This is not the case just emotionally, psychologically and financially. Divorce and separation can also be mentally overwhelming. At least, it was for me. As someone going through the process for the first time, I found that the amount of new information I had to sift through in order to make even slightly intelligent and responsible decisions appeared to be limitless, as was the information’s ubiquitousness. Books, articles, guidelines, government publications, non-profit pamphlets, websites, support groups, classes, videos (and, nowadays, even Twitter) – dealing with everything from how to communicate with my ex-spouse to how to select the right professional for my situation – all seemed lined up on a trail with no end, each one offering information to help me.
With so much information about separation and divorce available, where does a person start? Which resources are the best? Which are trustworthy? Easy to understand? Thorough, without burying you alive with detail? How do you know they aren’t just self-promoting schlock?
Curious about what our distance mediation team members have come up with, after years of working with separating and divorcing couples, I asked them which resources they most commonly recommend to their family clients. Here, in no particular order, are their top picks:
- British Columbia’s Family Justice, Ministry of Attorney General’s, free Parenting After Separation sessions (for B.C. parents and other family members, such as grandparents or guardians, who are dealing with child custody, guardianship, access and support issues) and their handbook “Parenting and Separation: For your child’s future – A Handbook for Parents”
- Constance Ahrons’ books, “The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart” and “We are Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parent’s Divorce”
- Legal Services Society of BC’s family advice lawyers: http://www.lss.bc.ca/legal_aid/familyAdviceLawyers.asp (available, by referral from a family justice counsellor or child support officer, at the Vancouver Justice Access Centre, the Nanaimo Justice Access Centre, the Family Justice Centre in Kelowna, the New Westminster Family Justice Centre, and at courthouses in Kamloops, Prince George, Surrey and Victoria)
- Department of Justice Canada’s Child Support webpage, which includes a link to the handbook, “The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step”
- Mr. Justice Harvey Brownstone’s online videos (you can find a number of these via Google), as well as his book, “The Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court”
- Gary Direnfeld’s website, yoursocialworker.com, with its collection of articles on parenting/family and divorce/separation
- Justice Education Society of BC’s perennially favorite website, Families Change, with information on parental separation and divorce for kids and children
- And, two of my personal favorites: Legal Services Society’s multilingual Family Law website, which includes a fact sheet on mediation; and JP Boyd’s BC Family Law Resource
If you have been feeling overwhelmed or unsure where to start looking for information, I hope our picks will help you get going in the right direction.