How should I prepare for a divorce?
Are you struggling to divorce? There are steps you can take. Read the blog and learn how to prepare for a divorce
Divorce is tough. Going through a separation is emotionally exhausting and financially draining. There are steps you can take to prepare for a divorce that can make the process smoother and less stressful.
1. Gather important financial documents.
The financial aspect of divorce is often the messiest. It is challenging to divide up assets, figure out responsibility for debt, and determine how much child support and spousal support should be paid. It is even more difficult to sort these issues out if you don’t have financial records to prove your claim. Often, one spouse will hide assets or refuse to disclose important documents in a divorce case. To prevent this, gather financial records and make copies so you are prepared. Key financial records typically include current mortgage statements, bank records, loan documents, credit card bills, pension documents, and account statements for RRSPs and other investments. You will also need your income tax returns and Notices of Assessment for the three most recent years, so make sure you have copies of them.
2.Get advice from a good divorce lawyer.
Divorce law is complicated. Mistakes can be costly and have a major impact on the outcome of your divorce. You simply cannot be expected to know or understand all the laws, rules, and procedures or how they apply in your situation. An experienced divorce lawyer will protect your interests, and help you understand your rights and responsibilities so you can make informed decisions about your future. You should reach out to a divorce lawyer as early as possible, even if you are still just thinking about separating. A lawyer with family law and divorce law expertise can help you strategize and get a plan in place to prepare for a divorce.
3.Protect yourself and your children.
Save texts and emails, especially in the time leading up to separation and immediately after. Write down important dates or details of significant incidents so you have a record of what happened. Your spouse may later lie, deny they said something, or say that things happened in a different way. You can protect yourself by having a record of what happened or what was said. Be aware that what you say and do may also be used as evidence, so you can also protect yourself by avoiding rudeness, insults, or being unreasonable, especially when it comes to communications regarding parenting and matters relating to the children. If family violence is an issue or you fear that it may become an issue on separation, talk to an experienced Councillor or Police Officer about options to protect your safety and the safety of your children.
4.Start to untangle your finances and your lives.
Married spouses often have joint bank accounts, shared credit cards, and know each others’ passwords and PINs. Depending on your situation, consider these steps to prepare for separation and divorce:
- Save up so you have enough to cover a few months’ living expenses on your own once you separate. The court process is not known for being especially quick. Expect it to take a few months after separation for financial support to be sorted out—even then, it may only be on a temporary basis until a final court order is made or separation agreement is reached.
- Keep a close eye on joint accounts, credit cards, or lines of credit. Your spouse may try to drain the account on separation, leaving you in the lurch. Consider closing these accounts if appropriate or talk to a divorce lawyer about ways to secure your finances if you have concerns.
- Set up a bank account and credit card in your own name. This will help you build a credit score of your own and will help you more easily transition to being independent.
- Change the passwords for your phone, your email, online banking, etc.
- Look at ownership of assets, like your car: who is the registered owner? Whose name is the insurance in? Whose name is on the car loan if you financed it? It is an excellent idea to make a list of all assets, debts, and property you own individually or with your spouse, along with the value for each item in the list. That inventory will be invaluable down the road when it is time to prove what you own and figure out a fair division.
Reach out for advice on how to prepare for your divorce
Dick Byl Law Corporation has guided clients through the challenging process of separation and divorce for nearly 40 years in Prince George. It is so important to be prepared and understand your rights under divorce law. Please reach out to us to book your appointment today. Our divorce lawyer will work relentlessly to ensure a fair outcome that protects you and your financial future.