There are many things in life that we plan for. We plan for graduation, our first job, our first car, the first home we purchase. We plan for marriage and, perhaps, children. However, most Nova Scotians—most Canadians even—never plan for the end of marriage. We’re especially unprepared for the end of long-term marriages, those that exceed 20 years.
Yet, according to Statistic Canada, divorce in Canada is on the rise and the demographic to experience the highest rate of increase is what is now referred to as the “Grey Divorce”—divorce between couples 55 and over.
In 2011, I decided to become a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. At the time, I’d been meeting many women who were divorced. Not only were their marriages over, these women were very disadvantaged financially following their divorces.
I saw an opportunity to help. The right training would allow me to intervene on behalf of these women before the damage was done. In other words, I could offer pre-divorce financial guidance. This would be much better than picking up the pieces post-divorce.
After 9 months and 3 very stressful (I mean, comprehensive) exams, I received my designation. What I found once I started my certified divorce financial analyst practise is that many people are misinformed about the financial ramifications of divorce. Not only the general public, but professionals as well. We may have the ability to Google everything, but the abundance of information for those in Nova Scotia going through divorce may be extremely daunting. Especially because the Matrimonial Act that applies in one province may not be applicable here in Nova Scotia and vice versa.
Even worse than the confusion brought about by the legal technicalities of divorce, is the emotional strain arising from the end of a 20 or 30 year union. Many people feel ashamed about having to go through a separation and/or divorce, therefore, they never reach out to the right professional.
In early 2012, I decided that in order to really empower women, I would offer not only my own professional input but I would ask for help from other professionals. This is how my collaborative divorce workshop for women was born. I am fortunate that in Nova Scotia there are many communities with great women willing to volunteer their time with this workshop. We are not offering these seminars in order to profit, we’re truly here to support women in Nova Scotia who need concrete advice and empathetic answers to the questions they’re not sure who to ask.
The workshops feature a female family lawyer who has specialized training as a Collaborative lawyer, Kerri Ann Robson from Shubenacadie, N.S. We have a family psychologist, Debra Garland, from Dartmouth, N.S. And myself, Angela Mercier, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst from Dartmouth, N.S. As we do not have any advertising budget, we try to spread the word via social media and through word-of-mouth.
The workshop is designed to educate and empower the women to make informed decisions, some of the topics discussed are the following:
What are my legal rights?
What are my options?
How do I help the kids?
What are the financial factors that are going to change?
Who should get the house?
How do I know my lawyer is right for me?
What do I ask my lawyer?
How do I know when the offer is right for me?
Who should attend these workshops?
-Women thinking of getting a divorce
-women in the middle of negotiating terms
-women struggling to make sense of what is happening to their families
-women wondering how to financially or psychologically restructure their lives
To register contact: firstname.lastname@example.org