Anyone who knows me is probably just as baffled as I am to see me writing about what the experts call “man-woman stuff.” Relationships baffle me. My good ones have felt a lot like luck, and nothing I write on the subject should be construed as advice, or even a clue.
In January, numerous media outlets advised us of “D-Day” (Jan. 8 or thereabouts), which, according to divorce lawyers, is the single biggest annual day for divorce filings. This month, then, another pile of people, maybe even people reading this, are adjusting to fresh ex-hood.
And again, I’ve got nothing. I’ve never been divorced, a happy circumstance I attribute almost entirely to never having married. This is of little use to most people facing a split now. (My friends also seldom thank me for asking them to imagine, just for a moment, what kind of an ex-wife their fiancée would make.)
Happily, a couple of better sources than me present themselves. This month, a new book from a guy named Harvey Brownstone attempts to explain our family court system to separating and divorcing couples — and help them stay out of it as much as possible.
And who is this Brownstone to judge? As it happens, a sitting judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, who has presided over 14 years of family court cases.
In Tug of War: A Judge’s Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court, Brownstone gives an insider’s view of the legal machinery and warns of an overloaded court system where protracted, hurt-fuelled litigation often does more harm than good to everyone involved.
One of many helpful hints from the bench: Never, ever represent yourself.
“The family court system is in crisis with unrepresented people who don’t have a clue what they are doing. They don’t understand that this is not Judge Judy,” Brownstone told the Toronto Star.
Also new on the Canadian split-up scene is ChangingLanes.ca. The website is the creation of communications consultant Michelle Halsey, who encountered a paucity of reliable information and advice during her own separation, and wanted to help others with advice on finances, parenting, and personal stories of divorce and separation.
Discussion forums are categorized by different stages of breakup, from contemplating separation to the blended family. It’s early days yet for the site, but already most participants in the forums seem to be women. Where are the separated and divorced men? Probably still trying to figure out what the hell happened. I know I would be.