The decision to end a marriage can be a turbulent time in your life. It is one of the most crucial decisions that you
can make and one that has consequences for many years to come. If there was infidelity, financial strain, difference
of opinion, difficulties with in-laws or child rearing, or the two of you simple grew apart, you are not alone. Nearly half
of marriages in Canada end up dissolving and the odds of a second or third marriage lasting are significantly less
with each new marriage. You have choices in how you deal with your marriage breakdown and how those choices
will affect your family. There are steps, outlined here, that you can take to minimize the impact on you, your partner
and your children from the painful energy of a marriage breakdown.
Do Not Take Any Drastic Measures
Many couples end a relationship quickly after heated words are exchanged or feelings are hurt. They may assume
that the sooner they get out of a stressful situation the better it is. Itís important to not take any drastic steps,
however, such as quitting your job so you donít have to pay child support or so that your spouse has to pay support
to you. Your income could be imputed as if you were working and you will still need to find a job.
Itís also important not to decide to move out at the spur of the moment. You have no obligation to move out of the
home if your name is on the lease, title, or mortgage. You donít want a lawyer for your spouse to claim that you
abandoned your family by leaving ďvoluntarily.Ē Staying in the home is particularly important if you have minor
children. Sheltering the children from any marital conflict is critical too.
Examine All of Your Options Before Acting
Many couples go through the divorce process unprepared and are often not even on the same page when they begin.
Counselling is an option for consideration, though often one of both partners will refuse the idea or they will only
attend half-heartedly. Having heart to heart discussions or simply spending positive time away on a mini-vacation
together can also help a couple to reconnect. Marriage classes, DVDs, and self-help books can further lead the way
to the compassion and forgiveness needed in a relationship. Unfortunately, these options are commonly given little or
no thought and the idea of rebuilding a life together is out of the question. In order to be certain that this was the right
decision looking back, it is important to think long and hard before proceeding with ending the relationship and to try
everything you can to improve the relationship first.
When one or both partners decide to get a divorce, it is ideal to surround yourself with emotional support from
friends, loved ones, a counsellor, or all of these. It is important not to withdraw into a state of depression and to be
able to face pain, be it your own, your childrenís, your partnerís or friends and family who are affected. You need to
be able to accept sadness and anger, times of insecurity, fear, the unknown, and a change in your finances and
living arrangements too. Your attitude and your partnerís attitude can minimize the impact of a divorce.
If you have minor children, you will need to have a custody and an access schedule worked out with your childrenís
best interests in mind. Your lawyer or a parenting coordinator can provide you with a parenting plan that outlines key
parenting protocols, such as not speaking badly about your partner in front of the children, not putting the children in
the middle of a dispute, not giving them decision-making powers that are not age appropriate for them, and not
introducing a new partner to the children for several months (e.g., six months or a year) once a new relationship has
started. If you and your partner can both agree and abide by the rules that are decided, your children will benefit
When you have a good support system, you will be in a better position to prepare a separation agreement that works
for you, respects your spouseís rights too, divides time with the children fairly, and divides the marital assets
rightfully as well. People who prepare themselves are more likely to have a collaborative divorce. People who are still
angry and have difficulty seeing things from the perspective of another are more likely to fight it out in court.
Learn to Manage Your Finances
It is important to know about the financial aspects of divorce, including what the two of you own together and its
value, what the family income was, what your joint debts are and their value. You need to know where you can afford
to live and how you will budget and manage your expenses. If you have children, you will also want to update your
Will, check your beneficiaries, and ensure that you have enough life insurance to take care of your children into
adulthood. If you will have spousal support responsibilities, you will need to secure these obligations through life
insurance as well.
Consult With a Lawyer That You Trust
Coley, Hennessy, Cassis, Ewasko, you will learn more
about your legal rights and options in separation and
divorce, including how your net family property is divided
and what assets and debts are excluded.
You will learn about when spousal support is warranted
and the amount of child support you are required to pay.
Your divorce lawyer in Edmonton can also discuss with
you any concerns you may have about child custody