Help to Deal with a Marriage Breakdown


Ottawa organization offers expertise that will allow you and your kids to pick up the pieces and move forward in a healthy, positive way.

by Pam Dillon

Are these tense times at your place? Are voices rising when the kids are in bed? Are silences or absences echoing uncomfortably at the dinner table? Painful as this reality may be, you are not alone if your marriage has broken down.

In 2008, the last year for which numbers are available from Statistics Canada, there were 70,226 divorces in Canada. Of those, the average marriage lasted nearly 14 years and the average age of people divorcing was about 42 for women and close to 45 for men. *

Yup, the parenting years. Relationships can and sometimes do break down during prime time for families. Always, though, there is a way forward. Whether you want to try and repair your relationship or to end it in a nontoxic way, a unique support system exists in Ottawa to assist you.

It’s called the Separation and Divorce Resource Centre (SDRC). Established for over a decade, it’s a one-stop shop offering the expertise of committed, fee-based professionals, plus a full spectrum of family-based services, from mediation to counseling and financial planning. The help is affordable, accessible and far-reaching. Not only does it deal with practical matters, so you don’t have to wade into costly, sometimes nasty litigation, it also—if you want—gives you permission to learn from this relationship experience, and to understand more about yourself. Ideally, you’ll walk away with the kind of self-awareness that will empower your, improve you life in the future, and benefit your children.

Rest assured the people providing the know-how truly care. As the founder and CEO of SDRC, Diane Valiquette has many years of professional training, but it’s her life knowledge that drives her passion to guide people through this transition. She’s been there, felt that hurt, confusion and frustration. Both as a child and as a spouse, she has experienced the end of a marriage.


Diane Valiquette.

This mother of two understands. So when your suitcase is at the door and your GPS is set for Splitsville, she urges you to address “the elephant in the room.” What happened here? How did you get to this point in life? Why? “Remember that it never is what it is [on the surface]; it’s always some wound from childhood that shows up in your relationships,” she says. “Understand that we all have a relationship blueprint and once you understand that you can stop the cycle.  Knowledge is power.”

First, at SDRC, the finger pointing is put to rest. “We work hard in order that parents stop blaming and stop [the] games that can be played, so they don’t hurt their children in the process,” Diane explains. “The philosophy of the centre is to help separating couples to stop blaming each other, to take responsibility for the demise of their relationship, and to be the best parents they can be even if it means the family is going to be different.”

This help benefits your kids too.

This help benefits your kids too.

As for service provision, there is a focus on respectful collaboration and on relationship wellness. The goal is clear: “We strive to create solutions for families who are renegotiating their family unit,” the SDRC mission states, in part, at

Not only are the tone and intent positive, the approach to addressing marital breakdown allows grownups and kids to heal and move forward. It also ensures kids don’t get lost in the shuffle. “There’s a child and youth therapist who works strictly with children challenged with their parents’ divorce.”

Folks in all sorts of different circumstances seek out SDRC services. They include:

– People who want to have one last chance to work on their relationship before getting a divorce,

– People who want to leave but are afraid,

– People who realize they keep attracting the same partners over and over,

– Step-parents who feel challenged in their roles,

– People who want a roadmap and a plan on how to separate.

Move Forward in a Healthy Way after Marriage Breakdown

Numbers show the centre has made a difference for a lot of local families. In the last 12 years 1,000 mediations have been amicable and healthy. Furthermore, at least 1,500 people have taken the Rebuilding Relationships Workshop that is at the core of SDRC services.

“The Rebuilding Relationships Workshop empowers you. Family Mediation empowers your mutual decision making,” the website explains. You decide what will work best for you and your family.

Via mediation and additional services, paperwork can be completed without red tape and acrimony; details can be sorted out about everything from custody and access to finances and parenting arrangements. There’s less scrambling to get things done. Beyond that though, there’s an opportunity for significant personal growth.


In the realm of self-empowerment, the SDRC approach is as much about beginning a new relationship with yourself as ending one with someone else. When you learn the skills taught through Relationship Rebuilding, you’re less likely to wind up in the same state with someone else in the future. You’re also less likely to set an unhealthy example for your kids.

Diane Valiquette asks a compelling question: How much do you want your kids to never have to go through what you’re going through?

“If you understand what triggers you and what hurts you, then you take responsibility for that and stop blaming others for making you feel a certain way,” she explains. You also “stop giving your garbage and story to your children.”

SDRC addresses the needs of the whole family.

SDRC addresses the needs of the whole family.

There are additional workshops that can also be of help. They include the Standing In Your Power Full-Day Workshop, Parenting During and After Separation, Oh Those Teen Years! – Parenting Your Teen Workshop, The Rebuilding Weekend, The Power of Your Vision and Beyond the Rebuilding.

For details, see, call 613 837-9025 or email For details about SDRC, see, call 613 837-9025 or email The centre is located at 110 Bearbrook Road, #2b.

* Source:

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