work and efforts on the LinkedIn Groups. This morning I had a chance to read your insightful article at the front of the new book we both contributed to, Inside the Minds: Strategies for Family Law in California, 2013 ed. Of course, I noticed your excellent article identifying dispute resolution options was first. I have to admit your article deserved to be first.” It bears mentioning that I had not authored those articles I provided to the committee members, which they did share and comment upon. On top of everything else, in order to be published in that book, I gave the publisher the copyright to the material and received no compensation in return. In addition, to obtain the link and share the chapter with others, I had to pay the publisher $1,000.00. To say that I was incensed by the fact that my fellow committee members refused to share or comment on that chapter would be an understatement. Ultimately, this sort of uncollaborative behavior caused me to resign from my various committees within the “collaborative divorce” community and I have not attended a “collaborative divorce” conference since.

Thereafter, I contacted Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW, asking if he might be interested in submitting a proposal to present with me at the Association Of Family And Conciliation Courts Annual Conference that would be taking place in Toronto, Canada in May 2014. I told Mr. Direnfeld my idea and we titled the program “Lawyer Strategies for De-Escalating Parental Conflict through Service Delivery.” Other than my respecting Mr. Direnfeld’s work, I didn’t believe that my program would be seriously considered if I didn’t join forces with a mental health professional. Regardless, AFCC declined our proposal and I decided not to submit a proposal to present at conferences since that time for a variety of reasons.

Nevertheless, I still felt that the presentation I wanted to give on the subject of de-escalating conflict was important and greatly needed. I finally had the opportunity to test out my belief, when I received an email on January 12, 2015 that the San Gabriel Valley Family Law Study Group needed speakers for both the February and March meetings. I volunteered to present and they accepted. The program was titled “De-Escalating Parental Conflict Through Service Delivery” and I presented it at the meeting that took place on February 5, 2015. It focused on strategies and behaviors attorneys can leverage to reduce the risk of parental conflict. I didn’t know what to expect, considering that I was presenting to family law litigators. To my surprise, the program was very well received and I continued receiving positive feedback from those in attendance for the following two months.

I was subsequently invited to present on April 15, 2015 at one of Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt & Klein, LLP’s monthly lunch continuing legal education meetings at their office. Considering the response I had received from the presentation to the San Gabriel Valley Family Law Study Group, I asked if I could give them that same presentation and they approved my request. I changed the program title to “De-Escalating Conflict Through Service Delivery” and emailed them my written materials two days in advance of the presentation.

When I arrived at their office, John Chason, CFLR, the attorney in that office responsible for my being a featured presenter, told me that one of the firm’s law clerks mentioned that she had previously read one of the articles included in my materials. She is an LLM student at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine, which is ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the 11th consecutive year. As it turns out, one of her professors provided a copy of my article titled “The Perfect Storm: Lawyer Limitations and the Adversarial Model in Family Law” to his students to read. Up until then, I had absolutely no idea that any of my articles were being used to teach law and/or mediation students. As far as that particular article was concerned, all I knew was that it had been published and was yet another of my articles that was essentially ignored by the “collaborative divorce” community.

In any event, I am very pleased to report that the program was very well received and that the attorneys had me cover a few other concepts, even after the 1 hour time frame had lapsed. The questions and comments were very thoughtful and a number of the attorneys approached me afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed the presentation and that they found the information very interesting and useful. Later that evening, the LLM student sent me the following email: “I really enjoyed your presentation today at FMBK and wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me afterward. It was a pleasure to meet you and I will look forward to reading more of your work in this area.” The next day, I received the following email from the Marketing Manager at Feinberg Mindel Brandt & Klein, LLP: “Thank you for such a wonderful presentation yesterday. Everyone loved what you had to say! Thanks!”

This is a story about persistence and perseverance.  Persistence is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition” and perseverance is defined as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”  My experience has been challenging, enlightening, and ultimately very rewarding.