Divorce is certainly never easy. It’s unavoidable that divorce will be an emotional, time-consuming, and difficult process. However, there are things you can do to make the process of divorce smoother. You can try to avoid confrontation with your spouse and make sure your children’s interests are protected, among other things mentioned here below.
1. Begin gathering all financial records as soon as possible. When it comes to separation and divorce, all aspects of your financial situation will become an issue. Getting your documents in order sooner can do two things: 1) help speed up negotiating a settlement with your spouse; or 2) get the matter through litigation, if that is required. Hiding or failing to produce documents is problematic; it likely only result in your spouse and his or her lawyer requesting these documents, or obtaining a court order requiring you to produce them. 2. Be willing to accept compromise, even if you do not want to. A failure to compromise is the primary reason why spouses fail to reach a settlement and are forced into expensive litigation. You will not get everything you want in a divorce. In some cases, your spouse may be completely unreasonable and impossible to reach middle ground with. In many cases, however, it is possible for both parties to soften their approach and reach mutually acceptable middle ground. 3. Discuss with a family lawyer the various options for negotiating a settlement. There are various ways of approaching family law in Canada. You may wish to use mediation, a less formal process than litigation, where a neutral mediator listens to both sides’ stories, concerns, and perspectives, and tries to help the parties reach a mutually agreeable outcome, often by suggesting or hypothesizing what would happen if the matter went to court. Another option is collaborative family law. This is a process whereby both sides hire a lawyer as their collaborative lawyer, and the lawyers agree to withdraw from representation if an agreement cannot be reached. This approach encourages lawyers to do everything they can to help their clients reach a fair settlement and avoid litigation. In some cases, litigation may be necessary, such as where both parties are extremely emotional, or where one spouse has been abusive, or is just completely unwilling to compromise. 4. Begin thinking about the best arrangement for your children. If you have children, separation and divorce will mean deciding what to do with the children. It is imperative to consider what is genuinely best for your children; leave your own wants out of the picture. Have both you and your spouse been equally involved in your children’s lives? Or, is there truly one parent who has tended to parenting duties more often, and has a somewhat stronger bond with the children? Has your spouse been abusive to the children? Will you and your spouse be able to live near each other? These are all questions to consider when determining whether you can agree to a joint custody arrangement, sole custody with visitation rights for one parent, or other. Even if you want sole custody of your children, you must be realistic about the strength of relationship that your children have with your spouse. Think also about what makes sense for the children in terms of living arrangements and the ability of one parent versus the other to spend adequate time caring for them. 5. Think about what to do with the house.
One of the first things to think about when separating, if you own a house, is what to do with the real estate. With a fluctuating market, it is important to begin to think about whether to sell, whether to buy out your spouse’s share of the property, how quickly to sell, and where you might move. Your new living arrangements will also affect your children’s lives and your custody arrangement and parenting plan, so it is good to set your mind to this immediately. 6. Try not to be completely consumed by what’s happening. Divorce is extremely emotionally consuming, so try giving yourself a breather, try to enjoy other hobbies, and socialize with friends and loved ones. It is important to treat your separation seriously, but you still need to live your life. Don’t let your divorce completely disrupt the other elements of your life. 7. Don’t use the legal process to “get even” with your spouse Too often, spouses who are angry at each other use the legal process to irritate their spouse and cause them to waste money, and simply make them miserable. Treat the legal process as what it is - a way to reach the fairest settlement possible, as efficiently as possible. 8. Find a lawyer who listens. When you see a lawyer, make sure he or she spends time to get to know your personal circumstances and which things matter to you the most. A lawyer will do a better job helping you if he or she comes to know you. Your lawyer needs a full understanding of your relationship with your spouse and kids. Be wary of a lawyer who rushes you though these details. 9. Don’t try to hide anything. Lawyers are very good investigators, and are good at getting people to cough up documents and information. Do not hide any financial information or documents from your lawyer and from your spouse. This will only hurt your credibility and extend the process of reaching a settlement or concluding litigation. 10. Take care of yourself. It is very easy to be hard on yourself when you are going through a divorce. This is the last thing you need during an already tough time. Treat yourself with respect, try your best to eat well and sleep well, and call upon family and friends for support. When You Need a Family Lawyer in St. Catharines, Contact J Leigh Daboll If you are faced with separation, contact our divorce lawyers in St. Catharines to arrange a consultation. We will listen carefully and can discuss your next steps with you. Call today at 905-892-0569.