As is the custom around the world, the New Year arrived with an explosion of fireworks, though for some, the pyrotechnics signalled the collapse of their relationship and their “happily ever after.”
On Jan. 4, the first working Monday in January – also known as “Divorce Day” for the number of people who think about starting the new year by ending their marriages – Marni Sky and sisters Mara Marcello and Shari Wagman launched Divorce Angels, an online support network offering the services of 150 vetted professionals, as well as promotions, financial savings and a virtual community where users can connect with like-minded Canadians going through a split.
“We’re a confidential service for both women and men, offering legal, financial and social resources. You can peruse the entire site for free and get expert recommendations,” said Sky.
To date, more than 30,000 people have visited the Divorce Angels site, and some 550 have signed up as members.
“The top two statements we hear are ‘I need a lawyer,’ and ‘I need a date!’ The most highly trafficked area of our site is matchmaking,” said Sky.
Ironically, all three founders of Divorce Angels are happily married.
“We don’t advocate for divorce. We believe in marriage, but if you are going through a divorce, we are trying to help you get through that divorce in the easiest way possible. We want you to get to the other side and find happiness again in life. That is the goal of Divorce Angels,” Marcello said.
She and Wagman had a career in real estate, while Sky spent many years in marketing and advertising. Recently, they witnessed a lot of friends in their social circle go through separations within a three-to-four-month period.
“We would get phone calls at 2 a.m. from panic-stricken friends who were not sure what was happening and where they were going – from the one who wanted the divorce to the one who was blindsided by the split. It didn’t matter where they were or how they got to this point. They were all at the same juncture, and there was nothing for them online – no central place and no support,” said Marcello.
Over the past decade, the three women have been informally guiding and helping friends and family off line, connecting them to professionals, supporting them at appointments, helping them settle their finances and choose the right therapists, career counsellors and real estate agents, as well as assisting with child care, makeovers and dating.
“We realized there might be a business here. So we put up a test website last January, posted blogs and promoted it on social media with a survey asking the public to let us know if there was a need for this service. The response was overwhelming,” Wagman recalled.
Friends nicknamed them “The Angels” and they became known as the “go-to gals” for all things divorce.
“This is how Divorce Angels was born,” Sky said.
“We consider ourselves expert connectors. Our website is for anyone contemplating going through, or just starting to come out on the other end, of divorce,” Wagman said.
Divorce Angels boasts that it’s the only one-stop site of its kind.
The “Let’s Talk” section of the site features a blog on divorce issues, polls about common concerns, and forums for users to share thoughts, questions and advice.
The polls asks questions such as, “How long did it take you to have sex after you decided to get divorced?” and “How long did you think about leaving before you actually left?”
The weekly blog provides insight on such issues as “How to Take Charge of Your Financial Future,” “The Impact of Debt on Your Marriage and Family,” and “Finding Your Way.”
“We are ever-evolving, and, as the site gains momentum, we are going to add cultural-specific areas for Jewish gets [religious divorces], as well as adding the proper forms and procedures for the Indian and the Chinese markets,” Sky said.
“Our long-term goals are to scale this [thus far Toronto-centric site] to other major cities in Canada, the United States and beyond.”