Unwanted Nasty Divorces
One passionate mother’s quiet revolution of discovery.
How to end the struggle of divorce and survive the journey.
Unwanted Nasty Divorces
One passionate mother’s quiet revolution of discovery.
How to end the struggle of divorce and survive the journey.
Distributed by Shakespir.
This book is available in print at most online retailers.
Copyright © 2016 Ravit Rose™.
All Rights Reserved.
Published by Ravit Rose™
Registration No. 1130922
Canadian Intellectual Property Office │ An Agency Of Industry Canada
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the author.
All names, characters and persons, specifically, Jane and John, referred to in this book are fictitious. While the stories come from situations and events shared by friends and colleagues, I have taken efforts to change names and adjust certain details in events so that any resemblance to any specific person (living or dead) or incident is purely coincidental.
Permission should be addressed in writing to:
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This book is designed and sold to provide information and motivation to our readers. The contents of the book are the opinions of the author and is not legal advice (or official policy) and you should not use or otherwise rely upon any of the contents without first seeking independent competent professional legal advice. It is sold with the understanding that the author, publisher and editors are not responsible for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information in this work, nor for any errors or omissions. It is understood that the author, publisher and editors are not engaged to render any type of psychological, legal, or any other kind of professional advice. No warranties or guarantees are expressed or implied. The author, publisher and editors expressly disclaim any and all liability to any person, whether a purchaser of this publication or not, in respect of anything and of the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, in whole or in part, on the contents of this book. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any physical, psychological, emotional, financial, or commercial damages, including, but not limited to, special, incidental, consequential or other damages. Our views and rights are the same: You are responsible for your own choices, actions and results.
I dedicate this book to my beautiful boys for their unconditional love. They are my rock, my salvation and my raison d’être. Without them, I would not have become strong enough to survive this Journey and find my purpose in life.
I am eternally grateful to my entire family and friends who supported me along this journey. As well, from the bottom of my heart, I thank all the mothers and fathers who believed in me, in my mission, in the greater good and opened up their hearts and minds and allowed me in. This book could not have become a reality without all of you.
Table of Contents
Since my separation, I found myself hungry for more clarity as to why and how it was so hard to get my life back together. So many sticks kept getting stuck in my wheels and, at the time, it didn’t make sense to me. I had a deep desire to leave the past behind and continue to be a delusional optimist that life would get better. But if it wasn’t one challenge coming my way, it was another. And it was constant. I could not figure out why. Which clues was I was missing? Did I make one wrong move that led me to the disaster I was in? If so, where did it start? Which was the first mistake? Or, perhaps it wasn’t all me after all. I was desperate for more answers. I often felt comfort in talking to other divorced mothers and fathers. Years later, I felt better- more optimistic- I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and, more importantly, I found peace of mind. I found my answers. Various epiphanies led me to where I happily am today- with a clear vision on my life purpose, smarter, happier, content and satisfied with my past and my future.
However, I noticed that other mothers were not finding themselves and were stuck in a vicious cycle- one that I could once upon a time relate to. I found myself saying, “No way is this the destiny of all divorcées.” And so I went on a quest to dig deeper into other mothers’ experiences: from their journey of separation to years after their divorce. I listened to hundreds of stories where I asked questions and I probed for details and analyzed their challenges and the level of difficulties being experienced. This is when I realized that there were numerous common patterns.
As divorced mothers, we are all in the same boat. Every person I have come across experienced different challenges. Some were worse than others, where the sagas and the dramas varied. Each of us hold our unique stories. But the suffering is the same. Regardless of our background, our status, our exes or our stories, we have one common goal: to give our children the life they deserve to have. Yet, divorced mothers often feel like they can’t get there without a constant fight. They did not expect or want their divorce to be nasty: ugly, bitter and aggressive. Even though they all feel the acrimony in different ways, I still honor each one of them and the pains they suffered.
It was time they be exposed to the world. Not only is lack of proper healing a major stumbling block for many women, but, the ultimate result is detrimental to their families’ lives. All this unnecessary suffering has to come to an end. The good news that I share in this book is that, by pinpointing the issues at the root of nasty divorces, most of these issues can be solved. You do not have to stay stuck in this rut.
Although the book is written from a mother’s perspective, in no way am I implying that all the perpetrators are fathers and that all the victims are mothers. I strongly believe in the importance and impact of the presence and involvement of both mother and father in a child’s life. I say kudos to all of you fathers out there who take the time to read this book, and who try to understand the perspective of the mothers that I am about to share with you. This book is not a bash-my-ex-husband kind of book and the stories shared are not about him, our relationship, our family or our divorce. The purpose of this book is to use real stories that were shared by others (using fictitious characters) to help educate people on the various consequences of a high conflict divorce and, with the goal to emphasize on the importance of learning, growing, evolving and surviving your journey. For simplicity purposes, two main characters have been chosen: Jane represents mothers, while John represents the ex-husband.
I owe a debt of gratitude to all the mothers that I have crossed paths with and who were brave enough to tell their stories. I could not have written this book if it weren’t for all of you who graciously opened up to me.
Divorces can be peaceful, easy and painless. You and your ex-husband settle amicably, both going your separate ways in building new lives while learning to properly co-parent for the benefit of your children. Sure, there may be ups and downs along this bumpy road to single parenting but ultimately, your children will be well taken care of as you and your ex dedicate yourselves to truly shelter them from unnecessary ugliness and, more importantly, any self-imposed drama. In this case, you are in an ideal situation where you and your ex make the best choices for all family members; you have full control over your life.
But some divorces are just plain ugly.
This book is about nasty divorces. They seem to be all too common. I will review some issues, knowing fully that even more horrific situations exist.
There is a side that is abundantly worse if the route of litigation and divorce courts is taken where bitterness, anger, revenge, hatred, resentment, money, power and ego kick in. This route all too frequently opens the doors to a whole new set of acts and behaviours that leave scars for years to come. I am referring to incidents of verbal threats, abusive reactions, cheating the justice system and fabricating stories in order for John to get the desired result: to impose pain on Jane. Even if Jane was never exposed to these while married and she would never have thought John capable of such things, suddenly, everything changes and anything is possible. John becomes surrounded by negativity and treats the divorce as personal revenge on Jane and, ultimately, on their children.
There is one thing to keep in mind at all times: you may not know what awaits you when a divorce is focused more on your ex’s pain, pride and ego rather than what is in the best interest of the family. The focus may shift from resolving issues in the best interest of all, to battles stemming from your ex’s delusional version of reality.
It is critical for you to know that when going to divorce court, you are losing the ability to choose the life path you desire. You are basically at the mercy of a complete stranger, the judge, who will make decisions for you and your children. This is obviously the worst possible scenario. Wouldn’t you want complete control to make your own choices? On this route to divorce, you and your innocent children could very well end up suffering tremendous emotional, physical and psychological pain.
In such cases, be aware that situations can change on a whim—nothing is set in stone. Nasty divorces are a constant struggle. You may feel at peace one day and be thrown into a series of unexpected and detrimental situations the next, which can result in dire circumstances lasting months, if not years. Sometimes these situations stem from your ex’s inability to properly understand or handle his own deep-rooted emotions, and so it ends up getting dumped on you. It shouldn’t be this way. In addition, mothers are not seeing what the fathers are not saying. When things are swirling out of control, it is not always possible to understand your feelings, and I think this is true for fathers as much as for mothers. It was true for me in my divorce. At the time I didn’t either. But looking back, these clarifications would have made a world of a difference to me.
Upon separation, I did not know what I was walking into. I truly believed my new life would return to a new kind of normal once my ex and I got past the most difficult challenge of a divorce agreement and once our individual fears of walking into the unknown of starting over as single parents no longer controlled us. However, I naively believed that our fears and anger would dissipate with time, not worsen. How could I have possibly anticipated what I was about to face? All I knew with certainty was that our children had to be protected. All the negative emotions that were not dealt with properly became my personal problems. This is where my life, whether I liked it or not, became my new reality.
In addition to all the natural stress from the divorce itself, I was also suddenly forced to become a superwoman. I became everything to everyone and as a result, nothing to myself. I remember being thrown into so many major responsibilities at once that I didn’t see and know where I was going. It was as if I was blinded and deafened by my daily struggle to survive. Not only was I caring for two very young children, the divorce left me with vast emotional and dramatic consequences hovering over me every day.
I was faced with the immediate pressure of getting back into the workforce after two maternity leaves. I also had to put aside my entrepreneurial desire to further develop my online business. I had the pressure to earn more and faster. I had no time to wait for a career; I had to create one immediately. No choice. This came to me with a heavy price.
The danger is, of course, that eventually I caved in and I could not do it anymore. I was too tired and drained. I ran out of steam. I found myself stuck in a dark tunnel and I didn’t know where the exit was. I just stood still, frozen, and asked, “Why me? What now? Why again?”.
My story is not uncommon. In the process of never-ending struggles as mothers fight to survive, they lose their womanhood, their self-respect, their dignity, their self- confidence– themselves. While fighting to stay afloat and struggling not to sink into a worse situation, they encounter daily and never-ending sagas and disappointments. They feel they are always failing and constantly being challenged. Often they won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel until years later (if ever, for some women). As single mothers, we are trying to learn how to raise our children–an enormous task on its own–while killing ourselves to reintegrate into the workforce.
In a nutshell, I had just lived through some difficult years, including numerous appearances in court, caring for my two boys and dealing with their endless emotional traumas. Divorce on its own causes significant difficulties to the children: whether it is an amicable and peaceful one or a nasty one. I had already started a new post-divorce life when I realized that my boys and I weren’t going anywhere good. I decided to move to a new town to start a business and a new life. Life #2, that is. Unfortunately, after some time, it became clear that Life #2 that I worked so hard to build was no longer an option. I crashed and dug deeper to get the answers I needed. I was tired and drained. I could no longer be superwoman. I realized that I took upon too much on myself. It wasn’t working for me. I felt like I significantly failed as a mother and as the strong woman I thought I was. I was stumped. I felt numb. I was screaming inside for help and wondering how I could possibly start life again for the third time.
As contrary as this may sound, this was my turning point–my time of greatest healing. I was finally able to piece together all of my confusions: why all of this happened, why the constant struggles came into my life and how I could finally put a stop to them. At this point, I had zero fear. That’s all I needed all along. Seeing the bigger picture and knocking it down and out of my life. This is when I realized that life #3 will be IT for me.
I suddenly understood how many of my choices were made out of desperation and from a deep desire not to sink to the bottom of a watery abyss. I had to survive. I had little children who were relying on me. I couldn’t make mistakes. I desperately needed money. I just had to keep going. I couldn’t stop to think. I had no time. I was always in a rush. All I could think was that my boys and my survival were based on a few immediate necessities: money, a home and food. I figured all other needs and desires would come later. I didn’t know better. This is what happens when you are thrown into a life you know nothing about and with no proper guidance on how to handle this effectively. Trial and error was the story of my life.
Since most divorced parents do not “co” anything together—co-parent, co-exist, co-operate or co-mmunicate— major problems come into play. I realize now that the main issue begins on day one: If a separation does not start with both parties negotiating in good faith while always keeping the entire family’s best interest in mind, it will cause serious problems in everyone’s lives. Unfortunately, this one vital step could save people in many more ways than can be imagined but is forgotten or dismissed, depending on the situation. There will be no true resolution until both sides decide to end the war and truly move ahead in a more peaceful direction. Admittedly, this is something I have rarely seen or heard of, but which I hope to drastically change by exposing women to the truths and by educating them with the proper tools.
Both mothers and fathers must undergo an enormous amount of education, healing and empowerment in order to get out of the mess they and their children find themselves in, or, better yet, to avoid this possibility altogether. They need to be properly guided on how to survive their new life as a single parent and, equally important, how to co-it-all-together.
All divorced parents have to become grounded and learn to deal with their reality more appropriately – and that means not allowing the possibility of your nasty divorce to dictate your future. You must instead move towards peace. Other alternatives exist, which I will point out in detail. No one should not be spiraling downwards. But they are, and that is why they are living this drama-filled life. After all, you are still a family— with a different kind of family dynamic. This should not be forgotten or taken lightly.
Big challenges lie ahead unless you dedicate yourselves to a new process, a new way of settling the issues that you confront in your divorce. If you have not gone down the path of fighting things out with your ex, it is even more important for you to commit that you will not go there! However, if animosity with your ex already exists, you need to know how to understand why it’s happening, how to have control over the final outcome, how you can prevent your situation from worsening or, better yet, how to stop it altogether. You must have a clear understanding of what you and your ex are truly fighting for (ego versus reality), who your opponent is, what their motives are, your possible challenges with attorneys—especially if you decide to walk into the litigation world (divorce courts)—and how far this war could go. Otherwise, you are merely feeding into never-ending battles. No one ends up winning. In fact, your entire family ends up losing.
One of the major reasons many women have a hard, if not impossible time trying to cope in their new roles, is the justice system. If you are not aware how divorce courts really work, you are at a major disadvantage and will be faced with enormous roadblocks and downward life-changing experiences. You must have realistic expectations of the justice system; you must know that the justice you expect to receive based on your reality does not necessarily match the justice you will receive in divorce courts. Unfortunately, the lawyer you appoint to be your savior may also not play his or her role as you expect.
As this book will show, when these battles end up in court, you will possibly have to deal with questionable lawyers, loopholes in the justice systems and you may very well feel completely blindsided. Where does this lead you? To increased attorney bills with zero guarantees that justice will be served based on the true reality of your actual situation.
If you have not been to divorce court, I hope that you will never have to go. It is nevertheless critical that you know what to expect if going to court crosses your mind, or if that day is ever forced upon you. Don’t wait until it is too late.
For those of you who have been drawn to the litigation world with unhappy results, you should know that many mothers feel the same disappointment and anger at the judicial systems. All too many people love saying to their ex: “I’ll see you in court”, as if this will solve all their problems. It won’t. It may solve a few issues but it could also bring about a whole set of new problems that you never anticipated, and that force you into years of new suffering. It seems there is no justice in the justice system. It’s quite an oxymoron, I know.
Many mothers have figured this out and refuse to go to court because they know that this will be the likely outcome and they aren’t willing to waste both money and emotion on such injustices. And so by default, mothers and their children lose while the ex wins the battle, and, over time, the war: all while you suffered.
I will point out how and why you should watch your every move. This applies to everyone—separated, divorced, thinking of walking out on a marriage, or even someone with just a tiny inclination that divorce is on its way. Through this book, you will see the important clues to keep your eye on. You will be empowered to apply this new investigative approach to your life so that you can avoid an all-out war, and avoid or dramatically improve the mess that could otherwise come your way.
Many divorcés live in constant fear and perpetual anxiety and frustration because things “happen” to them even though they work so hard to avoid this. I am here to explain the why and how, as I now see it. With this new clarity, you will hopefully connect the struggles of your new lives with your past decisions and, even more importantly, realize why it is imperative that changes are equally made by all divorcés as well as by the justice systems. You must place more emphasis on looking after yourselves, and your governments have to work harder at protecting you.
Through this book and my work, I hope to raise awareness about the consequences of nasty divorces on the children, the ultimate victims of a lagging system that often supports many money-hungry lawyers. The children are not being protected.
I’m not going to lie: Many of you may feel scared by the stories. This fear is good. I am purposely not sugar-coating any facts. Why? Because I want you to know the raw realities that could await you if you follow in the footsteps of so many mothers before you.
However, I am hoping that with my advice, you will gain the powerful tool of knowledge. With it, you can make more informed choices on the type of route to follow and which ones to steer clear from. I pray I can help by sharing with you what so many mothers have already experienced in very difficult and unfortunate ways.
Truthfully, I wish I had had this kind of book when I made the decision to divorce. Had I been more aware of what I would be walking into, I would have had the opportunity to re-think my strategies, prepare myself for what was yet to come and play my cards differently. It’s only now, through painful, personal life-changing experiences— spending too much time in divorce court, seeing my children suffer, experiencing significant financial losses and endless lawyers’ fees, as well as surrounding myself with my divorced friends—do I fully understand.
I sincerely hope this book will help you find your version of normal again and guide you to better opportunities and to a better quality of life. I know it will help you find your balance. It is impossible for anyone to tell you how long it will take you to become balanced, just as it is impossible to predict how long it will take you to finalize your divorce, especially once you go down the rabbit hole of divorce court.
No one else should suffer.
It’s time to shake things up. We demand change. The status quo can no longer exist!
Oh yeah, and by the way, this entire book is WITHOUT PREJUDICE!
This book is ideal for many people:
I*f you are contemplating taking the plunge into the world of divorce* thinking that it will lead you to an automatic life of peace, sanity, freedom and independence from your significant other, read this book before you make any decisions. You must be prepared for this new, potentially rocky, adventure.
If you are currently separated, you will have the knowledge as to what you should expect in your personal life over the following years and what divorce courts are really all about. You will likely have already experienced enormous personal challenges and will want to avoid adding more to your list. I detail some of the worst-case scenarios. It’s up to you to choose not to follow these paths to destruction. I provide you with alternate, more peaceful options.
If you don’t have divorced friends, consider this as your guideline to avoid the pitfalls. Some divorces start off all peachy and rosy and end up very ugly. And believe me, there is always a worse and nastier story out there. I have heard horror stories that trump my own personal story.
If you do have divorced friends and strongly believe that your divorce will never be as bad or vengeful as their divorces were because your ex would never do these things to you, I urge you to read this book and draw your own conclusions. Every ex is different and every divorce is unique.
If you have experienced an amicable divorce but feel that you got screwed over through a bad agreement, you have actually gained much by not walking down the path many of us have taken, or were forced to take.
If you are close to anyone who is getting separated or divorced, whether it be a family member, friend, colleague, neighbour, your empathy and support is very much needed. You may not know how to offer your help. Perhaps you doubt the stories you are hearing and are asking yourself, “We live in a civilized country… how could all of this be true? How do these stories make any sense? She must be crazy, she’s not telling us everything. We have a justice system that is meant to protect her and her children.”
Don’t be so doubtful. You may also unknowingly be guiding your loved one in the wrong direction. It’s a crazy process. You will be able to better assist with your new enlightened view of the true reality of divorces.
If you are a therapist of any sort, you may have heard a slew of dramatic events and seen first-hand how our justice system and vengeful exes are destroying others’ future possibilities. If you have a program or work experience to share that can benefit parents and help them ensure their children survive the divorce and, you have a deep desire to flip the current status quo that threatens many, I would be delighted to hear from you.
If you are a lawyer and are frustrated with our current laws and have seen firsthand the unfortunate reality of thousands of women and their children, I welcome you to jump on board.
The Onset Of The Nasty Divorce
Copyright © 2016 Ravit Rose™. All Rights Reserved.
The Big Day
The story is common: Jane and John decide to end their marriage. This changes her life in many ways, both expected and unexpected, and his as well. In addition to great changes, there will also be many uncontrollable, life-altering tornadoes.
And so the real drama begins…
The problems experienced as a married couple are insignificant compared to those that she is about to walk into as a divorced woman.
It is hell from this point on. Did she ever think that her divorce would turn out so bad? Never in a million years.
Jane thought she knew her husband. She knew that he would initially be upset when she told him she wanted a divorce, but never did she think that he would change so drastically and become a person whose only goal seemed to be to hurt her by going to any length to make her regret her decision to end the marriage.
But John quickly becomes lost in a world filled with negativity and impulsive behaviours, which lead him to become unreliable, unpredictable and just plain mean and disrespectful. His world seems to be quickly filled with doubt, anxieties, worries and self-imposed dramas. It is as if through his suffering, his deepest desire is for Jane to suffer along with him. And she certainly does.
It takes her quite some time to understand what exactly is going on. She can’t understand why there are so many fights and arguments over issues that she never raised or was even alluding to. From the very beginning of their separation, it is very ugly and filled with massive fights over every little thing. They can’t agree on anything. She tries to reason with him. She tries to give him his space to heal. She pleads with him to think of the children and of the deep consequences his demands would cause to all of them. It fails each and every time.
It is very hard for Jane to accept her new reality; not only does she have full custody and has to raise their children on her own while figuring out her new life in a single parent home, she also has to deal with her ex’s below-par behaviors and actions that catch her by complete surprise. Her family and friends are all in shock. They don’t know where this is coming from. These behaviors are so unlike the person they thought they knew. Jane reasons that this is all coming from a place of anger and that it will settle down with time. She truly believes that he will eventually heal and move on.
She is wrong.
John should take full responsibility for all of his actions. But what an eye-opener it is when she realizes that the mess they find themselves in isn’t only his doing. If he has gone the route of choosing a “shark”, in other words, a highly aggressive litigation attorney, as his legal counsel, he will come to adopt certain litigation tactics that will end up doing major damage to Jane, to the children, and also to John and his ability to be a strong positive parental influence in the lives of the children. It may feel to Jane as though he is taking her to court at every whim for years to come, bullying her into ridiculously unjust agreements and using the children as hostages, as part of a master plan to scare her, to bully her and to rob her of everything she owns and deserves. She may feel that he is acting purely out of spite, and as a result, everyone suffers, but their children suffer the most.
After being repeatedly thrown into an assortment of legal processes and giving up on so many financial issues in hopes that it would lead to a peaceful resolution, Jane comes to realize what is truly happening. This is her light at the end of the tunnel. The fighting isn’t about what is in the best interest of her children. The children are not the ex’s priority, even though they should have always been, because the children always were a priority to John when they were married. Rather, the children have become the hostages, living life in fear, and the important questions in their lives are being determined by strangers. Jane may feel as though this is John’s personal vendetta against her. She may not realize that it is his hurt ego taking control, and that he has been led to believe perhaps through manipulation and deceit—that fighting everything out in court is the way to go.
In fact, what I have concluded is that divorce battles are mostly about three poisons that destroy many families: MONEY, POWER and EGO. Unfortunately, all three are welcome in our divorce proceedings as they are the ways by which many lawyers hook their clients into the litigation system on a regular basis. Some exes may already have the ability and desire to fight dirty, whether you noticed it while married or have unpleasantly and shockingly been exposed to them upon separation. But sometimes, really decent people, men and women, are deliberately led to believe that fighting their divorce out in the courts is the best way to accomplish their divorce.
So please think twice if you catch yourself believing that your ex is not capable of atrocities such as bullying and manipulation when he tries to convince you that things will only be worse if you don’t settle against your will and your gut feelings— and even stooping as low as threatening you.
If John has hired an inhumane “shark” lawyer to take vengeance against Jane, they are both in for a very difficult ride. Once her ex, with the help of his shark, has had all three poisons ingrained into his every living breath, everyone around him is sucked into this toxic world of vengefulness and hatred that is impossible to get out of, unless it comes from him. It normally doesn’t.
His goal, or more likely his lawyer’s goal, is that Jane have no more power to fight and, in turn, give up on everything and agree to John’s, or more likely his lawyer’s terms. But divorces don’t have to go down this route, and the Janes of the world definitely do not need to accept just any terms. The key is knowledge. With the right tools, information and awareness of legal loopholes, people can survive nasty divorces, and empower themselves in the process to not only come out of the divorce whole, but also as a happier human beings and better parents for their children.
All of this is possible.
A Nasty Divorce is Worse Than Death
Often I’ve put myself in the shoes of a widow and compared the two scenarios. From the drama I’ve been through and the drama of the Janes I’ve encountered, I’ve concluded that if you lose a significant other to death, it is most certainly a painful and sad experience. However, you are left with great memories that keep you going, which you will also carry in your heart forever; pictures that remind you of great times, events that make you realize that you are who you are because of that person. Most of all, you have the feeling that your loved one is present in spirit and watching over you, supporting you, encouraging you to move forward and sending you as many good vibes and positive feelings as possible. With time, your sadness fades a little, and you focus more and more on incredible memories that you wouldn’t change or erase for the world.
Ugly divorces, on the other hand, have none of that. In fact, it is the exact opposite. You forget all about the good times together and the memories shared. It’s almost as if they have been washed away and replaced with nightmares. In some cases, you can’t even stand speaking to the man you were once married to and in love with, and it goes as far as not being able to be in the same room with him. The thought of sleeping on the same sheets or in the same bed you did when you were married disgusts you. All you want to do is erase all signs of happiness you had together. You are living a new reality filled with negative thoughts and feelings while you are trying to survive this emotional rollercoaster.
Death of a loved one is very different from dealing with an ex who is filled with hatred, animosity and vengefulness—an ex who has developed the drive to make you suffer at any cost. Unfortunately, when they buy into the litigation system, many exes believe it is smart to make sure you won’t have an easy life. Couple that with the justice system that is always open for business. Even when, in reality, your ex wants little to do with the children, once he walks into a courtroom, as the father, he will have many rights and will exercise them. Why? Because he has been trained to want to win more and cause you to suffer more until you cave in to his demands. It may seem intentional, but don’t forget that he is seeing your divorce through the eyes of his lawyer. From his new perspective, you cannot suffer enough. He has no empathy for you.
Many mothers who have survived a brutal divorce know this to be true. There seems to be a common belief among vengeful ex-husbands that since “she is a woman”, she can handle it. The sad part is that when these exes know that their children have an amazing mother, it makes them feel at ease to make you suffer. They believe you will be an awesome mother in spite of what they are putting you through. What they don’t realize is that the incredible stress takes away from your ability to be that awesome mother, because you have now lost the ability to even see yourself as a human being, never mind a parent. This in turn exposes your children to a rocky life that will affect them negatively on a daily basis. Now, they too are left with ugly memories and saddened lives, all too aware that those past great memories will never happen again.
Now, a part of you has died.
Trying to be Superwoman
I was expected to sustain the pains of my divorce and remain an impeccable mother on target with raising my children. How? All of the following responsibilities were mine to handle on a daily basis: taking care of the household, feeding my children (and they are healthy, growing children who are constantly “super starving”), being on top of their education, helping with their homework, cooking three meals a day, shopping for food and necessities, managing their medical, emotional and psychological needs and appointments, taking time off when they were sick and being the saviour when they forgot their lunchboxes, running shoes or homework at home. I was also expected to leave work in a rush when I was called into the principal’s office regarding an issue my child had at school that day…the list was endless. All of this while trying to build my career and feel like a person!
This always felt like an impossible job for me. I know that I’m not alone. This is why so many of us feel we are always failing; why so many of us are perpetually tired and stressed; why so many of us get sick and end up falling apart. Nervous breakdowns are common throughout this whole process of learning to be a one-woman show.
We asked for women’s rights; to be equal to men and have the rights to vote and work. Well, ladies, now we have those rights. However, as divorced women in today’s society, what we asked for once upon a time is not working for us today. We are realizing that our plates are overloaded. Men also need to accept some of the responsibility for what were, historically, women’s “rights” – the right to love, protect and raise their children. Some of them have started asking for those rights, but it is taking a long time, and we are still carrying most of the burdens of providing a home for our children.
Do you have any idea why it’s so hard for us?
Firstly, it’s not a one-woman job to raise children and work full-time. It was never meant to be that way, but it has become the norm for many. Single mothers are left alone with the hardest tasks to handle. In addition, we are not being properly assisted and guided by professionals on how to effectively deal with these demanding tasks. We are left with no choice but to figure everything out on our own, learn through difficult trials, major tribulations and chaos. However hard we try, it never seems to be enough: something—or someone —will suffer.
Secondly, if you have full custody, your children’s father is not involved in raising his children on a day-to-day basis, so clearly the majority of this workload is now all yours.
Third, if your ex doesn’t pay child support or pay for the children’s expenses such as camps, sport activities and school outings, you are now forced to take on the role of two working parents.
In addition, with the loopholes in our justice system and the nightmare of divorce courts that you have to struggle through, it will cost you a bundle. Since you are now in a one-income family, this comes at a heavy cost and heavy heart.
So divorced mothers end up feeling like chickens without their heads. They cannot plan ahead. They also do not focus on themselves. Because none of their desperate and fundamental needs and requirements are being met, they and their children suffer unnecessarily.
All this chaos leads you to act irrationally and make decisions out of desperation. As a result of the enormous difficulties they face, divorced mothers end up making mistakes. They will not realize at the time how much they will regret some of those decisions in the future. Some more serious than others, some more correctable than others.
I regretted some of the decisions I took. For instance, at the beginning, with the constant sagas I was thrown into and being overly tired and stressed, I entered a path that years later turned out to be the wrong one. If you feel the same way, take hope: my path nonetheless got me to where I happily am today. If you’re not in a good head space, do not make any major decisions. Minimize your risks. I suggest that you take the time to analyze every move carefully and work with realistic goals.
It all started for me when I decided to move away from my hometown and move forty minutes away into a new community in order to start a business. I strongly believed this was exactly what I needed in order to stay on board and fulfill my duties and obligations, given the realities I was facing. I was opening a business with someone I trusted like a second father. In desperation for this new venture to work—it was my key to independence from my ex—I was willing to do anything to make this happen. At that time, I had already been exposed to what felt like enough pain and agony in my divorce. I thought I had it all figured out: I would go ahead and create this life filled with personal freedom. I was hoping that I would also be able to earn enough income to sustain a normal lifestyle. I thought I could succeed at becoming financially free of my ex. I believed I could do it myself. I actually almost did it. I got very close.
At that point, I married a second time. Husband #2 had spent almost a year helping me get my children back on a good track to happiness. Together, we offered them a stable environment again. One thing I admired about him was that he encouraged me to get on with my life regardless of the pains and struggles of my divorce. He could not have been more right. At that time, I was desperate for change and for a better life for me and my children.
Long story short, this marriage only lasted a few months. The main reason was because, just as we got married, I was thrown into another war which involved several court appearances. These were the most trying days of all. So, as I was struggling to start a new life in my new house with my new husband and operate a new business, I had to simultaneously care for my young children who were having a hard time dealing with instant changes imposed on them. Week after week, my children were acting out all of their waking hours, throwing up several times during the day and into their sleep. They had vicious nightmares.
It was the longest and most emotionally and physically exhausting two months of my life. For every few days my children were at my house, it took my husband and I another few days to simply recuperate. The cycle felt like it was never-ending. My new marriage was no honeymoon. It was short-lived, as we ended up separating months later, and divorced soon thereafter. My second husband saw no end to the battles and wars and wanted nothing to do with it. I don’t blame him. I didn’t want to be in that situation either.
So here I was, a single parent trying again to re-build my children’s faith and belief that all was good, and at the same time, having to convince myself of this truth.
I managed. I truthfully don’t know how I did it, but I was able to build a very nice business. I was independent and, thanks to my flexible schedule, available to my children. I had built myself equity in my home, which was my greatest accomplishment. I thought I had it all.
It went well for three years, until….
My ex and I were back in court. I didn’t succeed at being financially independent. I had too many curve balls coming my way that put a halt in my deeply desired efforts. I tried to go the peaceful route. A small battle turned into a one-year war. I spent most of my time planning, organizing and focusing all my energy on this trial. I finally got a favourable court order. On the flip side, it cost me more in legal fees and in credit card interest that accrued over the years than what I was granted by the judge. Something that I didn’t anticipate.
In the meantime, I didn’t focus on my business, and it closed. My biggest mistake was that I entered into this business believing that I was safe: I went in blindly thinking it was my golden key to survival. It turns out that it wasn’t as great of a deal as I had hoped for, expected and so deeply desired; it just fit a temporary need.
I had to start all over again. They say third time is a charm.
How Our Nasty Divorce Affects
Those Closest to Us
Copyright © 2016 Ravit Rose™. All Rights Reserved.
Nasty divorces are extremely messy and complicated to begin with, but when children are involved, it is a whole other ball game. Since both mother and father still need to communicate for the sake of the children, there is a connection there that will never quite disappear. Yet often divorces that are embroiled in litigation do not allow for communication, never mind proper co-parenting. Also, if one parent downplays the other parent’s role or denigrates them, it can shatter the children’s world into smithereens.
The children should not be raised in a hostile environment between mother and father. If your divorces really aren’t about your children—and this is what you tell them—you need to diligently work at ensuring that this remains true. They should not be the ping pong balls that get thrown around from one side to the other.
I tried to shelter my children but I did not succeed. I was delusional in thinking that if I didn’t involve them in the battles with my ex, they would be untouched and not traumatized.
My children saw my pain, they felt my anger. How could they not? They lived with me most of the month. I couldn’t possibly hide my emotions for that long. There were days when I was sad and hibernating in bed and had no desire or energy to do anything. Other days, I just didn’t feel like talking much. My mind was wandering in a million different directions. I couldn’t focus. I would forget things I said or did. My children saw this and understood something was wrong, as it was out of character for me. There were moments when I would hide in the bathroom and cry. When I came out I would try to put on a smile, but they weren’t fooled. They saw my swollen eyes and knew something was wrong. Even though they may have been young, they felt my energy; they saw things that they may not have been able to explain in words but could certainly understand the underlying message. Over time, they became more perceptive about any changes in my life, even a new haircut or colouring.
My eldest child was most hurt by the divorce. He is now almost a teenager with a maturity level of an old soul. He has an adult mind in a child’s body. It’s quite amazing. He sees and feels things at a strong level—he always has. He asked intelligent questions and analyzed everything to the point where it consumed his thoughts throughout the day. He knew something was wrong and needed better answers. I suppose that our explanations weren’t enough for him. So he went looking for more. Little did he know that these answers were not what he was expecting. Finding his answers affected him further. That’s when I told him to stop digging; that I was trying to shelter him so that he wouldn’t feel these awful emotions again.
I was always looking for a solution to my children’s problems. I continuously do what I can to ensure that they can live the best possible childhood under the circumstances. I talk to them about women, marriage, commitment and dedication. I am realistic with them. I talk to them about what life is all about—the ups and downs, the importance of taking risks and going outside of their comfort zones and not allowing fear to dictate their lives. I work diligently at making them understand that everyone has challenges in their lives and that this divorce just happened to teach them these lessons a little earlier in life. I tell them that what they have gone through will in turn empower them to become the most incredible men, astounding husbands and devoted fathers.
All that my children needed was a healthy childhood; an upbringing that would allow them to prosper and grow to be the best that they could be without being traumatized by the divorce. And since my ex and I received no mandated help from the government, I took control of this matter myself. I spent years taking my son to different therapists, always trying to help find him solutions to his problems. I was saddened for him, as I didn’t like the idea of him carrying around the weight of this divorce on his shoulders for the rest of his life. The divorce should have started and ended with two adults who could not and should not be married. End of story. No dramas. But it wasn’t. I focused instead on finding methods for him to express his emotions, speak them out into the real world, eliminate negative thoughts and fears that consumed him. What child needs to be thinking this way?
Fortunately, my son was brave enough to express his feelings and not keep them bottled up inside his fragile soul. I took him to a children’s group program that would help him understand the impact that negative thoughts had on his mind, body and soul. This taught him to understand that it was okay to feel bad or sad or angry. But it also taught him how to let negative emotions go.
Due to a drastic change in my financial circumstances when I lost my business, I saw that my boys were worried about being broke. I flipped this around and started to talk to them about all the great things we had in our lives. This is when we started a gratitude jar. Every night, all three of us would sit after dinner and write down something we were grateful for that day. For the first few days, my little guy couldn’t think of a single thing he was happy about. Weeks later, he was able to write about fifteen sentences each night. As a bonus, his writing skills significantly improved.
Ironically, a few weeks later, we attended a book signing of an author of a book on gratitude. What appropriate timing! We received a signed book and I gave it to my eldest son to use at his own leisure and privacy. I also challenged him to zero negative thoughts for thirty days. The idea was for him to notice when his thoughts were flipping, what he was doing at that time, where he was and why this was happening. This commitment took constant work on my part to remind him of our plan. Even though he tried very hard, he slipped every once in a while and I found myself anxious to make sure he was back on track each time so that he didn’t go down a bad path.
Raising children in a divorced environment is a constant work in progress. I remember so many occasions feeling that we were healed and ready to move on only to have something new come up that would lead us back to square one with a new challenge. I believe that this is due to the fact that we are not seeking the proper type of therapy on a continuous basis. The help we get comes and goes but the issues just seem to deepen as the children understand more. I find that as my boys grow older and mature, new problems arise—most of which I don’t have the proper answers to. Again, I don’t have a guidebook that advises me of all issues and provides all solutions tailored to my boys’ needs. What may work for an adult will not necessarily work for a child. As a child myself, I was not traumatized by any major circumstance, therefore, at times, I found it hard for me to relate to my children. Since budget was always an issue, I picked up much of my answers online—from blogs or by reading other parents’ stories.
It’s all been trial and error, and all I have to say is that it would have been easier and more powerful to be given some proven methods or tools per age group by a trained therapist instead of constantly playing a guessing game. Many children of divorce desperately need therapy. It is critical for them to get all of their anger and confusion out of their minds. As a mother, my biggest fear was that I would miss out on clues that would end up causing my sons’ major pain into adulthood.
Sadly, as one Jane shared with me, in all the decisions made by court regarding her girls, no judge had actually met or spoken to them. Over the years, many decisions made in court were completely detrimental to her children’s well-being. Shockingly, some decisions were made within a quick twenty-minute appearance in front of a judge. That is all it took to be subjected to injustice. And her injustice goes deep into domestic violence. These judgements left her children scarred even today. Her girls were raised in an abusive home, and studies show that may likely deter them from being involved in future healthy, intimate relationships.
The problem is that the judges and the lawyers don’t live with Jane’s children—in fact, all they know is what they hear from the parents. The Jane I spoke with had been exposed to fabricated stories aimed at making the situation look better, or making her look bad, or giving her ex the edge he needed to win the battle. This makes it difficult for a judge to determine the true realities. Does no one realize the negative impact this creates in an innocent child’s life? Worse, there is also no follow-up after a judgement. And zero accountability. Everything is on paper. When John would not follow through with the judgement, Jane was forced to go back to court. She found herself fighting one war after another in order to prevent her ex from manipulating the case and further abusing the children. Yet, $200,000 in legal fees later, she didn’t get very far. She had to stop her cause and accept the horrid reality.
Our justice system does not protect the children from the effects of domestic violence and true parental alienation. The caseloads seem to increase rapidly and I wonder if Youth Protection can appropriately and effectively handle this overload. I keep hearing of more and more cases where the courts reached the wrong conclusions, at the expense of the well-being of children. This is a major flaw that must be addressed. I was very lucky. Whatever else happened in my married and divorce life, I was not the victim of domestic violence or abuse, and so I don’t have any personal experience in this area. If you have lived through domestic violence, have insight, and possibly solutions to these difficult and painful cases, and are willing to share them with me, I hope you will consider getting in touch.
Back to non-violent and non-abusive relationships: I realize that many mothers may hate the idea of having any ties with their exes due to the hardships forced upon them and the resulting deep level of animosity they harbour for their exes. Ultimately, however, there is no other option but to change this attitude, both for the children’s sake, and because at some point you will run out of money, having had to pay lawyers to go to court, and yet still finding yourself in a rough place with no concrete answers or closure.
I have a beautiful story to share, and you may need a tissue for this. One day, after a dramatic week, my eldest son came over to me and said, “Mom, I just want to tell you that you are my hope…when I get married and have children, I will name my daughter ‘Hope Ravit’. That way, I will never forget you and I will know to keep hoping all the time.”
I will never forget this moment. This is when I realized that my hard work was paying off and that he understood my messages.
There is no better person to tell us of their suffering than our own children, in a safe and honest discussion, preferably with the guidance of a therapist. I believe that our children’s voices must be heard. More often than not, although not deliberately so, they are being ignored. The children know more than they are revealing to us, and it is a shame that we are not listening to what they are and are not saying on a deeper level. I tried this exercise with my eldest son and asked him to write his thoughts down. All I can say is… wow. That even with the open discussions he and I have always had, I still never knew half of what was eating him alive. He literally had the same worries consume his thoughts daily—anxiety at its best. And it made so much sense to me once I read his perspective, his words and his anger, and how they tied in so perfectly into his personal issues.
Should we not finally hear the truth and ultimately, seek our children’s improved mental health? Or should we shove this one under the rug and hope that it will go away? Should their feelings and emotions not come into play at some point in their parents’ divorce? Would it not help the children to heal at a younger age rather than carry these feelings into their teenage years and, worse, into adulthood? I cannot imagine that I am the only genius who thinks and feels this way. So why is this not being done?
I have, hands-down, the absolute best parents in the world. My parents are the most loving and incredible role models, and for that I am eternally grateful.
My mother has always been by my side guiding me with my children. Her forty-year experience as an elementary school teacher has come in very handy at my most challenging times. I learned so much from her on to how to raise my children. It was through my divorce that I learned to appreciate all that she had done for me as a child, as I realized that she did a great job raising me and I found myself mimicking her great ways. The family traditions and values she instilled in me as a child are now mine as a mother. Food was always on the table to feed my growing boys’ tummies, even when, due to my overwhelming stress, I had no appetite of my own. She succeeded at teaching me to balance work and life and children.
My father wins Father of the Year award year after year, as he has always been willing to help without hesitation. I truly believe that this saved all three of us. My father’s unconditional love, his persistence and devotion to my every single need has also shaped me into the mother I am today. Whenever I needed his help, he was there for me and my boys. My children have gained so much by being influenced by their incredible grandfather. I learned and continue to learn to excel by example. My children have my consistent love and devotion, and what better feeling could there be than when you know that your children feel safe around you?
You will need as much support as possible. Your family will play a key role in your survival. You will need physical help with the children; things like cooking, food shopping, taking them to medical appointments, watching them on their days off of school and babysitting. More importantly, you will need consistent emotional support until you are balanced again and have a good grip of your life. You will go through highs and lows, and you will need someone you can confide in, to be there for you throughout the whole process. Whatever your family can offer to you, be grateful because the opposite is not a viable option unless you think you can become superwoman and succeed at it. I gave it my best shot, and telling you that it was a trying experience would be undermining my reality.
How many of you still speak to your ex’s parents? For those of you who still have a healthy relationship with them, you are on the right track. Keep it going. You are better off this way. Some of you allow your out-laws (your ex in-laws) into your life even though you and your ex do not get along. I don’t believe that being enemies with your children’s other set of grandparents will benefit you nor your children. Various scenarios can present themselves into your life: either you hate them and want nothing to do with them and you will reap the consequence of distancing them from their grandchildren, or, you will be exposed to out-laws who have banned you completely from day one and have made you their enemy. The unfortunate part of your divorce is that you may also have to deal with divorcing your ex’s parents. It sounds completely ridiculous that they are involved in your personal life, but it makes sense considering they are not being advised on how to effectively deal with and heal from the ending of your marriage. One key point to keep in mind is that from the very beginning of your separation, you need to know, or at the very least try to predict, what will become of your ex’s extended family. You have to truly know who and what you are up against in case of battle. It can help you plan your moves effectively—it can make or break you.
How many of you actually took the time to analyze and get to know your man’s family before you decided to marry him? Do you know it’s very possible that he will show a side of himself you saw in his family members but never in him? Why is this important? Well, it somewhat determines the type of divorce you could end up with if your ex is being supported by his family who choose to be mean and vindictive. Your ex can throw you a curve ball with his new attitude—something you do not have experience with. You may think it will dissipate with time. Sometimes it can yet sadly, it can also become a contagious and incurable disease.
Through the stories women have shared with me, I have observed some pretty interesting interactions. They should actually be looked at before deciding to marry. Many don’t. Look carefully at the dynamics between your ex and his parents. For example, does your ex respect his parents? Does he have unresolved issues with his parents that affect his role as father and/or husband? Or is there a true appreciation and love for them? Does your ex’s father treat his wife with dignity and respect? Does he put her on a pedestal? If he treats her like garbage, you can probably expect the same treatment from your ex. (Even though my boys are years away from starting to date, I realize that as a parent, I must already start to teach my children how to look at this.)
If your ex did not learn by example that respect and proper parenting are the two most critical responsibilities for a man and father, then you cannot expect him to be otherwise. It’s all he knows. It’s that simple. This is when you need to look at your situation differently, in order to survive your journey.
The most horrific situation to be in is when the ex is on a streak of vengeance and full-out war and his parents and extended family display the same type of attitude and, in fact, support him. Now you are fighting against his ego and pride as well as that of your out-laws and extended family. In this situation, the fights worsen exponentially as their collective anger towards you, whether legitimate or not, leads to a gang-up of hatred. All too often, Jane realizes this too late in the game. I do not blame her—she is so busy trying to survive that she is blindsided by this critical fact. What a disastrous cocktail she is now faced with. Who would have thought that wanting out of a marriage would bring on this thirst for revenge and hatred by so many people? Even though it is your divorce and their personal feelings should have no bearings here, your out-laws may battle you simply because their pride is hurt.
It took one Jane I spoke to years to understand and accept that her out-laws were the types of people who wanted to prove their worth and stroke their egos by flaunting their money to their lawyer in order to make her suffer—to show them they were more powerful than she was. She never expected that her ex would turn out that way too. In her case, family money flowed easily to her ex’s lawyer simply to ensure that their collective egos would thrive, without any regard to the possible final outcome to her and her children. The more funding he had access to, the more vengeful acts came her way. Inadvertently, John was taking it out on his children too. He misunderstood one critical aspect of this whole game of his—the mother and the children are two separate entities.
It seems that when wealthy parents are lending money to their child (your ex), he will not feel the same pain compared to if he had to pay all the legal bills himself, or claim personal bankruptcy in order to continue to fight with all his might. The Jane in this situation strongly believes that John’s self-imposed dramas would likely have ended earlier or better yet, never even started if the funding was nonexistent. It was clear to her that John’s attention and focus was on the amount of pain he could inflict on her rather than on focusing on his own life.
The problem is that after years of paying for their son’s lawyer and years of allowing their son to gain power, they had created a monster. John’s parents and their lawyer had helped him become a hating, vengeful and egotistical maniac who felt that he was above the law. He hid behind his lawyer and did what he desired and said what he wanted in and out of court because it served his purpose and mostly because he felt secure and completely protected. John knew very well that Jane didn’t have access to the same funding and he used this as his ace card. Zero accountability. Zero care in the world. John preferred to feed his lawyer rather than his own children. Like I said, the children always lose.
Jane tried to prove to her out-laws how their lawyer took them for a ride and what an unnecessary mess this created, all for the sake of excess billing. Since Jane became the target, she did most of the suffering. So while they were fighting their egos, she was fighting to raise her children in this hostile environment. Yikes! She is very well aware that their hatred may still linger and perpetuate in the background as their main focus of her divorce turned into anger and shock over how much money they threw in the garbage. In their eyes, it will always be Jane’s fault. She had to understand that since they were coming from a place of ego, Jane could not single-handedly change their way of thinking or make them see the true reality of the situation.
It may take years of drama and court appearances for your ex’s parents to finally realize that there is no good outcome to this game except for a bank account being significantly drained by the hour. This excess spending on legal fees may force them to come to terms with the fact that this fight is useless and endless and, in fact, detrimental to the children. Unfortunately, they may not realize this until years after the damage has been done and is, in many ways, irreparable. Others may not see this and will perpetuate the fight.
Now, here is the challenging question: Is it possible to change these people or is this a done deal?
If you see yourself in Jane’s situation, you have to come to terms with the fact that people in this frame of mind will not necessarily see eye-to-eye with what a struggling mother sees. Do you question whether there is anything you can do about that or if it’s even relevant at that point? So you need to take this knowledge and try to create something better out of it, if necessary through therapy.
I believe that grandparents who would like to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives should also seek therapy as early as upon the parents’ separation. They must be advised as to the do’s and don’ts of their children’s divorce and the impact their actions will have on their child and the grandchildren. They must be advised of the proper ways of dealing with their personal pain; by dealing with their emotions and diffusing their need for revenge. They must understand that it is critical to remain a neutral party, for the sake of the grandchildren.
For those of you who maintained a healthy husband-wife relationship and made the time and effort to go out with friends on a regular basis and think that this will continue when you get divorced, I am sad to have to burst your bubble. The majority of women I know lost most of their friends shortly after separation. Your true friends will stick by you and the others will disappear soon enough. Many of my friends melted away like thin ice. Perhaps they couldn’t stand listening to my stories (as they weren’t very fun, positive and uplifting), perhaps they were afraid or too saddened to hear my horror stories, or perhaps they were simply not real friends to begin with. Whatever the reasons, I don’t blame them.
In hindsight, it was better that I didn’t have too many people with whom to share my predicament. When we are hurt and aching every single day, we tend to share our stories with anyone who will listen. We are crying out for attention. We are also desperately seeking answers and think that by talking it out many, many times, that someone out there will be able to enlighten us with a golden solution. I am not sure how true that is. I found that the different criticisms and suggestions were just confusing me. I was talking to married friends and family members who didn’t know the true realities of divorce and divorce courts because the justice system doesn’t actually work the way we expect it to.
Realistically, this is not an appropriate long-term venting method. The way I see it, the more often you share your stories, the more you will boil inside. This will lead you to despise your ex even more, to the point where the hatred and animosity between the two of you will grow. You don’t want things to blow out of proportion. It is easy to get into this hatred mode but it is much, much harder to get out of it. Couple all of that with the abundance of varied opinions you will get, and it will just lead you to become even more overwhelmed and bitter. Rather, I believe that this must be done in a controlled environment, through therapy.
You must believe that you and only you will come closest to knowing how your ex will react. You have to think the story through carefully and follow your gut instinct and find your answers to how, what, where and why that situation occurred. You lived with this man. You know him better than anyone else. Everyone else, especially married couples, use reasoning in their justification. However, ego and power trips don’t get tamed by using reasoning—unless your ex is the type of man who can be reasoned with after he has calmed down from his temporary moment of insanity. You have to analyze how your ex behaves at each occasion and try to foresee how he would react to a situation.
Your social life will likely take a toll as soon as you separate. Perhaps you won’t have the budget to go to the places you used to frequent, perhaps you will not have the energy to go out much after caring for your children alone. Perhaps you had such a dramatic week loaded with one chaotic scene after another that you are emotionally exhausted and just feel like being alone.
Worst of all, you may soon start to feel like the third wheel—your girlfriends will not always want to have girls’ nights out. They may wish, with reason, to spend some of their weekends with their significant others.
Bottom line is, your social life will not be the same. Changes will occur—some you will expect and others will shock you.
For about five years after my divorce, I pretty much kept it low key with my social life until my 40th birthday. I invited a bunch of friends and their children to my house for a huge lunch. It was honestly the first time that I felt like me again and I felt like celebrating. My previous birthdays were depressing to say the least, for one reason or another. Thanks to the suggestions of a close friend, we lit a white candle and she asked all my friends to take a turn and share their thoughts of me. Needless to say, we all ended up crying like babies. It was amazing to hear what they thought of me after my temporary hiatus. I also gave a little speech and apologized to all my friends, and thanked them for being true friends and for sticking by me throughout the last few years. It was a truly remarkable day. But it took years to get to this point.
My suggestion is that while you are grieving and trying to get your life back together, focus on you and your healing. You will need strength to move forward. You will need to focus on the dramas in front of you and decide the best way to deal with them. Believe me when I tell you that you will not see clearly when your head is in chaos mode.
Your circle of friends may change over time. At the beginning when you separate, I suggest that you surround yourself with like-minded moms. What I found to be very helpful was befriending divorced women because we had something in common. Our talks and meetings were like group therapy to me. I could discuss issues that they also experienced and received great advice from them. Better yet, many of them had experience with the justice system, which helped get me to where I am today.
If you’re the type of person who is more on the positive side and you befriend someone who likes to create drama, it will not necessarily lead you down the proper path to healing. Try not to be surrounded by people who just suck all your good energy, use it for themselves and give you nothing in return.
The type of friends you need are those who are compassionate, understanding of your situation, willing and ready to listen to you and offer you sound advice. You need honest people around you, not those that will sugar-coat it all. However hard it may be to hear the truth, that truth is what you need to get you to the next level and out of the rut you’re stuck in.
Once the healing has begun and the drama is behind you, you will see how your conversations with your friends will change to more upbeat, positive-like girl talk. You need girl time! It will heal you in unimaginable ways. The laughter and the jokes will calm your nerves and give you that boost you need.
You may also notice that a friend who was once an amazing fit for you is no longer fitting that role. That’s okay. Some women tend to happily stick to their plight and have no intention of moving forward because the drama gives them purpose. They thrive on the attention these situations put them in. If you see that you are no longer this type of person, go ahead and befriend like-minded friends who have similar values, beliefs and passions as you! It can only do you good.
I believe there is a reason why people come into your life. Some good reasons, some challenging ones, but mostly to help you learn, grow and move forward with this new knowledge.
At the beginning, you may enjoy joining the “I Hate My Ex Club”. It will make you feel better to share stories with people who also hate their exes, and you offer each other the sympathy that you are desperately aching for. Hopefully though, the novelty will wear off quickly, because this is not a good club to be in. In the long run, if you want to heal and move forward, all this trash talk will just weigh you down.
Try spending your time and effort in finding solutions and new ways to lead your best new life. Hanging on to anger and frustration towards your ex will only keep you looping in circles. You don’t want circles, you want a straight line. You want to get onto your path of healing as soon as possible and start taking steps forward. Often, that means saying goodbye to the past and to the need for sympathy from your circle of friends.
The Legal Circus
How to Get Out Alive
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The Justice System
I live in Quebec, Canada. We have a justice system in Quebec, but, in my opinion, we might be better off without it. It is a nightmare to get any justice anywhere. Yes, we have laws, but they don’t fully serve you or your children. They don’t protect you from vengeful exes. Unfortunately, all too often, we hear how divorce courts welcome sagas stemming from ego, power and money, and that serve lawyers more than the people fighting for their lives. The honest parents and their children become the ultimate victims.
I always tell people that going to court is like going to see a circus show. The lawyers are the performers and the parents seeking justice are the audience watching this act unfold in front of their eyes. The grand finale is the judgement—you never know how the show will end. It’s always a great mystery. Your lawyer also cannot predict with 100 percent certainty what the outcome will be. You have lost all control of your choices. It is sad and aggravating.
In 2014, I was told that there was a delay of about nine months to one year to get a court date for divorce trial in Quebec. Apparently, the courts were backed up with an overload of cases in addition to budget cuts on our judges. With less judges available and a huge delay, it was a nightmare to get any justice before real damage kicked in. Little was also being done to detect if the issues presented in court were valid or if proof indicated that the court case was self-imposed by one party stemming only from a vengeful nature. No one was held accountable, and so the dramas were being allowed to perpetuate and enter our already heavily-filled divorce courts.
I believe the Quebec government wanted to reduce the judges’ workable hours. Their solution to this problem was a band-aid, which involved forcing mothers who were fiercely fighting for justice to sit around and wait while their children’s lives were being ripped apart, and while they were being sucked into increasing debt. The lawyers were ecstatic at this golden spoon they were given. In hopes of defusing the drama in their lives and finding peace, mothers continued to feed them their exaggerated hourly fees—fees that were likely far above what these same mothers earned at their jobs. Yet, the root of the problem was not being solved; exes were still abusing the legal system to their own personal advantage.
On January 1, 2016, the band-aid was removed, as Quebec’s new Civil Code of Procedure came into effect. It is very different in many ways, representing about five years of work, involving numerous committees, sub-committees and consultations, with an aim to modernize the procedural aspects of legal files, and, in particular, to increase access to justice. A much greater role is given in the new procedure code to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. Parties are free to create their own dispute resolution mechanisms—such as using a neutral third party they know that they can both agree on—as long as they choose it together. In addition, the new code places obligations on all actors in the judicial process, including lawyers, judges, third-party neutrals such as mediators, and also clients. Some of these duties are new and some existed before, but have been strengthened in the new procedure code.
A very important change is that now lawyers and their clients must at least consider adopting an alternate dispute resolution approach before referring their file to the courts. If they do end up in court, they must be able to explain what kind of consideration was given to ADR.
Clients who voluntarily choose the ADR route are required to act in good faith, to share all information in their possession, and to participate actively in the search for viable solutions to the issues facing them. They must restrict the case to what is necessary to resolve the dispute, and avoid acting with the intent to cause prejudice to another person or behaving in an excessive or unreasonable manner. They must cooperate with each other and keep each other informed of all relevant facts in the case.
The new procedure code lays out the principle of proportionality, and it applies to all actors in a court proceeding. This means that everyone, from clients to lawyers to judges, must be mindful that any steps taken in a file are proportionate, in terms of the cost and time involved, as compared to the nature and complexity of the dispute.
If the parties do find themselves going to court, one of the first tasks they are going to face under the new procedure code is the drafting of a case protocol. Under the old procedure code, the lawyers had to agree on a timetable for the orderly conduct of proceedings, setting out the agreed-upon deadlines for the completion of certain preliminary steps, such as the exchange of documents, the holding of discovery examinations and the completion of experts’ reports that might be required to get a file to a stage of readiness. The “case protocol” under the new procedure code includes a timetable for the completion of preliminary matters and it also requires that lawyers go much further: they are expected to work together, to set out any preliminary agreements that may be reached, to explain the way in which ADR was considered for the file. They must also set out the required preliminary steps and a timetable for their completion, including an assessment of the amount of time that will be required and how much each step will cost. The case protocol is expected to cover all aspects that might arise in getting a file to readiness stage.
In addition to the new procedure code, in 2015, there was a major revision of the Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers. It is now every lawyer’s duty to consider other recourses besides going to court; not just at the beginning of the file, but throughout the duration of that lawyer’s mandate to represent the client. This new provision recognizes that files change over time, and so a mechanism for settlement may become an option where one previously did not exist. It is every lawyer’s duty to bring this to the attention of their clients at any stage of the file, if the possibility for settlement presents itself.
There are many other procedural changes in the new code; this brief summary touches on some of the more important differences.
The new procedure code has been described as bringing a major culture shift to the field of legal procedure in the province of Quebec. It is no longer sufficient for lawyers to simply explain the law and how it applies to their client. Lawyers are now expected to go much further in assisting their clients to resolve their disputes without going to court if possible, and, where court is unavoidable, lawyers must now actively work together to limit the debate to those issues that cannot be resolved by the parties themselves. This minimizes the amount of time spent in front of a judge.
The penalties for not respecting the provisions of the new procedure code include the possibility of obliging the offending party to pay the legal costs incurred by the other side. In the past, the courts only awarded costs based on a reduced tariff, but the new procedure code opens the door to the possibility of much larger cost awards. As these changes are relatively new, it remains to be seen how judges will interpret the new provisions, including those on the issue of costs as well as compliance with the new duties placed on all parties to cooperate with each other while searching for solutions to the issues confronting them. Hopefully this will not become another loophole in our justice system. Time will tell if this type of system is more favourable to the families involved and should be followed by other countries.
What is it like where you live? Do you agree with me? I hope to hear from you.
My ex and I went to one mediation session together, which ended in a massive blowout fight and we never went back again. Nothing was resolved.
Even though mediation is a better alternative to litigation, there are some pitfalls as circumstances can change. Something needs to be done about this, as everyone is losing out—you, your ex, the mediator and the government who is paying our bills. (In Quebec, you receive five free hours of mediation if you meet certain criteria.)
For instance, let’s say you choose to commit to mediation. Be aware that your mediator cannot represent you in court. You and your ex may start off on amicable terms and are both ready to settle outside of court. So you hire a mediator, a neutral third party attorney who sits with you and your ex, without your own legal counsel present. Even though your mediator may be a lawyer (they could also be a psychologist or sociologist), mediators do not give legal advice. They are there to help you and your ex communicate with each other, and to help you and your ex reach the decisions that you both feel are best in your particular case. After hearing both parties’ positions, this mediator may ultimately suggest the most appropriate list of do’s and don’ts—which is ultimately his/her version of the best outcome based on the facts and the laws.
If you and your ex have completely different communication styles, for example, if one of you tends to talk a lot, and the other to remain silent most of the time, this can make your mediation more difficult, because one of you is monopolizing the conversation, and the mediator needs to learn as much as possible from both of you. Some mediators can effectively negotiate this, by listening to the talkative one, and then asking the silent one to comment, or contribute their views of things.
If there is domestic violence in the relationship and the mediator is made aware of this, they may decide to terminate the mediation, because there is a good chance that any agreements reached in the mediation sessions were not freely made.
While mediation can be very inexpensive, this process is not entirely free of charge since it may take more than five sessions to agree on all terms. You must bear in mind that you will also have to pay for your own private lawyer for advice on the laws, your rights and the lawyer’s recommendations to help you prepare you for your mediation sessions. While you are in midst of the mediation process you may need more legal advice in case things don’t go smoothly as you originally planned. There is no way of knowing exactly how much you will spend on legal fees—it depends on how complicated your file is. Experience and my own findings have indicated to me that once you have monetary issues, such as a division of assets, your file will take longer to settle. If children are involved and you have custody issues, this could also cause a dent in your finances and a delay in finalizing.
So, now you just spent time with this peaceful mediator; he/she has become familiar with your case and both parties’ positions and is ready to conclude. You’re happy. But that can be temporary, because at any time during the process or after a recommendation has been made by the mediator, for instance, your ex may renege and refuse to sign the agreement. Now your mediation sessions will take a turn and go sour.
Maybe he played you from the beginning, making you believe he was ready and willing to settle with you. Perhaps he feels that he has a better chance to win by going to court, as he discovered something new or because his attorney convinced him that he can get more from court. Whatever his motives, he has flipped the switch, and that changes the course of events. You are now stuck in a horrific position and have to start all over again. All the money you spent up until this point is just the beginning of your wasted funds. You are now being forced to pay more legal fees in order to have your attorney represent you in court and you have now walked into the litigation world. Your ex knows this and he is probably laughing because he knows that he just caused you to spend more wasted funds- especially when he knows your budget is tight. He has also caused you emotional harm, which may be what he wanted as he sees this as his ticket to win his battle. He also knows that there are no legal consequences for him in backing out of this mediation. He is ready and willing to play the game of chance in court. He doesn’t care how much it will cost you or him. He wants your blood and this mediation did not give him enough. He deeply desires more. You know the saying, kick ‘em when they’re down? This is what he will do now, and you’ve just been sucked into a whole new series of challenges. It’s a sad but clever and well-known tactic.
If, during the mediation process, the mediator has helped you to reach an agreement in a few areas that had been under discussion, these could, and should end up being concluded in an agreement so as to avoid the need to repeat the same debates again in court. Your lawyers should be willing to do this, so that you and your ex don’t end up having to reinvent the wheel on each of the issues facing you, in front of the judge.
Collaborative lawyers have practiced litigation and are very well versed in family law. They have also had specialized training, and hold a special designation to practice collaborative law.
Generally speaking, from the few collaborative lawyers I have met, they tend to be more humane and actually care about their clients and the end results that will benefit the children. They are eager to change the pattern from nasty divorces to more peaceful ones. Their angle is solution-based such that instead of focusing on the past, they are looking to minimize the drama by helping find solutions that will allow their clients to go on with their lives in peace and with ease.
If you and your ex are truly out for the best interest of whatever is left of your family, you should take a more peaceful approach towards ending your marriage and work towards the best outcome of co-parenting. With the help of a collaborative lawyer, you stand a better chance of accomplishing this by having complete control of your lives.
In my opinion, collaborative law is the way to go. From all the options available, I believe this one truly works to everyone’s present and future benefit. You will have the power to make all choices that suit your family’s needs. No other third party who knows nothing about you nor your true realities can make any decisions for your family without your consent. This is key.
The process starts off with both you and your ex each hiring your own collaborative lawyer. All four of you will sign an agreement stating that you will make all efforts to settle your issues amicably and out of courts. Otherwise, everyone loses, as your collaborative lawyers are not permitted to represent you in court. So you would all have to start all over again, which is to no one’s true benefit.
The best part is that all negotiations will be made with all four of you in the same room at the same time. It opens up the gate to communication—a critical aspect that is stolen from you when using litigation lawyers and going to divorce court.
Collaborative lawyers offer various services in order that conflicts be settled by a neutral party. For instance, a neutral financial advisor can determine the true market value of your assets if you and your ex cannot agree on its present value.
I personally believe that the cost of using a collaborative lawyer will, overall, be significantly less than taking the rougher approach that can lead to years of divorce courts. However, your ultimate total legal bill will depend on your case and on you and your ex. Just like in divorce courts, no one has a crystal ball that can predict the total cost. However, it is easier to calculate how much you are spending on legal fees during this process and you can ultimately decide, at any time, when the spending must come to an end. This will force you to finalize matters as you see you have more to lose than to gain by perpetuating any arguments.
One big difference between litigated divorce and collaborative divorce is that with litigation attorneys, the fights and the funds you will have to spend to protect yourself have no limits. The sagas rarely end quickly—it would defeat many litigation attorneys’ purpose to settle quickly, as they can only bill you when you are at war with your ex. In a collaborative divorce, you see the results unfold in front of you as you sit with your ex to discuss all options openly, respectfully and in good faith. Things move at the speed that you and your ex need them to. YOU are in complete control of the entire process, from start to end.
Another big difference between litigated divorce and collaborative divorce is the effect it can have on your relationship with your ex. If you and your ex don’t agree on something in the collaborative divorce, you won’t be spending your time on listing each other’s faults in a document, so that a judge can decide the issue for you. What you will do is learn to communicate better – to speak in a neutral tone of voice, instead of insulting each other at every opportunity, to listen to what each of you has to say, and to understand why each of you feels the way you do. This is called “interest-based negotiation”, and it gets behind the positions that you and your ex have each taken on an issue, to arrive at a better understanding of the interests that each person is trying to protect, in adopting what they say their position is.
Here is an example that I heard from a collaborative lawyer:
Jane and John are getting divorced. They have children, and a house. Jane wants the house, and so does John. They seem to be at an impasse, as they have opposing positions on the question of the house, since there is only one house, and they obviously can’t both have it.
If they were going to court, they would each spend a lot of time and money, trying to explain to a judge why they each deserve to have the house. They would probably feel that it will help their case to criticize each other, and bring up incidents from their past, even if these old stories have nothing to do with the house question. At the end of a long and costly fight, a judge will decide for them who gets the house. But nothing would change – there is still only one house, and all they will get from court is a ruling as to who gets it. Nothing else, no deeper understanding of the other person’s needs and fears, no opportunity to really explain to your ex why you feel the way you do, just a win-lose outcome. And the “win” part of that is debatable, because even the winner has probably spent so much money to get there that it doesn’t feel much like they won anything at all.
On the other hand, if Jane and John have chosen to hire collaborative lawyers, they will be encouraged to explain to each other the interests behind their positions of each insisting on keeping the house. They may discover that Jane wants to keep the house because she is afraid that she won’t have a roof over her head, and that John wants the house because he is afraid the kids won’t visit him if he doesn’t live there. So while each person’s position is in direct conflict with the other’s, their interests are not. Now that John and Jane have a better understanding of each other’s concerns, they can start looking at ways to resolve the real issues – Jane’s fear of living in poverty, and John’s fear of being cut off from his children. Now, the question of the house is much more easily dealt with, because Jane’s and John’s deeper emotional connections to it are understood.
Collaborative lawyers call this a win-win outcome, where each person comes as close as possible to what they really want, what is most important for them in the divorce.
If issues arise in the future or modifications have to be made to an agreement, this more peaceful collaborative route is easier and could end up costing you much less in the long run, as you have now learned to have open discussions rather than send in the lawyers to perpetuate the drama at a heavy cost. I don’t see any reason to have to give your attorneys more money if it can be avoided.
The collaborative law route is also more amenable to co-parenting. Judges don’t necessarily think about the minute details involving custody arrangements—and that ends up leaving parents open to more drama and fights. Judges should lay out all these details, but that is not always the case. And when they do, they may either miss some critical points or make an arbitrary decision that doesn’t suit you or your ex.
With litigation, not only have you just spent a bundle to fight for your children, but you then find that many issues are still not resolved as you still have to argue with the ex over pick-up times, locations, exact dates for winter/summer breaks and many other issues. With the assistance of your collaborative lawyers, you can easily prepare something called a co-parenting plan, whereby you and your ex will actually have a say in the matter and learn to co-operate and communicate while doing this exercise. Ultimately, you are starting on the right track towards a solid foundation of parenting your kids, while with you each live your two separate lives.
The most important factor to keep in mind is that when you begin your divorce in an amicable fashion—where there is less aggression and animosity, less feeling of being cheated, less taking advantage of the law and its loopholes—the smoother your divorce will play out. The bitterness can be eliminated. You can speak your mind, and eventually move on. Your children can be less scarred compared to the lifelong damage of a painful divorce that was dragged out in court. There is a reason why collaborative law is successful around the world and why families have saved themselves years of unnecessary spending, heartache and pain. This is often where ego and power are stabilized. Isn’t the ultimate point of divorcing to go on with your life and start anew? I would have preferred choosing this path that would have allowed me to start my new chapter with less psychological, emotional and physical damages to my children and to myself. I didn’t use this route because I didn’t know about the Quebec Collaborative Law Group. I wish I had.
Your Ex Hired a Lawyer…
First off, it is imperative that I mention that all too many women make the grave mistake of settling matters directly with their ex before they have hired a lawyer— before even knowing their rights. In my opinion, you should never make any decisions when you are in a state of desperation, anger or denial. It’s something you will likely regret. If you can’t think straight or are too emotional and think that by doing that one specific thing, your ex will go away and be out of your head and out of your life, in an acrimonious atmosphere, you are wrong. It doesn’t work like this. It may just be the first round of many yet to come your way. For instance, if you think that it’s best to dump your house so that you never have to be reminded of your ex, think again. It may be a financially smarter move to give the house a makeover—buy a new mattress, paint the walls—than losing an investment that could be the key to your future stability and livelihood.
My suggestion is that you treat your divorce as a worst-case scenario until you hire a lawyer. Have your doubts, double and triple guess your ex’s motives, don’t say yes to anything yet. I cannot stress this enough!
The following is a perfect example. If your ex hired a lawyer before you did, your ex may know more about the law than you do and he can play this to your complete disadvantage. He can start proceedings before you have retained your lawyer. This would put you in a rush mode to find an attorney and will most likely not give you adequate time to do any research to ensure proper representation. Or worse yet, learn from the biggest mistake of one Jane I met. Her ex, the only income earner in the family, came home one day and dropped the bomb on Jane and told her he wanted a divorce. He told her he was moving out the next day into his new apartment (with his new girlfriend, no less). He convinced Jane that she had to sign the agreement he presented her with in order to sell the house immediately. In fact, he wanted to dump it at any cost. John caught Jane in her most vulnerable moment to force her to sign out of desperation and used her fear as his tactic.
Jane signed. Within a few weeks, she found herself hung out to dry, nearly homeless, jobless, no family to help her, three children to care for and not a penny to her name. She had to pick herself up and re-start a new life before she ever even had a chance to grieve. Needless to say, she went through hell and back. Months later, she realized this was a dirty tactic and that John, the man she once trusted, completely deceived her. His goal was to ensure that his wallet stayed thick all while literally depleting her. She understood that she had made the biggest mistake—she didn’t realize that she had rights and could have better protected herself just as her ex protected himself, by mandating an attorney while he was still technically married and living in the same house as her. At this point it was too late to correct her mistakes—she should have spoken with an attorney before signing any agreement.
Drafting a Divorce Agreement
Many lawyers will help you draft a divorce agreement. This could be a simple process, where a few pages summarize how life will go on. Or it can be longer, with some detail on important questions. Unfortunately, if you started out in court, this too can be painful and extremely expensive—a route that I followed because I didn’t know any better. It took more than one year to finalize our divorce agreement because my ex and I didn’t see eye to eye on many issues. It didn’t help that we had an agreement that looked like a fifty-page novel detailing an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts. You can imagine how many topics we had to argue about. I ended up giving up everything I was entitled to for the sake of peace, or so I thought. I literally walked out of my divorce with IKEA furniture and not a dime to my name. I had lost a lot of money in the process. The repeated pattern went something like this: My ex asked for something, I said no and he constantly nagged me by repeating his demands over and over again until I agreed for the sake of peace. Then he would demand something else, I gave in again because I was made to believe that it would be in my ultimate best interest and I was afraid that if I didn’t, I would end up in court again. At the time, I was petrified of court. This pattern was repeated time after time until I finally overcame my fears and learned to say no to whatever didn’t suit me or my children.
I was told by one lawyer that even though I wasn’t pleased with the agreement, I should sign it or I may end up being forty years old and dying of cancer! Apparently he saw this happening to many people. It was suggested to me to take what I could get and move on with my life since I would never win. Even though I thought my lawyer was saying this because he wasn’t earning enough from me and wanted to get my file over with, I signed the agreement. It was painful to lose everything I had and felt I was entitled to. In hindsight, I now understand why I was told this. Many of people believe these agreements will protect them from any and all harm in the future. They believe it is set in stone and they can continue their lives peacefully. But, that’s not the way it works. You can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on this agreement to only to learn, over the following years, that it was a huge waste of money and energy. Maybe you thought you were buying your peace, when in fact, you were digging your own grave because it doesn’t necessarily end there. You can be seen by your ex as someone who gives up easily, and he will take full advantage of this each time the two of you don’t see eye to eye. You may even come to think that the whole process was so carefully masterminded, that the craziness of your stories would make a great script for a movie.
Ideally, you hope to fairly split the assets in an amicable fashion and move on. But when you get involved in divorce litigation, the very assets you are fighting about become fuel for the litigation, and available funds become obsolete as they are used to pay enormous legal fees. What a complete waste. Many attorneys have confirmed to me that it is a common tactic to wear the other side down, both emotionally and financially. Every time your ex chooses not to follow what is written in your divorce agreement, you will have to go to court to have the judge force him to do so, a procedure that can end up costing you another fortune, not to mention emotional trauma. In my case, I tried to have our respective lawyers cooperate in discussions and negotiations over such issues, but my attempts always failed. It always ended up in court.
If I could redo this process again, I would sign a simple agreement with the very basics for the upcoming twelve to eighteen months and have it reviewed when required—keeping it open to change in circumstances. I would also not consider this document as the key to my survival and peace. Why? It’s quite simple: Who knows what will come up in two years or ten? Who knows what school the children should attend? Does it not make logical sense that, as the children get older, their educational needs may need to be adjusted? Who can predict what sports your children will unexpectedly want to try and the teams they will want to join that would cost money you had never considered in the past? Who knows what kind of health matters will suddenly appear that require paid fees? Who knows where everyone will work and what their incomes will be and what expenses will be considered appropriate? It is completely ridiculous to try to predict the future. No more novel-like agreements. Simple and dedicated to the right now.
I now know that lawyers are supposed to tell you that any significant change where children are concerned, can bring on a revision of your agreement. You should not be misled to believe that it’s an end-all document as they try to justify their exorbitant legal fees.
Some people hold the misconception that it is better and less expensive to settle all matters at the beginning, while everyone is fresh and willing to sign. You could do so, but do not be surprised if you are faced one day with unexpected required modifications that will only end up costing you another bundle. So why go through this lengthy and expensive process to begin with? If, at the beginning of the separation, you draft something that accurately portrays the current reality, your total bill will end up being lower than drafting a too-long and too-detailed agreement that attempts to predict the unknown. In doing so, you will both be off building your new lives, in peace and (hopefully) in harmony. In the future, if something unexpected shows up, it will most likely still not cost you the bundle you would have paid for a very long and detailed agreement. Chances are that due to your peaceful settlement, you will have followed the pathway to proper communication and co-parenting. In this case, it should cost less because the courts will not be involved.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Some Tips and Advice.
There are different types of family divorce attorneys. Do you think they are all equal in experience, knowledge and ability to help you get to your desired outcome? They are definitely not. Nor do they all have the same level of interest in their clients, and desire to truly help them improve a bad situation.
If you choose to hire a lawyer, it is critical that you do your research to find out who will be best for your case. You have to choose well, as they will be your voice in all dealings with the other lawyer, and in front of a judge, as well as your protection against a vengeful ex. Not only must you ensure that they understand your needs and requirements, you must be certain they will honestly and diligently work on bringing you the best possible result. That is a hard task.
Many of you hire lawyers via word of mouth. You ask for recommendations from your network of friends and family. I think this is a good place to start. However, what many of you learn the hard way is that an exceptional lawyer for one person may not be ideal for another. That’s because every divorce case is unique. Often people don’t realize this until the damage has been done and it is extremely complicated, lengthy and costly to change, if not impossible. A good thing to do is to speak to the lawyer over the phone, to get a sense of whether your personalities are a good fit. If you like them, you may decide to go for a face-to-face consultation. Get an idea of what this will cost up front.
Beware of lawyers who seem to want to impress you. It is easy for a lawyer to tell you what you want to hear, and get themselves a nice advance, but when push comes to shove, they don’t necessarily act as promised, or your case is not as strong as they led you to believe. Basically, they are expecting you to trust them to make the best moves and best decisions for your life. So shop around before you sign a mandate with any lawyer, if you can. I know that your head will be filled with many emotions and fear and I know without doubt that trying to find the best lawyer for you can be intimidating. But I cannot stress enough how important it is. Believe me when I tell you that if you don’t do this, you will regret it even more when the damage is done.
I can tell you that I have personally spent a ridiculous amount of funds on legal fees. I had no choice. Here is why:
At first, upon separation, I had no idea what divorce court was really all about. I didn’t know what to expect. I also did not have the kind of money needed to hire a top-of-the-line lawyer. I saw my case as being clear cut. All the balls were in my court—or so I thought. I hired a junior lawyer. In my case, he appeared to be all talk, no action. After one opportunity to prove his abilities, live in action, I realized that he didn’t know how to “play the game”. Many younger attorneys are hungry for your business and to build their reputation in an extremely competitive market, and often they work very hard for your case. But keep in mind that a junior may also not have the experience to effectively pursue the outcome you want, especially if your ex’s lawyer is very experienced and wants to win at any cost. In my opinion, experience trumps in divorce courts. As a result of his inexperience, I suffered financially for years. So much for my slam-dunk case.
Following this, I chose to represent myself. I thought I was prepared and would excel at it. I am an educated person with a university degree and was convinced that I was able to express reality and believed that was what court was all about. Truth is, I had no idea what was to come. This court appearance wasn’t about finding peace and closure and I ended up getting a not-so-favourable judgement. When I was in court, I knew I was missing something but I didn’t know how to deliver it. After this point, I never underestimated my court proceedings. I realized that it was all a game I knew nothing about and was afraid, for good reason, to fight on my own, because the consequences would be enormous. Even though I knew what was right for my children and myself, I needed a professional to handle this case.
The next time after that, I decided to hire a senior lawyer with his own small firm. He made it crystal clear to me that he did not represent anyone in court and would take my case on the condition that the matter could be settled amicably. At this point, I just needed to finalize my divorce agreement, which was mostly complete, but had a few parts that required some tweaking. I thought it could and should be done out of court and was hopeful that I would be forever done with legal battles. I ended up signing a ridiculous divorce agreement for the sake of peace and quiet. However, it didn’t end there. This lawyer was no longer able to represent me as months later, I was back in court, and I was then faced with having to hire a new litigation attorney.
At the next appearance in divorce court, a close friend of mine convinced me to go big. So I hired an attorney from a reputable law firm. I paid one week’s salary for their one hour of work. Isn’t that insane? At first, I was certain he would finally end the sagas and bring me justice. He had experience working with my ex’s lawyer and was working at a well-known firm with a reputation to uphold. I thought I was finally safe. I have never been so wrong. Never judge a book by its cover. By the time I realized what had been done, it was too late; the damage would affect me and my children for years to come, damage for which we paid dearly. That was when I realized that hiring ridiculously expensive legal representation did not guarantee better results.
Shortly thereafter, I hired a partner at his own law firm and I finally got justice. Did I get everything I wanted and asked for? No. Should I have? I strongly believe that I should have gotten more, but my life was out of my hands and the outcome was determined by a judge who didn’t see my reality and issues as I saw them. In addition, I believe that some of our laws make no sense. I find it to be an impossibility to know if you have convinced a total stranger, a judge, of your true struggles and issues when they are only listening and never responding back to you. This is the game of chance I was referring to earlier. Going to a divorce court is like gambling. You just never know what the outcome will be.
This brings me to a tough question: Do you hire a lawyer who has never directly worked with your ex’s lawyer? At first it seemed to me that, when your lawyer is up against a lawyer he has had absolutely no experience with, you are paying for his trial and error. Even if you advise your lawyer that the opposing lawyer is playing games, and you explain how and why and what your past experience has been, your lawyer will not know how to play ball until the ball is pitched directly to him. And during this whole “let me get to know the other lawyer process”, not much good is going to happen except that the lawyers get richer while you get poorer and your children continue to suffer. I now realize that it doesn’t matter as much if the lawyers know each other or not, but it may matter more if your lawyer is willing to step up to the plate when playing ball.
Many people believe it’s critical to spend the extra money on a lawyer of at least equivalent experience as your ex’s lawyer. They are convinced that their higher fees are worth paying for because they will achieve better results. You would think this is a major advantage to you. Jane imagined this would be true believing that the two lawyers in her case were both legit and would work according to the law, and were guided by their code of ethics. She didn’t realize that it can be the contrary as they worked preferred to feed their egos and power struggles. Jane asked me to share the lesson she learned: don’t underestimate the power of them knowing their opponent and thus, being aware of each others’ tactics. You and your ex each hired a litigation lawyer to win for you. If they are good at it but only care about winning, then they will do everything they can for their victory, and that can cost you both a lot. It can start to feel like they are playing you and your ex for fools by swinging you both around from one mess into another. And you may not even realize this is happening, especially when you both don’t communicate with one another.
However you look at this, it’s a bad business deal. If your ex is wealthy, his lawyer probably sees the client as a cash cow—an endless money pit filled with loads of cash and possibly other goodies—he has no incentive to settle your file quickly. In the worst case scenario, it can seem like it is not an ethical practice that one lawyer gains while three, four or more people lose.
Many exes know very well that their lawyer is taking them for a ride, whether they will openly admit it or not. Or, perhaps the truth is buried very deep in their subconscious. However, in their quest for victory at any cost, they would rather give their lawyer the extra funds to win than give the money to you and to their own flesh and blood. So, they will keep fighting you until you give up.
Often, your ex’s biggest issue may be that he thinks that since the money is going directly into your pocket, you are using it for yourself. This is dangerous, as he has no desire to help you live a nice life. They can be traumatized by this notion—even though the truth is that the money goes to the children for basic necessities. Mothers just happen to be forced in the middle of this collection and payout process, just as they are forced into being a player in this court game. It boils down to zero choices, which leads to loads of aggressiveness.
Sadly, the losers will always be the innocent children.
My biggest failure in hiring the appropriate lawyer was that I didn’t know enough about the process. I should have done a ridiculous amount of research. You must too. If you can’t find any information online, start talking to as many people as you can. Get the scoop. Ask for details about the cases that a particular lawyer has worked on, to make sure their previous cases sound familiar to yours. You can read through all the lawyer’s ratings and reviews online, but don’t go just on that. You can go one step further and consult blogs or use social media to ask people for detailed reviews of the pros and cons of the attorney you are considering. Remember, this research goes beyond the superficial “Great attorney, I highly recommend”. Find out why and how. Now that you are better versed in the justice system, I suggest you dig deeper and get the answers to the loopholes, if you want to avoid being victim to them. Once you have your answers to the real questions, you will have better odds in finding yourself an attorney that is well-equipped to do battle in court, if you unlucky enough to find yourself there.
In retrospect, I was not aware of the profound consequences of my bad choices. I was overwhelmed. I was empty. I was running on a critically low battery. I had small children to care for completely on my own. I didn’t realize how ugly divorce can be. I believed in the justice system. I trusted lawyers blindly. I was naïve.
One thing I did realize is that it greatly mattered who would represent me and my children. Through referrals, I searched high and low for a humane lawyer who would refuse to see me and my children suffer unnecessarily. I was desperately seeking someone who knew of the loopholes in the justice system and would literally fight to the core for justice. I wanted to find a lawyer who refused to play ugly for the sake of turning me into his cash cow—a common issue in this industry. The only way I could have done this was by conducting extensive research and interviewing various lawyers until I found the right one. The drawback to this was that I would have had to pay each lawyer I interviewed their hourly rate for these consultations. I was not in a position to continuously spend this kind of money. In addition, I was short on time because proceedings were starting, and I had to find proper representation and legal advice pronto. Hence, it was an extremely difficult endeavour and took me more than one try. It became a game of chance, trial and error. Many others feel the same way and are feeling overwhelmed by this process.
Did I lose my trust in lawyers? Most definitely. Did I lose my faith in the justice system? Without a doubt. Ask people you know in your network if they trust lawyers and don’t be surprised by their replies. I didn’t quite understand how I lost so much when I believed all the balls were in my court. Today I have learned that although lawyers must abide by a code of ethics, their clients should not go in blindly. If you find that you are questioning your attorneys’ motives and watching their every move, you probably have not made a good choice. Make sure you hire someone that you trust, who will answer your questions on strategy, procedure, and contingencies, and not just quote the law. Once you have found someone you feel deserves your respect and trust, then try to let them do their job. I am told by a lawyer I know that it is not always easy or even possible to explain to a client the entire thought process that goes into all of the decisions they make on how to handle a particular file. That said, if you’ve found a lawyer you trust and have respect for, you should be able to ask them as many questions as it takes for you to understand the why and how of what is going on in your case. Today I am wiser. My suffering has taught me that I was misled in many ways and the lesson learned is in now knowing how to change this course around. I remain a self-proclaimed delusional optimist, believing that things can and will change.
Inhumane Shark Lawyers
Many inhumane lawyers—those that many refer to as “sharks”—have built themselves empires in our courthouses. They have created an incredible system of gaining power and money through people’s personal pain and suffering, including our children’s.
I have heard of some lawyers who are in court every single weekday morning juggling two to four clients at the same time. Apparently, double to quadruple billing per hour is allowed in Quebec’s justice system. How is it even legally possible that a Jane and three other clients are billed for the same hour of work by the same attorney? If I was able to earn $1,600 per hour, I would also be able to build myself an empire— especially if there were no laws to prevent me from working in such unethical ways. Have you heard of this in your country or province? I am utterly shocked that this is legal, or better yet ethical.
For example, one woman I met found herself sitting around in court with her hourly-paid lawyer, waiting for her ex’s lawyer to show up so that they could present their case in front of a judge. Unfortunately, the ex’s attorney was busy working on another client’s file and was ‘not available’. So, this Jane’s case was bumped and there was now a two-hour delay. Jane was upset and knew it was fundamentally wrong, but what could she do? Nothing.
This is where another major flaw exists. When your lawyer and your ex’s lawyer run their show in the same manner, taking several files to court on the same day, you are at a dead end. Of course you didn’t know this when you hired your lawyer—he would never have disclosed this to you and you would never even think of asking this important question. Maybe now you would. And what are you going to do about it if you tell him to put a stop to this nonsense? Fire him when you are minutes away from stepping into the courtroom? Tell him you will refuse to pay his legal fees for those hours? Even if your lawyer is not the type to take multiple cases to motions court on the same day, you can still suffer if your ex’s lawyer has that practice. There is not much that your lawyer can do about another lawyer’s behaviour. You are basically being held hostage. And even if your lawyer doesn’t play dirty like this, will he stop this nonsense or insist that you sit tight, quietly and patiently while he is billing you by the hour? What if your lawyer would actually say something to the other lawyer? The other lawyer doesn’t have to listen to your lawyer because no one is held accountable.
Many people have had the displeasure of coming across some funky work and legal ethics. We won’t get into which ones—if you are an attorney or a victimized client of what I have been describing, you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, ask around. And guess what? Even though your lawyer may know that your ex’s lawyer is doing some dicey stuff, no other lawyer is willing to rat on another. You know why? For one, no one is willing to put their career and reputation on the line. Because many of them know each other on a social level outside of the courthouse, they feel the need to protect each other. They also know that at the end of the day, with the way the court system is working, if they speak out against their confrère, it will only open up Pandora’s Box. Sadly, no one is brave enough to open this box. After all, this is their livelihood you are talking about.
Here’s a picture of what to expect when your ex hires a shark lawyer. Let’s suppose that his lawyer’s reputation is that he always ends up getting everything he wants for his client. How? Because this lawyer has built an empire in the courthouse and can do his job blindfolded. He knows the ins and outs of the law, what judges will and won’t object to and has befriended the judges and has masterfully learned all of their individual soft spots and hard edges. And, because your life and well-being—and the well-being of your children—means absolutely nothing to him, he will play games to get you to crack. He is also known for not negotiating in advance because he would rather bill the extra hours in order to go to court. He is known for not playing fair. He will drag you to the courts for every single little ridiculous thing, legitimate or not.
What is the problem with this? For one, it is a fact that while this lawyer is earning a great income, “Jane” is now being forced into insurmountable debt, trauma, unnecessary aggravation and threats to her health. More importantly, there is now less money available for the children’s needs. In addition, this gives John the strength and power and the will to fight with no end in sight. Why? Because while hiding behind his lawyer, John is certain he will get everything he wants. Even if it means Jane’s total destruction. Even if it causes her children’s lives to be ripped apart. All sorts of new problems will arise and Jane is hit with one blow after another. The lawyer can also do a great job at making John your arch enemy. And now Jane has been treated like a criminal.
It is with great disappointment that I tell you that this has happened to three mothers I have met who have all been the victims of the exact same attorney that their ex had hired. The scariest part of this story is that they all came from completely different income brackets and background stories, yet, this lawyer was able to twist and turn everyone’s lives to fit into a perfect mold—a mold that was one size fits all. This was a truly masterminded plan.
Furthermore, I discovered that this all started with this lawyer who painted their exes with an ugly and scary picture of what can happen if he doesn’t protect his rights—even when there was no question of rights, but only of ego and power trips. And, of course, with the sole purpose of a heavy invoice. In this case, every argument stemmed from their ex’s false fear and conviction that all he was doing was creating a fight that didn’t exist.
It seems that many of the situations you will be facing can be invented or fabricated. One woman explained how she had the displeasure of fighting for years with her ex on an agreement he insisted she sign. She refused to sign it, as it was not only to her complete disadvantage but she was strongly advised by an attorney that it was illegal and not to waste any time or effort on it. It was as if her ex was simply trying to trap her again and dig her grave. This situation caused years of dramatic events filled with her ex’s anger and desire for more revenge. The day finally came when this drama ended. All along, he would not listen to her argument that the agreement was against the law—until the day a judge told him that this agreement would have never been ratified in court. Imagine that. He fought her high and low for years and tried to paint her as the perpetrator of all the drama. She lived through an indescribable amount of pain and agony over this matter. Do you think anyone was held accountable for this action? No. Do you think her ex changed his tune? No. Do you think anyone paid her back for the monstrous legal bills she paid to get her ex off her back? No. Do you think anyone cared that she suffered needlessly? No. Do you think her ex stopped using this lawyer after he found out that his lawyer milked him for money on an agreement that was deemed illegal? No.
Inhumane shark lawyers love your drama. They actually thrive on your pain because it equates to a secured recurring income. It’s really quite a simple formula: the more you fight with your ex and the more he detests you, the more money flows to his lawyer. Once a lawyer smells fresh meat, he will hold onto to this client tightly, even if it means massaging the truth or reality.
Who will be the best lawyer to protect you now? Do you want to be taken for a ride?
For those of you who have an ex that hired a shark lawyer, you will likely spend time trying to analyze how long he will be able to sustain the legal fees based on his current financial situation. You may feel certain that you have it all figured out because you know your ex’s financial limits or his character…or so you thought. For instance, your ex may start off strong with a lawyer and run a huge bill on all types of legal proceedings, making major demands in an attempt to scare you and throw you off balance. It may or may not work. Suppose he finally runs out of money and/or depletes his credit lines, and you know he can no longer afford his attorney. You will be happy, but it could fade away.
You will only be safe if your ex drops the whole case or if he ends up representing himself. If, on the other hand, he just gets hungrier for revenge, he will sell off assets or start borrowing from others. My point is, you never really know how your ex will react when pushed up against his self-made wall. Many mothers have been taken by surprise when thinking that they could predict the outcome. However, many have lost by not realizing that the ex’s money was coming from a bottomless pit, as revenge trumped all.
Quebec Code of Professional
Conduct of Lawyers
All lawyers are bound by a professional code of ethics. In Quebec, it is called the Quebec Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers—an Act respecting the Barreau du Québec. For the fun of it, I pulled out a few items from this Code:
4. A lawyer must act with honour, dignity, integrity, respect, moderation and courtesy.
7. A lawyer must avoid all methods and attitudes likely to give a profit-seeking character to his profession, namely, greedily seeking a profit or abusing his status as a lawyer in order to enrich himself.
8. A lawyer who offers his professional services cannot, by any means whatsoever, make or allow to be made a representation that is false or misleading, that amounts to coercion, duress, or harassment or that seeks to take advantage of a person who is vulnerable due, in particular, to his age or his physical or psychological condition.
15. A lawyer must not conceal or knowingly omit to disclose what the law obliges him to disclose or help anyone conceal or omit to disclose what the law obliges that person to disclose.
16. A lawyer must not provoke a dispute in order to obtain a mandate or reap a benefit therefrom for himself or for any other person.
DUTIES PERTAINING TO MANDATES
§2. Performance of mandate
37. A lawyer must be honest and candid when advising clients.
101. A lawyer must charge and accept fair and reasonable fees and disbursements.
130. A lawyer must, to the extent it is possible for him, contribute to the development of education and information for the public relating to the field in which he practises.
132. A lawyer must collaborate with other lawyers in the interests of clients and the sound administration of justice.
[+ Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers. [ONLINE]+]
Interesting, isn’t it? How many of you personally recognized any of these traits during your dealings with lawyers? Or, the exact opposite?
If you can’t get a lawyer to do his job honestly and with no ulterior motive, and you cannot get any justice when going to the Barreau du Quebec, what is the point of a code of conduct? Why have a code of ethics? Why are the lawyers being taught the importance of this code in law school? All I have to say is that there must be more accountability, and that the parents and the children should not be the ultimate losers while the attorneys gain so much more.
Imagine this scenario: You are struggling through separation or are already divorced, and matters come up that must be dealt with in court. Do you believe you are capable of successfully navigating through the legal system and its loopholes? Would you be able to prevent any damage to you and your children? These are the questions to ask when you consider representing yourself.
I took on the challenge myself. At the time, the Quebec Justice System was very much aware that there were more and more people representing themselves in court. I remember coming across information on the government’s website explaining the issues in such cases. Apparently, the influx of self-representation was causing problems in the courts—people were showing up with the wrong or incomplete forms and didn’t understand the procedures. Of course, this caused many delays. So the Quebec Justice System came out with a list of documents that were required for each type of procedure, as well as information about the court process. I used these guidelines and produced the appropriate paperwork, but they didn’t help me much in winning my case because my problem was rooted in having limited knowledge of the types of games played in divorce court and how to knock them down.
I based my case on information found on the Internet and by talking to people who had experienced divorce courts. Yet it wasn’t enough. In my opinion, it is highly unfair that one party has a lawyer who knows all the ins and outs of the laws and the judges, while the person representing him or herself is just a parent fighting for their life and for their children’s present and future well-being. There is something fundamentally wrong with this, especially since people’s lives are at stake and their future is being determined by an outside party.
Let’s make an assumption that you simply do not have the funds to hire a lawyer to begin with. Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about how expensive lawyers can be and you refuse to go this route. I don’t blame you. Accumulating this kind of debt will affect you for years. It will take a toll on your lifestyle, your emotions and cause you constant worry and sleepless nights worrying about how you will pay it back. It’s a horrific situation to be in. Based on the people I know, an average of $30,000 is being spent on settlements outside of court, while about $70,000 is spent when going through divorce courts. I have even heard of people spending up to $200,000 on legal fees. As far as I am concerned, this is insane.
For whatever reason, let’s assume you decide to represent yourself. You believe that you know your reality and are capable of putting together a solid case. Sadly, as much as you know the reality of your situation, divorce courts don’t look at your true reality. You have to see the courthouse as a game of chance, risk, if you will. This game is best played when you are very well-educated with the law and its loopholes. How many parents know all the ins and outs of the justice system? Not many.
Overall, I personally do not feel confident that representing yourself is a good idea—I see too many hidden agendas, and your trauma can eat at your logical thinking and any possibility of careful and quick analysis and response.
Divorce Courts and the Associated Costs
Going to divorce court is for very wealthy people who have tons of money to throw away, and for people who love debt and want to be vampires by sucking the life blood from their opponents. I believe the court system is alive and thriving in order to keep lawyers in the workforce. In nasty divorces, it benefits the people who just want to fight and inflict harm on their exes and for those who want to get back at the other parent. This is done to the detriment of the party who has no other way of getting true justice because the other side won’t negotiate, won’t listen to reason and won’t compromise. There is a need for the court system, but it is used far too frequently to support personal agendas.
Preparing for trial in divorce court includes loads of work before the actual court appearance. Here is what to expect:
Consider that your lawyer needs approximately one full nine-hour day of preparation for one day of trial, as a minimum. You also need to account for the following: endless letters, emails and phone calls between the lawyers and, between you and your lawyer, leading up to trial, court fees, subpoenas, your lawyer’s time in court as well as after-trial costs for tying up loose ends and any other miscellaneous expenses. Be aware that it will cost you about 15 to 20 hours of legal fees for that one day of court. Considering your attorney’s hourly rate, do the math.
Is the money you’re spending worth it, knowing there are no guarantees that your desired outcome will be granted by the judge’s decision in court? Or is it better to go through mediation or use the collaborative law system where you have complete control?
Ready for the clincher?
If your ex doesn’t comply with a judgement, there is nothing you can do but go back to court and tell a judge that he is refusing to comply. This means more wasted time, more fees for you to incur, including approximately another 15 to 20 hours of legal bills, more stress and lost days to fight this never-ending battle. You see how our justice system doesn’t work? You have to keep going back to court over and over again. Your ex and his lawyer know this and they thrive on this, especially when they know that you are financially and emotionally drained. This process has given them the right to turn your divorce into an injustice-filled case loaded with their money, power and ego trips. I know many mothers who have given up on courts for this one reason; they know very well that after they leave court and a judgement is rendered, they still have no guarantees.
It is critical for you to know that if your lawyer screws up in or out of court, if he makes a change in direction to your detriment or if he doesn’t follow your instructions, you are still fully responsible for paying his legal fees. Even if he works behind your back without your knowledge or consent and puts you in a worse situation than you were in before, he still gets paid.
Let’s say you are not satisfied with your lawyer’s work. If you don’t pay him, he can get a judgement against you forcing you to pay within a certain amount of days or else interest will begin to accrue. Keep a close eye on your lawyer and don’t be afraid to step up if something feels wrong—and keep those interest fees in mind. You can try to make a complaint with the Barreau du Quebec (the Quebec Bar Association for attorneys) and attempt to point out what was done illegally, but it may bring you to nowhere good. The Barreau du Quebec’s website states that their primary mission is to protect people like you and me against the competence and misconduct of their lawyers. Many people do not believe that is what the Barreau actually does. It would be interesting to see the results of how many clients tried to sue their lawyers for professional misconduct and how many clients actually won their cases. From what I have heard, the Barreau—and any bar association, for that matter—protects its lawyers. They are all friends or have worked together at some point in their career, so good luck getting any justice with them. I see this as an abuse of power and should not be tolerated.
If I were an employee and I were to do something fundamentally wrong, I would be reprimanded by my employer. But if your lawyer makes a big mistake, he is not held accountable. Is that justice?
It’s Not About You
Did you know that when you go to court, you will most likely be told by your lawyer that the court case is not about you, but rather about your children? Have you been told not to talk about yourself in court? To always refer to the children and never yourself? I was, on multiple occasions.
What you may see as the reality of the situation will not hold much bearing in court, even if you spend hours and hours proving your point with extremely detailed stories and witnesses. The judges follow a protocol, and even though you, the mother and main caregiver, may be suffering with the current situation, the judge’s hands are tied. Your suffering, your emotional status and your financial pain is not taken into enough consideration in courts. Going to court is apparently an emotion-free zone. The fact is that if mothers suffer, the children will end up suffering too. Am I right or wrong on this? So why is this not being considered? Why can’t you talk about yourselves?
Do our justice systems not recognize that mothers are not superwomen? Mothers do not hold super powers that would allow them to do everything and be everything to everyone. Do they not see reality versus lies? Do they not see the difference between someone who is in court for personal revenge and someone who is in court with a truthful claim? Or do they just close a blind eye to the truth because the reality sucks and it’s too painful and hard to change it? Why don’t judges have more power to call a spade a spade? I’ve always thought that with the courts’ experience in hearing thousands of these cases, that they could—and should—come up with better rules to protect the true victims.
From what Janes have personally experienced, a judge’s personal opinion doesn’t count for anything when rendering his or her judgement. If judges are seeing this game unfold in front of them—and even if research clearly indicates that stress is the number one killer and divorces are eating at people—why does this not apply to divorce courts?
Why don’t the judges write personal notes in our court files so that the following judge can see the history and patterns? Every time you go to court, you are most likely seen by a different judge. What causes even more anxiety is that you never know if the judge will read your entire file in fine detail in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation. Some files are enormous, and I would suppose it would take them days to read through the history of the case and analyze it carefully. Yet, they apparently only get your file hours before your case commences.
So you start off presenting the case and spend precious time reviewing the history, which is already all documented in the court files. You also spend a ridiculous amount of time writing up your motions and affidavits, which include all the history that has already been presented. And then, once the judge has a good overview of the situation, you start to discuss the real reason you are in court. At this point, you’ve already spent a bundle in legal fees and you haven’t even started presenting your case.
Is it too idealistic to ask that you always be heard by the same judge? If you have one judge assigned to your file, you can eliminate the hassle and the money by not needing to repeat history portraying your ex’s true character to a new judge every single time you walk into a courtroom.
I would also love to see the court system become stricter with repeat offenders. These people are constantly abusing the system by going back to court for the same issues or, better yet, issues that are clearly only stemming from ego, power, money and revenge. They must find a way to stop these repeat offenders. They are not seeking justice, only blood. They normally go around in circles, asking for the same things, often camouflaged in different ways, convincing themselves and the court that they are defending their rights. Someone should be screening the history of the cases to see if there is a repeated pattern and force some form of mediation rather than provide them with a forum to thrive.
In reality, they are merely clogging up the system in order to inflict pain and suffering on their ex. This all stems from anger, frustration, animosity and a loss of control. This should not be allowed in our courts. If it’s deemed to be an emotion-free zone for one party where one is being told not to discuss themselves but to focus on the children, it should also be an emotion-free zone for the other party, which means that they should not be allowed to play the legal system to satisfy their ego and personal agendas.
Parental Authority & Custody
Do you know that every parent has the right to parental authority, which gives him carte blanche to cause you and your children as much stress and anxiety as he pleases? That is our justice system. Even if your ex has been MIA for years, he can reappear one day out of the blue and ask for custody. Even if he is a drug addict or is abusive, he still has rights. Even if you prove that your ex didn’t follow through with the last custodial arrangement and cancelled often or simply never showed up, he still has the right to ask for more custody days. Ironically, he can simply do this because he is the father and has been given infinite rights to stir up everyone’s world. In a perfect world, where divorces do not end up this ugly, this would be idealistic, as fathers should be involved in their children’s upbringing, if they so truly desire and demonstrate their continuous commitment and dedication to be an active parent.
In principle, I have absolutely no issue with a father wanting more custody days. Every child should have the presence of a father and a mother in their life. In reality though, I feel that if history shows that the father doesn’t actually want to commit to the planned schedule and he is just forcing you and your children to go through unnecessary dramas, he must be stopped. Something must be done. Otherwise, the children become his victims. The worst part is that the courts are easily allowing this to happen. Again, it seems to me that reality doesn’t hold any weight in court. How many of you have told the judges that you would very much like the father to be part of your children’s lives and play a more active role, and that however much you would like to believe him, based on his pattern, he is clearly not willing to commit? Rather, that your case was stemming from a hidden agenda. Child custody is a tricky topic, as there are parents who deliberately alienate the other parent in order to make them suffer while others truly want the other parent to be more present but that parent refuses to do so, for a myriad of reasons.
I’ve met more than one such mother who wanted her ex to be more involved. Yet, in one particular case, he had given her the song and dance as to why he couldn’t do so since their separation. From the beginning, she was caring full-time for her children. When they were in court to settle on an arrangement, he then took the opportunity to request a few extra custody days per month starting at a later date. She was good with that. The judge agreed. But ultimately, the ex decided not to take these extra days.
One year later, he went back to court asking for shared custody. The mother was in total shock, as he hadn’t even exercised the extra days from the previous judgment. She showed the court proof that he wasn’t even exercising the last agreement, but to her dismay, his demand was granted.
They got back to their real lives, and now he no longer wanted to exercise those extra custody days that had just been granted to him. She figured it would be a complete waste of time and money to take him back to court. No agreement was signed- it just became the new status quo. Years later, he once again requested joint custody (more than double the amount of days he had currently been taking) and promised the judge that he would be “a better father”. His wish was granted once again, even though the mother had tried to prove that this was nothing more than a power game on his part.
This was the only time that the ex actually followed through with his judgement and exercised his custodial rights. But that too was temporary. Less than six months later, he gave her back the children at full custody with no new signed agreement, and she was back to her past status quo. Years later, at her ex’s request to be more involved in the children’s lives, again, a judge granted him more custody days. Naturally, when they got back to their day-to-day living, he decided the new schedule was not such a great idea. Yet, he never expressed this to the judge. In fact, he showed all intentions to be a more active parent. He kept on a poker face in front of the judge and it worked! Long story short, this went on for years.
What a whirlwind, right? Do you know why this was done repeatedly and is done by so many fathers? For one, to lower their child support payments. You see, when the judge grants them more custody days, their child support payments are automatically lowered. When the father in our story above would not stick to the judgement, the mother would have no choice but to go back to court for yet another judgement to increase child support payments to reflect this new reality. His advantage was that he knew that she could not afford to go back to court and spend another fortune to get this amount re-adjusted by a judge. It wasn’t worth it, as it would cost her more in legal fees than what she would receive in child support. She screamed, yelled and pleaded, but nothing came of it. And for her ex to voluntarily make this adjustment would go against his main purpose—to make her suffer.
Sadly, he succeeded with the help of the Quebec divorce courts. Many children and mothers have been played for fools for years with this constant see-sawing. No judge saw it for what it was. It is a nasty game that fathers play to show the mothers that they are boss, that they can and will use all of their power to win whatever they want, whenever they want. See the irony here? It has nothing to do with true reality—this is a ploy that is imposed on mothers and their children in order to make them bleed and suffer. There should be no place for this in courts. It breaks my heart to tell you that this scenario is all too common.
On an emotional level, this stress is a killer—not only are you feeling for your children whose lives are being ripped apart and whose childhoods are being stolen from them, but you have to keep figuring out how to deal and manage with your ever-changing reality. There is never any peace and zero accountability. It’s about survival mode. It’s about mothers having to be so strong and powerful and get through the traumas and succeed at life. Why? Because you have children whom you love more than anything in this world, and you would jump into a volcano if you had to in order to protect them.
One way to predict what your ex will do and not do is by truly understanding who he is and trying to ascertain if there is any possibility he is a narcissist; that is, a man with a severe psychological illness. I am certain that there are many people who are dealing with narcissistic ex-husbands. It is critical that you know who your opponent is so that you know how to play your cards. To fight this one, you need a whole new fresh deck.
Judges should highly consider all types of personality disorders in order to have a full understanding of who is standing in front of them, especially in repeat offenders. Narcissism is one such disorder that requires greater recognition in the courts. It would help solve many cases before they reach the exaggerated level.
Here is one article I feel inclined to share with you, written by William E. Krill, a member of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and a Licensed Professional Counselor:
A. The Problem
One would think that those highly experienced in law (attorneys and judges) would have what it takes to easily recognize deception, or at least know how to ensure that a person is examined thoroughly enough to make reasonably sure that they are telling the truth. But those in law are just as vulnerable to the highly skilled narcissist as the average person is. As a clinical counselor in the field for over thirty years, this author has had his fair share of run-ins with individuals who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and has been duped by them several times.
NPD individuals are especially pernicious in child custody cases. And there are a large number of children caught in the inevitable, torturous, and abusive trap that NPD parents place their kids in when the NPD parent continues to harass their ex via custody issues. The general public has little knowledge and insight in general about NPD, and those who sit on the bench likely have only a bit more than the public. Though virtually all judges have dealt with NPD’s, many judges may not know the difficult person before their bench in custody court is an NPD, and most judges do not understand the disorder well enough to make effective interventions to curtail the abuses that the NPD perpetrates on everyone in their life, including those involved in the court.
Because NPD’s are naturally talented imposters, charmers, and deceivers, many judges get duped on a routine basis by NPD parents, who are simply using the court and the judge to continue to humiliate, exert control, and abuse their ex, and force their ex to react to them in some way. Narcissists live to manipulate and control others emotions, self-esteem, and behaviors. Many will describe the ‘high’ they get from manipulating others successfully, and if they get the judge to believe them, they will begin to brag that the judge is their ‘ personal friend’.
All attorneys, and especially judges, need to first recognize, understand, and then learn effective means to deal with the mental health disorder classification of ‘personality disorders’, and in particular, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as it is often completely missed by many professionals. NPD is often overshadowed and missed by judges and lawyers due to the more obvious personality disorders such as Anti-Social Personality disorder, which is ubiquitous to the criminal populations.
B. Why They Get Away With It
NPD’s get away with what they get away with because they are so very talented at presenting themselves as innocent victims of their ex, their boss, their parents, etc. etc. They have an uncanny talent to manipulate situations and people and to twist the obvious facts fit their confabulated premise. They can eat your lunch when you turn around and when you turn back, convince you that you ate it! This author has witnessed many conscience-less narcissists in family court deftly ‘con’ lawyers, child protection workers, counselors, and judges, right in the courtroom.
Part of the problem is that in the context of family court or custody court, a judge may not be thinking in terms of a parent as being so cold, calculating, and valueless as to be using their children as a means to harm their ex, or if the judge get a hint of such tactics, continues to believe that these often extremely harmful and emotionally abusive parents still have a right to continue to have ‘a relationship’ with their child; freeing the NPD parent to continue to perpetrate their abuse on the child and the child’s healthier parent.
NPD’s are so grandiose that they will try to use their deceptive, manipulative tactics with virtually everyone and anyone, even the court. They have a special talent to ‘size up’ situations and people involved to very quickly devise a plan to get their way. Judges, that’s why you will see the shocked look on the other parent’s face, and their weeping when you hand the kids back to the narcissist; that parent knows you have been conned and they have yet again been abused by the narcissist, with your stamp of approval.
The NPD parent coming to court repeatedly and contentiously over child custody can be recognized by several other characteristics:
The NPD will bring a plethora of legal actions that barely make sense or are fully nonsense. They will often burn through attorneys. They will have a history of multiple PFA’s against them. If they are male (and most are), they may have multiple custody issues with multiple women. They will have police complaints for harassment of the ex, the ex’s new partner, the ex’s family members, and often complaints from the children’s school about the NPD parent harassing the school in some way. They may also seek to interfere with their ex’s employment, have vitriolic spewings on social media about their ex, may literally stalk their ex, harass them via phone and text, and have made at least one if not multiple reports to child protection about their ex that turn out unfounded. In their legal complaints, they make ‘mountains out of molehills’, and may press the court to ‘legislate relationship’ between themselves and their children.
The place for a judge to take keen interest is the space between how the NPD presents themselves; the things they claim, and their genuine behaviors. There is often a dramatic and clear mismatch. They will ignore and not even see a child for months or years, and then bring a harassing case to gain time with the child. They will promise the world to the child and consistently let them down, they will demand half custody and then leave the child during their turn with their grandparent and go to the bar. They will manipulate their ex to give them more time with the child, will be late to arrive (if at all) to pick up the child, and very often be late returning the child. They will have non-relatives pick up the child or deliver them back to the other parent. They also often discipline with extraordinary harshness, and say that they have to do this because the other parent is too lax.
They are often very cognizant of the legal rules of custody, and will re-enter a child’s life at the very last moment legally possible so that they can maintain their harassment. NPD parents will have a constant and well-rehearsed litany of complaints about their ex, but will usually never admit to any fault of their own, even having plausible explanations of why they had no contact with the child for so long. If fact checked, these excuses are seen for what they are: very thin to totally false. In general, there will be a clear and persistent pattern of the NPD parent having a ready excuse or someone to blame for everything. They will, in public, appear to be the perfect parent, but in private, be making the child’s life a living hell. (Think Mommy Dearest).
The NPD ‘ace in the hole’ is making the accusation of ‘parental alienation’ towards their ex. All lawyers and judges need to know that there is no such diagnosis in the Diagnostic Statistics Manual, the reference for diagnosis of mental health and behavioral health that professionals in the mental health field use. On the contrary, it is fairly well accepted in the field that those who are in close relationship with an NPD can develop genuine mental health disorders, including adjustment disorder, depression, anxiety, and especially, post-traumatic stress disorder. The latter can often be seen to be sourced in the behaviors and physical, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes sexual abuses that the NPD has perpetrated against the ex and the child.
D. Damages to the Child
In human development, the child-parent bond can be extremely strong. If a healthy relationship and bond has developed, there is not much that will keep a child from their parent. Not even one parent trying to ‘brainwash’ a child against the other parent is very credible at all as a possibility involving a child declining to have contact with a parent. The real truth is that the parent complaining about ‘parental alienation’ is usually the NPD, and is the one who has done the most to alienate the child from themselves, not the other parent doing the alienating. So, when a child is refusing to have contact with the NPD parent, and the other parent is taken to court to blame for this, it is a true ‘red herring’. A close look at the child’s complaints will reveal the truth.
Placing a child on the witness stand (in front of the NPD parent, of course), plays right into the hands of the delighted NPD. Most people not versed in this disorder have no clue of how clever, powerful, and abusive an NPD parent is, and how absolutely terrified the child is and how totally under the NPD’s control they are. All the NPD has to do is look at the child, and the child will ‘fold’ under any questions, agreeing with the NPD’s version of things.
Essentially, in comparison to the power of the NPD parent, the child has no confidence at all that the court has their (the child’s) interest or safety at heart, or that the court even remotely has the ability to protect them from the NPD. In truth, to the child (and the ex), the NPD has the power of God. Really.
The level of psychological abuse, manipulation, true brainwashing, terrorizing, demoralizing, self-esteem destroying that an NPD parent does to their child is hard to wrap your head around. NPD’s seem to be born with the skills of the best torturer imaginable. There is no polite way to put it: when a court insists that a resisting child have contact with the NPD, the court is participating in child abuse. Kids are not property to be divided, and they have brains. If a child is refusing to have contact with a parent, look very closely at that parent.
E. What Judges Could Be Doing
Once ‘caught on to’, NPD’s, given enough rope, tend to hang themselves with their own errors. They make these errors under the pressure of being seen for what they are: pathological liars and egotists who really do not care at all about the child, only caring about ‘winning’, including fooling the judge. Their arrogance, emotional liability, grandiosity, contempt for others, absurdity, and perjury will be readily apparent.
The court can order both parents into counseling towards the goal of effective co-parenting. Once a custody order is made, the court can monitor the compliance of both parents. This is where the rubber hits the road, and where the NPD parent will begin to mess up, big time. They just cannot comply with any authority other than their own self-inflated opinions and will.
In most cases, if they comply at all with the counseling (many do not even make it to one session), it only takes a short time before they will discredit the counselor, petition the court for some other counselor, and just stop showing up. What they really want is a counselor that cannot ‘see through them’ and find one that they can manipulate for their own purposes, meaning supporting their position that their ex is persecuting them. Judges also could order both parents to go through a psychological evaluation. If the judge does this, they should insist that a special psychological test, called an ‘MMPI’ be done on both parents. This highly valid and reliable test will pick up the truth about NPD in an individual if it is present. Once a judge understands the mental health disorder present and functional in the custody issues, they can make far wiser decisions regarding custody for the child’s best interest.
It is my understanding that under some circumstances, a judge can speak with children in chambers and out of the line of sight from the parent(s). The judge should consider doing this, and if the judge is a parent themselves, and approach the kids that way, the judge will get a fine understanding of just why the child does not want contact with the NPD parent. Or, a judge could request a ‘course of treatment’ statement from the child’s counselor to clarify why the child does not want contact with the NPD parent. It is never advisable to call the counselor into court to testify, as this compromises the therapeutic alliance between the child and their counselor in ongoing treatment.
Those in the legal system will do well to learn more about NPD parents in custody situations, as not only are the child and non-NPD parent harmed, but dockets get clogged with cases by NPD’s that are frivolous, time consuming, and costly.
William E. Krill. 2014. . [ONLINE] Available at:
W.E. Krill Jr. L.P.C., Gentling.org, Bandbseminars.com
By recognizing the signs of narcissism, judges will be able to render judgements that are more reflective of the reality of a mother dealing with an ex-husband with this disorder, not least of all with regards to custody cases. This would be a tremendous leap forward in putting the well-being of the children first—a concept that gets a lot of talk but is rarely practised.
My Solutions to the Existing Justice System
Child Support & Children’s Extra Expenses:
Do you know how many mothers go years without even a penny in child support? In the USA and in some other countries, there is a debtor’s prison—if a parent does not pay child support, he or she can go to jail. In Canada, we have no such thing. Do you think that anyone in the Canadian justice system has ever looked into this to see how many fathers are actually fulfilling their obligation to pay child support? I would bet that answer is no and that the numbers are astounding!
In Canada, child support is mandatory. The amount of child support received is based on a formula that is pre-determined by the government. To simplify the details, it is based on a calculation of your ex’s declared income and yours, along with the number of days per year that your ex takes the children. It’s a pretty clear-cut calculation.
There are two ways you can collect these payments: either your ex gives you monthly cheques and you hope and pray they don’t bounce, or he doesn’t stop payments. Or, if your ex is an employee, the department that acts to facilitate the payment of support at Revenue Quebec (the Quebec government) can get involved by making an arrangement with your ex’s employer to collect the payments in full and on time. Before he receives any paycheques, his employer deducts the amount of child support payments and remits it to Revenue Quebec. In turn, Revenue Quebec issues you bi-monthly payments. This option provides you with peace of mind and gives you one less reason to fight with him.
You all got used to a certain quality of life, pre-divorce. Even though you wish to maintain this, your legal fees may make this impossible. The children’s extra expenses include private school, extra-curricular activities, sports, dentists, school trips and such. They should not be denied any of these but they are, because their fathers can get away with it.
Many fathers refuse to pay these extra expenses. They find every excuse in the book as to why they can’t afford them. Some may even go as far as not giving their permission for their children to be involved in an activity so that they will never be held responsible for the payments. Again, your children lose. Since Revenue Quebec does not get involved in collecting these amounts, mothers stand alone to fight this battle.
How many fathers have you heard of that live lavish lifestyles? When some particular ones don’t care for the children often, they can focus their attention on their careers. Higher incomes mean they have more spending money at the end of the month. More free time can mean more fun times. And it can also be that your ex spends more than he earns just to camouflage his depression and loneliness. Regardless of the reasons, your children end up getting less of what they need so that your ex can have more of what he doesn’t need.
Have you ever looked at your ex’s monthly spending habits? This is a great exercise, a real eye opener. How much does he spend on his car(s), his vacations, his apartment/house? How about those astronomical restaurant bills? Your ex can spend more monthly on himself alone than you spend monthly for you and your children. And he will find all justification for it.
Let’s say you are asking the courts to grant you permission to send the children to a better school, perhaps a private school. The father can refuse this expense claiming that he can’t afford it and that he is already loaded with debts. No one will look at why he can’t afford it and where his debts come from. No one will ask how he can afford a lawyer but not private school. It’s just an empty claim that is being made in courts without any backup proof required. No one cares if he overspends on himself and, as a result, underspends on his children. And if you want to prove it, it may cost you more in legal fees than you will ever get from him, so, more often than not, there is no point in taking this route.
My solution is rather simple, yet extremely effective. If a father can find the financial resources to live a lavish lifestyle and spend a bundle on an expensive lawyer and constant court trials, I believe he can find the money to financially support his children with their needs and special expenses. In my opinion, this should become law. I see it working something like this: if your ex asks for a court date, he has to first prove that he has been consistently paying for the children’s basic needs over the last twelve months—this includes child support payments in addition to the children’s school fees and extra-curricular activities. If he proves he has made his payments and can put a guarantee on future payments over the next twelve months, then he would be permitted to get a court date. Otherwise, he should be denied a date. Why should his lawyer get all the money that should be going to the children? Why should the children be denied attending a private school or joining a sports team so that the father can continue to vindictively play the legal system? This must be stopped.
Collection… a living nightmare:
How do you enforce collection if no one is backing you up?
If you and your ex cannot agree on a custody schedule and child support, you need to see a judge. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the problem is that this venture can most likely cost you more than you will ever get in child support. Remember, zero guarantees during the case and after the rendered judgement. Remember the calculation I gave you earlier of approximately 15 to 20 hours of legal fees per day in court? This is the most significant reason why many mothers give up on child support. This comes with huge consequences. Another reason is some mothers have even been threatened by their exes that if they were to take the fathers to court to ask for an increase in child support, the fathers would, in turn, ask for more custody in order to wreak havoc. Even though you go to court to ask for one thing, it does not stop your ex from bringing up other issues and tying it into the case. Of course, the mothers know what kind of problems this will lead to, so they ultimately stop.
Now, let’s say you have had enough of not receiving any money from your ex and you have had to assume 100 percent of the expenses for years. Your debts are piling up and you are paying ridiculous interest month after month on your credit cards. You’ve asked him, begged him, been fair with him, given him time to heal and to find his bearings—yet no money is coming. You absolutely want and need child support and decide to go to court. You have now committed to spending ridiculous legal fees. The judge offers you child support from that point on and declares that your ex has to pay arrears for all those months that he neglected to pay over a specified period of time. (Arrears are basically monies that should have been paid to you to begin with and are now way overdue.)
Now you’re ecstatic and feeling like justice has been served. You’re rolling ideas in your head about what you can offer your children now, and how you can breathe again. But, hold on to your excitement …
Revenue Quebec kicks in now. Ready for it?
Do you recall when I told you that when a judge deems that you owe money to your lawyer, you are given a certain amount of days to pay or else interest accrues. Well, when a judge orders your ex to pay you arrears, no interest will be considered. It’s dead money. So if you racked up debt over the time and paid ridiculous interest just to stay afloat while your ex’s payments were MIA, you will never see that interest money from your ex, even if it was deemed that he should have paid you from day one. Even though you would have loved to see a judge earlier and stop the interest from accruing, your hands were tied, as you had to wait twelve months to have the opportunity to appear in front of a judge. To add insult to injury, you won’t necessarily get a lump sum. You will learn that between your ex’s child support and arrear payments, Revenue Quebec can only collect a certain amount from his monthly salary. So it may take months or even years to get paid back. If your ex has no assets and there is nothing they can seize, there is nothing you can do. You have to sit and wait and wait and wait. Chances are, his lawyer will be paid way before you ever see the full payment. Where is the logic here?
At any point after the judgement, it’s often common for your ex to quit his job simply to make you wait to get paid back. You just paid a hefty price for justice and he decides to voluntarily become unemployed. This is just another wonderful tactic of some of these fathers, thanks to the loopholes in our justice system. Later on, if he accepts a new job and doesn’t tell you where he is working or how much he is earning, there is nothing more you can do but take him back to court to force him to share that information with you and reinstate child support.
So you see the revolving pattern now? You ask for money. He says no. You wait a while and ask again. He still stays no. You go to court. You get a judgement. You’re happy! He says no again. And you’re back to square one.
Want to be shocked again? Your ex can even tell Revenue Quebec that if they take the maximum from his monthly salary to pay for the arrears, he will quit his job. And nothing will happen to him. Even if he gives Revenue Quebec a heads up, they cannot stop him or enforce the payments any faster or any more efficiently. Their hands are also tied.
The best way to deal with these sorts of offenders is that we set up a better system. Make the fathers responsible for the monies that are due. Make them realize that they cannot get away with not paying. It must be understood that child support is an obligation, not a choice, and that it trumps materialistic items or legal fees.
I strongly believe that Revenue Quebec should play a more active role in collections. We have the set-up for it. They have access to our social insurance numbers (SINs) and have the capability to look up where we work and how much we earn and base all calculations on our income tax declarations, without us having to ask a judge to step in. If your ex decides to quit his job, as soon as he takes a new job, his SIN gets flagged as being used and his new employer must submit your ex’s job contract. Now Revenue Quebec will have all details about his income, bonuses and expenses, and can start collections and arrears payments without delay. Poof! There goes the need to go to court.
More importantly, another issue will be solved regarding adjustments to child support. When your ex gets a raise, your children should benefit from it as well. Right now, they don’t, unless you go to court and ask a judge to rectify this issue. Once Revenue Quebec has access to everyone’s SINs, it can detect if someone’s income has changed (whether higher or lower), and can automatically adjust the child support based on this new information.
In both cases, the problems are solved within a few hours. Revenue Quebec can start collecting accurate amounts and you don’t once again have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars going to court. This would help unclog the courthouses.
My Message to the Justice System
A Canadian government website, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), notes the following under Indicators of Well-Being in Family Life-Divorce: “While it may be the best choice under the circumstances, divorce can have a negative impact on the financial, social, psychological, and physical well-being of the couple divorcing and their children.”
So, Quebec Justice System, if you know this already, it’s time to change. There is a dire need for a better legal system.
Has anyone in the justice system stopped to think that perhaps single mothers cannot and do not want to handle all of this? Has anyone in the justice system looked at the statistics to see how many of us end up getting sick, worn out and afflicted with illness?
No mother wants a life where all she does is fight fires and struggle to survive. She wants to live, flourish and raise her children. Are you willing to help? The time has come to act on helping parents more than the attorneys.
I have made my case how and why our current justice system is lagging, ineffective and outdated. The system consists of loopholes that are being taken advantage of on a daily basis and causing misery to thousands upon thousands of innocent, hard-working people. Our system does not protect our fragile children. Our system feeds lawyers and turns women into poor mothers on so many levels. Why should our system only suit lawyers and their deep desire to make fortunes from people in despair?
Single mothers do not want to be superwomen. They don’t have the strength for it. They have no desire for it. They never asked for it, so please don’t expect them to become something they are not physically and emotionally capable of being for the rest of their lives. They were not created to be everything to everyone. Mothers may be strong, they may have vision, they may have determination, but they do not have super powers. Mothers desperately need your help.
Our fragile children are the future. If the children are raised in this kind of unhealthy environment, what will become of them when they become adults? We will end up with citizens who have a high risk of depression, suicide will be on the rise and our children will have a hard time doing anything of significance in their lives. Our future leaders will be all screwed up. With a divorce rate of just under 50 percent in Quebec, what will we do in a decade or two when our province is filled with people who have suffered their whole lives and had no proper therapy? What about when they become teenagers? What kind of issues will we have? Will they marry or stay single out of pure fear of not falling into their parents’ footsteps?
More importantly, our children should be offered a better life, better education and a more stable environment. Isn’t that the point of bringing children into this world? Are children not entitled to be sheltered from our exes’ power and ego wars rather than be victimized? Or should we instead, shove this one under the rug and only deal with it when we see years later, down the line, that these children who grew up in this environment are refusing to bear their own children.
Do you know that many young adults are now petrified at the thought of marriage because they know how ugly divorces can be and refuse to expose themselves to this? And rightfully so, since we are not setting a good example of the outcome if the marriage fails.
Do you know how many people refuse to re-marry? All they think about is how much money they can lose again if that second marriage fails. And, worse off, the main income earner is petrified that if this marriage also fails, he/she will have to pay additional child support and or alimony. They are not willing to take chances. Sadly, that is what it has boiled down to. So many people are completely confused and doubtful as to whether blending a family is even an option for them.
The effects of our current laws are enormous.
Together, we must adopt a system that does not allow for inhumane shark lawyers to thrive. We must enforce stronger sanctions on questionable work and legal ethics. We don’t need more drama, we need justice to equate reality, the true status quo!
Imagine the total amount of disposable income that is being invested in wasteful legal battles instead of supporting our economy. This is a society that is living in debt in order to protect themselves and their children. This makes no sense at all.
Finally, let’s talk about the consequences that this crippling debt causes parents. Needless to say, anyone who has gone through a nasty divorce can attest what this means to your pocketbooks. Essentially, these are monies you will never get back, debts that will haunt you for years and an economy that will struggle to thrive. Mothers are also emotionally scarred and left with a feeling of animosity towards the divorce including the sagas, the outcomes, the debts and a justice system that failed them miserably.
Have you thought about how women suffer through sleepless nights, wondering how they will make ends meet tomorrow and thinking about how long it will take to pay off the debts? What the children are losing in the meantime, how much interest will be paid in their lifetimes and how they could ever save for your retirement? With no savings and no investments, Quebec government, do you really want to wait until all of the divorced parents are retired, on welfare and dirt poor in order for you to realize that we are in crisis mode? We should be building our financial portfolios post-divorce, rather than all claim bankruptcy.
Is the Quebec government putting money aside to financially bail us all out at our retirements? Because this is the new reality. Let’s work together to find a way to avoid this future crisis.
We are broke and broken!!
Healing from a Nasty Divorce
Copyright © 2016 Ravit Rose™. All Rights Reserved.
You and Your Ex:
The Changes and the Healing
Your relationship with your ex will likely constantly change throughout the years. There will be moments when you feel hopeful and relaxed and see the light at the end of the tunnel and then, poof! A temporary moment of insanity (by you or your ex) will change it all for the worst. And the sagas continue.
Although you may keep hoping and praying that your relationship will stay stable and amicable, the process is very difficult and requires full commitment from both parties on a regular basis. Remember, it takes two to tango.
It will also require that neither one of you feels taken advantage of or cheated by a bad deal—and this is very unlikely, considering the way our justice system works, especially when you’ve dealt with an inhumane shark lawyer and have been exposed to painful litigation processes.
I spent so much time on healing myself from the effects of my divorce. My personal development was key to my survival. I had a deep ambition to energize my life once I got my bearings after the long-battled divorce agreement was signed.
I started the healing process. Even though I couldn’t see the whole picture in front of me, I believed I had to set my goals for the future I wanted and deserved.
I did so much work to help myself grow.
I wanted to carve a path to positivity and prove that continuing to be a delusional optimist would actually lead me to great results. I wanted a better ending to my divorce.
I felt I was finally healed, until nearly five years after getting divorced, a very wise friend said to me, “Ravit, it’s time you divorce your ex.”
Say what? What do you mean? I couldn’t understand what he was talking about because I thought I had done that.
Throughout my healing process, I was repeatedly told to disassociate myself from my ex by cutting the cords that bind us. That meant to eliminate whatever it was that was still holding us together as a unit.
I didn’t realize this, but we continued to act and fight like a married couple. The fights needed a new ending —one of ex-husband and ex-wife. I needed to realize that the “don’t go to bed angry” philosophy no longer applied to us. This happens to many of us. Instead, we hold grudges. We think extremely negative thoughts about the other person. We create stories in our heads, thereby allowing the constant sagas back into our lives. You need to fully detach yourself from your ex. Some people may consider you to be aloof when you become this detached, but you will know that you’re doing this for the sake of your own sanity.
How many of you have not heard of exes who love to stir up drama just to take the opportunity to let it all out on you? These exes feel they have the right to do so when they’re having a bad day or simply a bad moment. And they will continue until you cave into their demands. Worst of all, if you don’t let them get their way, they may end up giving you the infamous line: “I’ll see you in court”. It’s called: Piss me off and I’ll show you who’s the boss.
You must pay special attention that the insults and disrespectful comments thrown at you by your ex may just be a reflection of how he was feeling at that moment and has nothing to do with you. So don’t own it. Don’t make it your problem. It may just so happen that you were at the wrong place at the wrong time and, unfortunately, were an easy target.
My solution to all of this was that I got to know myself better; I was able to distinguish between my pain and his pain. I also knew that he wouldn’t listen to anything I would say anyhow. So I stopped saying anything at all. I no longer justified anything. I no longer tried to shed some light on the consequences of his actions. I learned to have less expectations of him. This new thinking made me feel more at ease and at peace. It may work for you, too.
The endless hate and blaming text messages and emails had to come to an end as they only fuelled the feud. However easy it was to succumb to the heat of the moment and attack back, I saw that such action was not a good long-term solution. It only led to more pain and suffering. I had had enough of suffering. So I tried to hold myself back. Truthfully, I had enough on my plate that I didn’t need to add another reason to be angry that day.
Custody, child support and payments for the children’s special expenses were the only discussions I was willing to have with him. No more re-hashing the past and no more personal attacks. I decided to save my power and my strength for myself and my boys because that’s what I needed to focus on the most. I was dedicated to change this old pattern of my life.
To get to this point took me years of highs and lows. It took repeated events that stabbed at my heart and emotions in order for me to realize that change was no longer an option; rather, it was a must. It also took too many trips to the doctor and hospital to be repeatedly told that stress was eating at my health.
I had lost precious years of my life on nonsense—until I woke up one morning and hated where I was at and what had become of me.
Am I totally healed? I think I’m nearly there. I’m doing significantly better, however, I still ache for more. I know for certain that I’m in a much better place. I am extremely excited to continue growing. I believe that my investment in my healing was and is the best gift I could have given to myself and to my children. Only good can come out of changing bad habits and eliminating stressful situations.
Individual Therapy, Group Therapy
With the help of a wonderful early child educator with a load of experience in co-parenting and my sort-of-shrink, for a short time I was able to talk and cry out my frustrations. She helped me learn to accept my new life and, more importantly, to try and make sense of the chaos I was consistently facing. However, as great as it was, her guidance wasn’t enough for me. I was hungry for more help. I desperately needed more support. I had no idea what I was doing. I felt lost and confused. I was living in fear of the unknown. I was crying out for clues as to how to go on with my life. If I could have a penny for each tear I shed, I would be a billionaire today.
In addition, I was struggling to survive while raising my little children in the best way I knew how. I was trying to shelter them from harm, but little did I know, I wasn’t doing a great job at that. Through no fault of my own as a mother, my boys suffered tremendously and I didn’t always catch all the clues. It is crystal clear today that if we all received proper therapy and adequate co-parenting tools upon separation, we would have had the opportunity of a better outcome. I also know that many of you don’t have access to this type of help.
I didn’t. I wish I had access to more from the very first day of my separation; mandatory ongoing government programs, workshops, healing seminars or any types of therapy that could have saved me and my children years of incredible frustration, stress and unnecessary drama. Besides one four-hour co-parenting class, there were no—and there still aren’t—mandatory government or all-inclusive private programs dedicated to empower people with the tools to help them move on with their lives. My personal experience with this course left me with a not-so-positive impression. In my case, it was taught by someone who seemed to be a textbook expert and who didn’t know very much about the reality of divorces and the true outcome of taking the nasty route. It was a co-ed class with parents who were at all different levels of their divorces and all had different issues. My teacher was not very fascinating or interactive. She just went through PowerPoint slides and did a few live exercises. I found it to be very basic, quite boring and uninspiring. Needless to say, I felt it was a complete waste of time. Later on, I realized that there was no follow-up after this course, and so no one was actually making any attempts to ensure that the tools taught were being adopted in our daily lives. Do you believe that if we were being followed by someone to ensure that we continue to exercise good decisions, that we would take this matter more seriously or better yet, to catch you when we slip? I do.
A major flaw in our legal system is that people are crying out for help and are not getting it. They come home to a new reality and are left hanging to try and figure it all out on their own. Therapy should play a significant role in divorces—as much as it does in marriage, if not more. I am a firm believer that all separated parents need to undergo individual therapy to learn how to adapt to their post divorce life, learn to grieve properly and overcome their loss of a broken marriage and home. All of you will go through your own set of challenges as soon as you separate. You will all have questions, concerns, fears and anxieties, and must know how to overcome them appropriately so that you do not end up imposing damage on others (including your ex, children and your extended families).
Ideally, you must also learn how to effectively handle your single parent responsibilities. Just as mothers have not been handed a guidebook that details how to be a single mother, fathers usually also have no idea where to begin. It’s only normal. And we blame them for it. However, while mothers are more comfortable walking into this unknown and figuring everything out through trial and error, I have noticed a pattern that fathers choose to ignore/dismiss their responsibilities in order to protect themselves from any harm or fear of failure. Hence, this causes you to fight like cats and dogs. This is why and how co-parenting classes play a critical role where both mother and father learn to work together daily in the best interest of the children. The idea is to aid everyone in becoming an excellent parent in lieu of the new family circumstance. And when the situation between mother and father is not an easy one where co-parenting is possible at this point, parallel parenting would be the ideal solution. How many of you have heard of parallel parenting?
In nasty divorces, there’s always at least one party who’s out to get the other parent, screw them for what they have or don’t have and make them suffer in one way or another. This closes all doors to proper co-parenting, since there is no open and respectful communication. When people are dealing with a difficult divorce, they need a therapist who will challenge them to dig deep and think differently and of all the long-term consequences. People need to hear the ugly truth which becomes their reality, so that they can make informed decisions rather than dedicate themselves to years of animosity and aggression. And all this before the damage is done and has reached the children. You must end these unnecessary dramas. Some of you know very well deep down inside that vengeful behaviour has to come to an end in order for everyone to go on with their lives. The problem is that many people don’t know how to actually do this. The ultimate objective should be that both the mothers and fathers conclude that they have absolutely no choice but to change their ways and be civil with one another for the children’s sake. That is true co-parenting at its core with the objective to avoid a high-conflict divorce. My ex and I have been co-parenting for a little while and I can confirm that our stress has decreased and the peace of mind we get from it is worth all of the effort!
The following are common issues I have heard and the conclusions I have drawn:
If a father, while married, had never taken care of his children on a regular basis without the presence and guidance of the mother, how can he be expected to excel at this without any help, upon divorce? To the fathers I have spoken to, day-to-day parenting is not second nature as it is for mothers. Of course, there are exceptions. Mothers have to acknowledge this as the reality in order to avoid loaded arguments regarding an issue your ex simply does not know how to tackle.
For instance, have you ever heard of a father—or are you dealing with one—who refuses to take his children overnight and to school the following morning? If I told you that it may simply be because he doesn’t know what kind of food to prepare in his children’s lunchboxes, would that lead you to say, “Aha! That makes sense”? What if I told you that he would never share that vulnerable side of himself with you. Could it be that he is terrible at cooking and that the kids make fun of him, or worse, tell him that they don’t like eating dinner at his house? How do you think this makes him feel? He may be terrified. If this sounds like your ex, all he may need are some of your recipes so that he feels confident that the children feel ‘at home and comfortable’ at his place. However ridiculously simple this sounds to some mothers, wouldn’t you rather solve this debate, avoid the unnecessary stress and, instead, enjoy your alone time?
How many disagreements have you heard of or personally experienced regarding the father refusing to spend a week or two with his children? Could it be due to the fact that he is scared that he won’t be able to handle the responsibility of pick-ups, drop-offs, three meals a day, routine sleep schedule and laundry on a day-to-day basis? Could it be that he may feel that he would fail, so he chooses to not accept this responsibility at all?
I met one father who was in this exact situation. He is an amazing dad who loves his children unconditionally. But he was scared of messing up during his two-week vacation with his children and to have his kids describe to their mom the horrible job he did. He wanted his children to be proud of him. This caused him enormous anxiety for weeks prior to the vacation. Once I helped him plan out lunch and dinner menus, he was so much more relieved and relaxed. He was able to confidently go to the grocery store to purchase all required food in order to prepare the meals all by himself, with total success. I also guided him with a sleep routine for his children so that they didn’t keep coming in and out of their rooms until 10 p.m. every night, to the point where he would potentially blow up. Once he had the tools, he was more at ease. But he would have never shown this vulnerable side to his ex or dared to ask her for help.
Sometimes we, mothers, regard things such as fixing lunches or caring for a tummy ache as a piece of cake because it is in our motherly nature to know how to handle these situations. Yet, we get upset when the father doesn’t have this same ability. This can lead you to believe—and tell—your exes that they are useless or nothing more than babysitters. Sadly, many of us are guilty of thinking this way at one time or another. However, this needs to change. It’s not good for anyone to be thinking these thoughts. We need just as much support in learning and grasping the art of being a single mother as fathers need to be coached in their new roles. Often, the issues are small and can be easily corrected.
Mothers may expect the fathers to be someone they are not and to handle parenting in the same way and with the same ease as we do. It is important to understand that this is not realistic for all fathers. Each situation is different, and we need to treat each one of our exes individually. For some fathers, hearing the words “figure it out” is like speaking to them in a foreign language and often ends up in a heated argument. This comment will most likely lead the father to ignore your request in order to protect his ego, and may further lead him to no longer make an effort to try something new or unfamiliar again because the outcome the last time around was a negative one.
Moreover, since there is very little chance that your ex would help prove you right by admitting or exposing his inabilities, it will only end up hurting your children. Do you see now how some of your issues with your ex can be easily corrected?
One Jane I met had a major issue that she could not resolve, and she turned to me for advice. Her children had to stay off certain foods, but her ex refused to follow through with this new diet plan. As a result, her children were coming back home to her with severe stomach aches. Sometimes this led her to having to take days off work to stay home with the children. Her boss was not very accepting of this recurrence. In short, she was livid.
I suggested she email her ex with details: foods to stay away from and the ones to replace them with, and present it in the form of a shopping list. Story-like demands would turn him off. I asked her to keep it short and simple with no emotions. I asked her to also include a list of meal ideas that her children would enjoy eating with those new foods. It was so simple, but it worked! It was all that her ex needed. I am certain that he would have never asked her for advice because he did not want to paint himself as incapable.
Another powerful and necessary healing tool is group therapy for the fathers—where they would have the opportunity to realize that they are not unique or alone—that other dads may have the exact same concerns and that it’s completely normal. All this in an open and safe forum to talk, share, learn and grow. Group therapy would also be greatly beneficial to mothers. The one advantage that we have as women is our natural tendency to gravitate to each other, especially to those that live a similar life as ours. We share our stories and look for advice.
On the other hand, fathers may not want to share their feelings of struggle or what they consider to be failures; they prefer to tough it out on their own. Another problem I find common is that they may not have single dad friends to vent or talk to. In my opinion, this is not good. It forces them to keep everything inside, which only multiplies their anxieties—and this usually ends up biting the mother and the children in the butt.
If only we could hear what the fathers are not saying and took the time to understand the root of these issues, we would all be in a better place. So, rather than fighting our exes to do the impossible, let’s educate them on how to become amazing dads, and help them realize that it is very possible. It’s truly a win-win situation. At the very least, our children will be offered a better environment.
When a mother becomes the main caregiver post-divorce, she also often learns through trial and error how to convert a two-person job into one by balancing daily tasks and responsibilities. These ups and downs come with a dent to her emotional, physical and psychological well-being. It certainly is challenging.
Imagine how much easier it would be if someone was there to point out what to expect post-separation, someone who could guide you in the right direction while you’re involved in a messy divorce, someone who could point out the consequences of actions, including treading carefully around your children and their pain before they arise? Many parents have delusions that as long as you don’t tell your children of any acrimony, they will not know or realize that anything is wrong. This is furthest from the truth.
Imagine if someone was there to offer you suggestions on how to deal with a difficult, if not an impossible, ex. Imagine if someone was to lay out your options on how to properly handle a matter so that the outcome will not come back and haunt you. The consequences of our actions must be laid out for us in order to make informed decisions. Otherwise, we will never get out of legal battles.
Imagine the drastic change if more couples attended co-parenting classes where they would learn to live in harmony and eliminate all the petty little arguments that arise from the difficulty of coordinating two homes and two completely separate schedules?
Imagine the possibilities if parents received simultaneous help. Imagine how much healthier this would also be for the children. How much faster and easier would it be for women to get back into being solid and contributing members of society rather than sitting at home and feeling like crap about themselves and their lives?
If we don’t all change, we are basically messing with the possibility of a healthy relationship with our next significant other. We are going to bring our issues into the next relationship or marriage, and new sagas will start again as we repeat the same old unhealed patterns. We should not be bringing in our past fears and anxiety. Many of us feel that re-marrying a second time is a scary thought. We all have difficulties knowing how to get to that point where we feel secure and confident that we can move on into a blended family. Receiving tools and techniques would certainly ease our worries, concerns and mistakes.
Couple this with an ex who is doing his very best to make sure you fail at your second attempt at building a family. He may not want you to be happy and move on. He may want to hold you hostage. But, if your ex is in a good place mentally and is happy and content in his life, and perhaps even in a committed relationship, chances are he will back off of you. If you are also in a serious relationship, you will have no desire to fight with your ex. Neither one of you may want to rock the boat. You see why we should all heal simultaneously?
Learning how to co-parent in the true best interest of the children, is our key to our surviving this journey. Each party would be made aware of the topics the other side will be learning so that they can get a really clear understanding of the challenges each one will and does experience. If the other side does not know of your struggles, how can they be expected to be empathetic and helpful? With everyone having a plan of action regarding their role in this new family dynamic, peace can be more easily attainable. Isn’t that what we are ultimately all aiming for?
I am so thrilled that you took this journey with me!
I am truly grateful to all the wonderful people with whom I have crossed paths, who were brave to dig deep into their sad stories to help me find the common patterns. Know that your stories will help many other people around the world.
My aim is to shake up the old and bad patterns and start teaching people how to divorce the right way. My biggest wish is that we all come together and build a community. That we all join forces towards a common goal to no longer suffer, but rather, to make changes so that we can all survive the divorce journey. That we do not accept the current status quo, no matter where we live. That we demand change with the governments and force them to start looking at the true victims. I would like to invite you all to participate by sharing your success stories and, your needs, wants and desires so that we can collectively and collaboratively heal, grow and move on. It is important that you provide insights on the laws in your country- with it, you may solve other people’s challenging issues.
The programs and services that I am offering you on my website , focus on the solutions I mentioned in the book as well as others that are required to overcome the pitfalls of your nasty divorce – to make life easier and more peaceful for your entire family. Concrete answers to the how’s and why’s will be provided via workshops and webinars with the help of various experts: social workers, psychologists, coaches, co-parenting specialists, financial advisors, mediation & collaborative law attorneys and more. I am confident that these services will bring you to a better place.
If you feel strongly about this book and its content, and you have a hunger for helping others in your community, please read the “Bring It Home” section of my website. It has been designed for you!
With the power of many, we will make a difference!!
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Ravit Rose™ is a devoted Mom who was making her business dreams come true when her divorce threw her life off track. Her confidence and trailblazing spirit is evident in her keen work ethic and entrepreneurial acumen. She proudly authored Unwanted Nasty Divorces hoping her voice will encourage a chorus of others to engage in a much-needed dialogue in support of families around the world so they know they are not alone. More importantly, she intends to ignite conversations about needless suffering families face because of inconsistencies in the family justice system and how these flaws are failing families far and wide to make way for monumental change. This is the dream that fuels her fire now.
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Praise for Unwanted Nasty Divorces
“We all need guides when we are called upon to navigate uncharted territory. Divorce is very common in our society but also a mystery to most, because every divorce is personal and experiences, except for friends, go unshared. This book will guide you through the myriad of hurdles you will encounter and expose the stupidity, the frustration, the successes and more during and after divorce. This is your guide.”
Murray Sherriffs, Eastern Canada radio personality
Are you ready to change the status quo and live the life you desire? Divorce. We rarely know how and why it turns nasty, but it easily can, leaving you feeling like your life has changed for the worse. Why the perpetual issues with your ex? Why doesn’t the drama end? Why the constant struggles? Will you ever rebuild yourself financially? These are just some of the questions mothers dealing with a nasty divorce must face. Determined to survive the experience and thrive, she connected with hundreds of divorced mothers and found a need for these voices to be heard. Ravit Rose exposes the common patterns as well as the raw truth of divorce, including: • The family law justice system, and why it's not what you expect • How your divorce is affecting those closest to you • How and why you want to divorce the right way • How to kickstart the healing process If you feel like something is holding you back from surviving your divorce journey and you are aching for the answers, these pages provide the insight and inspiration to carve the path that you want for you and your family.