Dealing with or contemplating a divorce or separation? A free-to-attend Zoom event being hosted on April 20 by five Vancouver women (a realtor, a mortgage broker, a child and family therapist, an investment advisor and a family lawyer, with five divorces between them) will empower you with knowledge and tools to navigate the process with grace. We chatted with Tanis Fritz, co-founder of the non-profit The Divorce Circle, which is facilitating the virtual event, as well as lawyer Karen Redmond, about what attendees can expect to gain. —Vita Daily
Tanis Fritz, Co-Founder, The Divorce Circle
Hi Tanis; please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Professionally, I’m a realtor on a mission to guide clients with authenticity and expertise toward decisions about home that enable them to thrive financially and live peacefully. Personally, I am a mother of two teen boys. Successfully divorced and happily remarried. About 10 years ago my own savvy real estate investment (prior to becoming a realtor myself) was the turning point in my difficult divorce journey. It led me toward empowerment and financial independence and I want to share that experience with others.
When and why did you launch The Divorce Circle? Who is it for and what does it entail? What is the structure/cost?
I co-founded The Divorce Circle in 2019 with mortgage broker, Sabeena Bubber. A solid realtor and mortgage broker partnership is a marriage made in heaven; unfortunately, our own marriages were not, and we both had experienced the ups and downs of our own divorces. We both understood first-hand the importance of financial literacy as a crucial element to an empowered separation. Our goal is to provide women who are separating with the information they need to create thriving, independent financial lives on the other side of their marriage and to give them the tools they need to get through the divorce process with grace. Our group of experts hosts free quarterly seminars via Zoom. Women can participate and ask questions, and remain totally anonymous if they choose.
What are some of the common threads you have observed among women going through divorce?
I’ve heard from women who are staying in unhealthy marriages because they don’t understand their finances or rights in family law. There is a lot of shame around money and divorce. The Divorce Circle aims to change that.
In light of that, what do the Divorce Circle seminars cover? What can attendees expect to take away?
Our free, quarterly seminars are conducted via Zoom. Our panel of experts interviews one another to share what women need to know about personal finance, including mortgages and real estate, family law and mental health. We offer our knowledge through a lens of compassion and empowerment. Half of the seminar is dedicated to Q&A. Questions may be submitted anonymously or freely to the group.
What experts are involved, and what does each bring to the table in terms of knowledge, topics covered and support for attendees?
- Child and family therapist, Alyson Jones, is a divorce specialist who helps guide women toward health and fulfillment. Alyson is the clinical director at Alyson Jones & Associates and the author of MORE, a new philosophy for exceptional living.
- Lawyer Karen Redmond of Redmond Family Law is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia teaching family law. Karen has experience in all aspects of family law, understands divorce and separation from the client’s perspective and knows first-hand that every situation is unique and requires careful consideration concerning approach and resolution.
- Carly Monahan CIM®, investment advisor at Odlum Brown Limited, is dedicated to building long-lasting relationships hinged upon trust and confidence while establishing individual investment strategies to meet clients’ meaningful life goals.
- Sabeena Bubber is a mortgage professional with Xeva Mortgage. Sabeena is recognized as one of the top 50 brokers in Canada and is in the Hall of Family. She is an active philanthropist and in addition to co-founding The Divorce Circle, Sabeena started the organization 100 Brokers Who Care.
- Tanis Fritz has earned her place in the MLS Medallion Club, which recognizes the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s top-producing agents. Now a certified negotiation expert, as a creative, service-oriented entrepreneur, Tanis owned a successful marketing communications firm for 15 years before making the move into real estate in 2016.
Why is now a particularly important/opportune time for a support service like The Divorce Circle to exist?
The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on marriages in lockdown. There has been a spike in separations around the world and Canada is not exception. COVID is an amplifier for discord in relationships.
Karen Redmond, Family Lawyer & Panellist, The Divorce Circle
Hi Karen; please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I am a family lawyer and have been practising law since 2004. I’m a graduate of UBC where I got my teaching degree as well as my law degree. I have lived on Bowen Island for 27 years and I am the mother of three daughters, all of whom are attending university.
How and why did you get involved with The Divorce Circle?
I first became involved because I believe it is extremely important to provide valuable information to individuals when they are transitioning through separation and divorce. I believe it’s vital for those contemplating separation to receive legal and financial information, as well as information from financial experts and other professionals from whom they will need advice and guidance during this very stressful time. It is very important to make a wise decision about process before becoming involved in unnecessary and expensive and destructive litigation. The Divorce Circle provides information for those transitioning through separation and divorce so they can prepare themselves and make informed decisions at the beginning of the separation process. This way they can avoid costly and destructive mistakes.
Why would a poor understanding of finances or rights in family law spur some women to remain in unhealthy marriages?
I think a lack of understanding of your legal or financial rights gives rise to fear and anxiety, which can cause some people to stay in relationships that are not healthy.
In light of that, what knowledge/tools do you and the other experts offer through The Divorce Circle events/seminars that can help empower women who find themselves in bad marriages?
The professionals who offer advice through The Divorce Circle help empower women by providing information. We do this in a gender-neutral way because we feel this is a safer environment. If we were to present to a group of men only for example, we would accomplish the same goals by allowing people to ask questions in a setting that is safe and gender neutral. By providing information we empower people to make decisions in the best interests of themselves and their family. I don’t think it’s necessarily about leaving bad marriages. It is more about knowing one’s rights and how to move forward in a way that’s best for them. Sometimes when you provide clients with information, they are able to restructure their marriage in a way that they feel safer and more empowered. We would never counsel anyone to leave a marriage if there was any chance of reconciliation. I want to clarify that The Divorce Circle is not about providing information to women to help them leave bad marriages. The purpose is to provide information to individuals considering separation to allow them to make informed decisions.
If you, as a lawyer, could give just one tip or piece of advice to a woman in an unhealthy marriage, what would it be?
The very first thing that I say to any client, whether it be a man or a woman, if they come to me and tell me that they are in a marriage that is unsatisfactory, is that they should seek out the advice of a mental health professional to engage in counselling with their spouse. That is the most important advice I ever give my clients. I will qualify the statement by saying that I only give advice to clients that I feel are in a position where that type of process would be safe. There are of course other circumstances where safety is an issue and other steps need to be taken that do not involve counselling. The most general advice I give to clients is to gather information before they make any decisions. So meeting with a financial advisor and understanding exactly what you own and you owe is very very good place to start.
Register for the next free Zoom event being hosted by The Divorce Circle here.