separation; family law; wife; husband; marriage; alberta

Separation Preparation Guide

No Knowing Can Hurt You In An Alberta Separation

Separation preparation is not expensive or difficult. You need to know what your rights and obligations are before you make the significant decision of separating from your spouse. Clients often meet with us when it is too late to turn back the clock. Here are some important things to consider before separating from your spouse:

Attend Relationship Counseling

Many people believe their relationship is past the point of no return, but there is no harm in seeking professional help from a psychologist or marriage counselor especially if there are children involved. Even if your relationship ends, the benefits of counseling will often permeate through to settlement discussions and finalizing issues such as property division and parenting.

Consult With A Family Law Lawyer Before Separation

With all separation preparation it is important for clients to understand all of the issues pertaining to their case prior to taking any major steps, such as moving out of the house or selling matrimonial property. Sometimes clients will take an unreasonable position on a certain issue as a result of not understanding the law. It is important for clients to understand their rights in order to avoid participating in any unnecessary arguments which can stall negotiations and increase legal fees unnecessarily. As a part of separation preparation, we recommend that clients attend with a lawyer who specializes in the area of family law. This way they will understand the legal position specific to their circumstances.

Do Not Leave The Matrimonial Home Or Joint Residence

It is imperative that clients receive legal advice prior to making any physical moves. As soon as you leave your residence, you are often leaving behind the most significant investment which can significantly impact your negotiation position. It is also very important to have at least an interim parenting arrangement in place prior to moving out of the house, as it is often very difficult for clients to change a parenting schedule once a status quo has been created. This almost always causes the parent who is moving out of the home to incur increased legal fees. All of this being said, always keep in mind the best interests of your children. If the conflict in the house is getting to the point where it is affecting the health and well being of your children, one party should remove themselves. However before it gets to this point, speak with a lawyer. Your separation preparation should include understanding all the potential consequences to your actions so that you can do what is best for you and your children.

Collect Financial Information

This should be the first step your lawyer takes once divorce proceedings have commenced. It is much easier and much more cost effective for lawyers to provide clients with legal advice if we are provided with as much information as possible from the get-go.

Removing Household Items

If you have made a decision to leave the home, take more items than you need given that these items will be valued at garage sale prices and not their replacement value. Clients are often frustrated when they realize that they will not be compensated for having to purchase new furniture and household items for their new residence.

Do Not Buy A New Home Or List Your Home For Sale

Clients should never take these two significant steps without first executing an Agreement or at the very least seeking legal advice. Taking these steps without a comprehensive settlement will often negatively impact one party’s position on parenting and/or ongoing support obligations.

Meet With A Mortgage Specialist

It is important that clients understand what their options are and whether or not they may be in a financial position to purchase another home or purchase the other party’s interest in their current home. Often clients are adamant that they be able to stay in the matrimonial home, when in reality, they cannot afford to do this. By attending this meeting, which is often free, clients are able to avoid incurring unnecessary legal fees arguing a position that was never an option to begin with.

Watch Joint Bank Accounts, Credit Cards & Lines Of Credit

We rarely recommend that clients change the way they bank or financially contribute to joint assets in the early days of a separation. However, it is imperative that clients are aware if their partner is removing funds from a joint bank account or spending irregular amounts of money on joint credit cards or lines of credit. Once this money is spent, it is often very difficult for a client to be reimbursed. Clients will often spend significant amounts of legal fees arguing about this issue, so it important to avoid having to address it if possible.

Review Your Medical And Dental Benefits

If clients have health and dental benefits held privately or provided though their employment, counseling and psychological services will often be covered by these insurance plans. It is important for clients to understand what expenses may be covered to ensure that family counseling or counseling for Children options are available to them.

Need Help with Separation Preparation?

Thinking about separation preparation and want to learn more? You can schedule a simple consultation with one of our family law team. While you can certainly retain us to represent you, there is no pressure to do so. You will have the opportunity to go over your specific situation so that you can make goof choices should you decide to separate. Our family law lawyers are in Calgary, Alberta and may be reached at 403-225-8810 or by email us directly here.