HOW TO DIVORCE & NOT WRECK THE KIDS
Watch the full episode online.
How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids takes viewers inside one of life’s most devastating transitions as three Canadian couples, determined to keep the needs of their children first, work through their separations on camera.
The “divorce from hell” stories grab headlines: couples who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying each other and, incidentally, their children. But in this country, there is another reality. Grassroots Canadians are at the heart of a quiet revolution – couples working on “good” divorces, which acknowledge that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of a family. Because research says: separating parents who co-operate can raise children who are as emotionally healthy as kids from intact families.
Lionel and Sally with children Rhys and and Gareth
As filming begins, the split between Sally and Lionel is still fresh and raw. And cooperating will be a challenge for Sally since she didn’t want the marriage to end. Sally and Lionel were married for 17 years and are parents to three boys, from 11 to 4 years old. They agree to a new and controversial process called Collaborative Divorce, because they believe it will help them focus on what’s best for their children. If only anger and bitterness don’t derail the process.
Roland and Carolye were married for 13 years and have two kids. They transitioned out of their marriage into something of a friendship — but that friendship will be tested as Roland seeks 50-50 custody of their children. Carolye and Roland will try to hammer out an agreement without professional help, using a do-it-yourself divorce kit.
Mike and Melissa with their twins.
After five years of marriage and three-year-old twins, Mike and Melissa split shortly after Christmas, the busiest time in the divorce world. They’re each passionate about being there for all the important moments in the children’s lives, even though it’s uncomfortable being in the same room together. When they reach an impasse in their separation negotiations, Mike and Melissa turn to a mediator to break the deadlock.
Three courageous Canadian couples invite you to witness the end of their marriages…as they struggle to overcome their anger and fear and stay focused on How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids.
How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids is produced by Bountiful Films Inc. in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Take a journey every Thursday night as DOC ZONE explores the major stories of our time. Around the corner, around the world, our cameras bring viewers a sweeping panoramic view of what matters most to Canadians.
- How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids: Main
- Dr. Joan Kelly’s Top Ten Ways to Protect Your Kids
- How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce
- Your Interview: Maureen Palmer
- Collaborative Divorce Agreement
- Lionel and Sally’s Vision Statement
- About the Producers
- Discuss this film online
NEW: Information for Kids
Want to help your child understand what’s happening as you separate or divorce?
Take them on a tour of “Changeville,” a pioneering on-line resource for children 6 to 11 – whose families are breaking up.
It’s fun and it’s FREE.
Talk about this film online with other viewers. Visit our discussion board.
The Current interview a couple trying colloborative divorce and the director of How To Divorce and Not Wreck The Kids. Listen to the interview online.
Facts about Divorce in Canada
- According to lawyers in Canada and the U.S., January is the busiest month in the divorce business. And in Britain, January 8th is actually called “D Day” because that’s the day when most divorces are initiated.
- In Canada, one in two unions fails, most before the 14-year mark.
- Only 5 percent of couples actually sit down and tell their children they are separating, and what it will mean to them.
- Women initiate approximately two-thirds of separations and divorces.
- Joint Custody, when there are two loving and interested parents, works best for children.
Problems Divorced Kids Face
- More problems with authority figures, their peers and their parents.
- Two times more likely to develop psychological problems like anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues.
- More marijuana and alcohol use, compared to married family children.
- Lack of parental monitoring.
- Divorced kids drop out of school two to three times the rate of married family children.
For suggestions in avoiding these problems read: Dr. Joan Kelly’s Top Ten Ways To Protect Your Kid’s from the Fallout of a High Conflict Break-up
Find out what a collaborative divorce participation agreement looks like. This is the document couples and their lawyers sign which sets the tone for collaborating, not litigating.
On the night that Sally and Lionel decided they were going to separate, they sat down together and drafted this statement, which became their guide for their own behavior as they worked through their separation. It’s a very good example for other parents.
Download a copy of Dr. Joan Kelly’s Tipsheet and hersuggestions for talking to kids about divorce.
Shared Parenting Calendar Software
Visit our resource section for more links.
About the Producers
Producers, Maureen Palmer and Helen Slinger
Writer/Director/Producer:Maureen Palmer has spent the last eight years in the world of independent documentaries and factual entertainment, after two decades in news and current affairs at CBC Radio and Television. As an independent filmmaker she has produced several documentaries alongside How to Divorce & Not Wreck the Kids producer Helen Slinger for their Vancouver-based company,Bountiful Films including – Leaving Bountiful, Polygamy’s Lost Boys and the Bully’s Mark. Maureen has worked as a story editor, story producer, and series producer for a wide variety of North American broadcasters, including — Making It Big for the Life Network, Glutton For Punishment for the Food Network and The Week the Women Went for CBC. Her work has won several awards, from Bronze and Silver at the New York Festivals, a Jack Webster Award, the B’nai B’rith League of Human Rights Award for Best Documentary, and the Canadian Association of Journalists Award for Best Documentary.
Maureen Palmer & Divorce: Raised in Sudbury, Maureen has lived in Toronto, Edmonton and now Vancouver. She has been divorced for more than a decade. For most of that decade, Maureen flew every 2nd week or so from Vancouver to Edmonton to spend a long weekend in the basement of her old matrimonial home, where she could do the “mom” thing for her two daughters. Ex-husband, journalist Graham Thomson, made many jokes about having the “ex-wife in the basement,” but the reality was: this unorthodox relationship allowed their children to grow up with both parents in their lives as much as possible. Maureen admits to stumbling, making mistakes and acting like an adolescent at times, but her daughters Erin, 27, and Heather, 22, think mistakes were few and far between. They actually suggested this documentary, when they thanked her and their father for allowing them to grow up in a home free of conflict.
Read an interview with Maureen Palmer.
Writer/Producer: Helen Slinger is a master storyteller whose work spans three decades. Recent documentary writer/director credits include the Bully’s Mark, Embracing Bob’s Killer, and Leaving Bountiful. Helen’s written a legion of documentaries for other directors, and is a highly-respected story editor and script doctor. Various projects have won Gemini nominations, Finalist New York festivals, Platinum Award Worldfest Houston, Jury Award Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, selection Montreal World Film Festival, selection Vancouver International Film Festival, selection Girlfest Hawaii, a Gracie Allen (Foundation of American Women In Radio & TV), RTNDA (Radio & Television News Directors) awards, and several Columbus International Film & Television Awards including the Edgar Dale Award for excellence in non-fiction screenwriting .
Helen Slinger & Divorce: Raised in Saskatoon, Helen Slinger has lived in Toronto, Victoria BC and now North Vancouver. She’s been happily divorced for more than 20 years and is the mother of one bio-daughter from that marriage. Since the divorce, Helen and her daughter’s dad have celebrated together every Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday (hers, his, their daughter’s and his son’s from an earlier marriage). Knowing her not to be a saint, Helen’s friends initially thought she was nuts. At the time, this was not a fashionable way to divorce … and, to be clear, the divorce was not all lovey-dovey amicable. So this small c collaborative divorce was an active choice to go against the tide. Today Helen’s daughter and step-son express gratitude for the family that remained after the marriage ended and Helen feels very proud of herself and of her daughter’s dad. Tucked in with the old greetings cards around the house is a Mother’s Day card from her then 14-year-old daughter in which she lists the things she appreciates about Mom. High up on the list: “the way you get along with my dad”.
Producer: Sue Ridout chose the life of an independent producer after twenty award-winning years in network news and current affairs at both CTV and CBC Television. During her tenure as the Executive Producer of News & Current Affairs for CBC Television in Vancouver, her team won more than 100 awards. Now Sue produces and directs documentaries for broadcasters including CBC, CTV, History Channel and Knowledge Network. She has produced two other documentaries for CBC’s Doc Zone series: Embracing Bob’s Killer, about a woman who forgives the man who killed her husband; and Desperately Seeking Doctors, about the lack of family physicians in Canada. Sue uses her considerable management skills to coordinate business affairs on documentaries for other companies, like Bountiful Films.