What to Consider Before Getting a Divorce

What to Consider Before Getting a Divorce

Getting a divorce is one of the most serious decisions that should take a lot of consideration. Just a few thoughts about what you might want to consider when planning for divorce.

It won’t come as a surprise when I say divorce is a traumatic experience for everyone in the family. Even when you try to hide the details from the kids, they have a way of picking up; they understand more than what you may believe. But do they understand so they don’t feel their world has been completely shaken? You might want to discuss a divorce with a family professional; discuss how you might deal with the kids to reduce feelings of dread and loss. You do not have to go through a divorce alone and the lawyer, in all honesty, may not be the best person for answering questions dealing with the psychological and emotional impact.

Another one it’s helpful to meet with is your accountant if you have one,  or a financial planner so you can get some planning for the financial aspect. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (the CDFA designation) addresses the special financial issues of divorce with data to help achieve equitable settlements.

Another financial specialist is a chartered financial divorce specialist (CDFS designation). The CDFS is a financial planning professional with a recognized designation, who has been specially trained in financial projections and the analysis of financial matters involving separation and divorce. A consultation with a financial specialist in divorce situations is a recommended step for planning and dealing with the uncertainty.

Related article: How much does Divorce Cost in New Brunswick? 

Getting a Divorce or a Legal Separation?

You may think that you’re certain that divorce is what you want. But every lawyer has the legal obligation of pointing out reconciliation as a possibility to be sure that divorce if that is what you want, is really the only option because the breakdown in the relationship is irretrievable.

But you need to keep in mind that the divorce is probably an incidental issue in the legal process. While parenting and support may be termed ancillary to the divorce, legally speaking, they are really at its core. It’s the parenting, property and support, both child and spousal, that create the complications.

The divorce is not always the catalyst for the legal process. Often couples can separate without intending at first to get the divorce; the decision to separate is all that is needed to start discussions about the main concerns about parenting, support and property division. Once these are determined, then the parties finalize their arrangement by getting the divorce order. Often separation takes place even though the couple continues to reside in the same property. If they are separate and apart, they can be separated even though they still live in the home at the same time.

It only takes one to say the relationship is over and you are separated. The couple does not have to decide this together. They may but it can be only one party who decides the relationship is over.

Gather Important Papers and Documents

Once you’ve decided you’re separated or you want to separate, then you need to think about the necessary steps that you need to take before going through the process officially.

You need to collect your financial information. If you know the date of separation you should obtain statements from all accounts and investments as of that date as well as for the date of marriage if you had these accounts and investments as of the date of marriage. The property you own will need to be valued also as of the date of separation. If they were acquired before marriage and owned as of the date of marriage you will need to obtain statements indicating the value as of the date of marriage since this may qualify for an exemption. A Divorce Financial Professional can help you to put together the documentation that eventually will have to be given to your lawyer.

It is recommended to make copies of income statements, several months of your most recent pay stubs, the last 3 years tax returns and notices of assessment (and reassessment), property transfers, mortgage statements, account balances, investments accounts statements, RRSP’s, RESP’s (or RRIF’s), TFSA statements, credit card statements, lines of credit and loans, etc. This will allow you to have the basic documents. This is by no means an exhaustive or complete list of what you will need. Each case is different and the more complex your financial circumstances will require more extensive documentation. Meeting with a lawyer or divorce financial professional will help you clarify what other documentation will have to be collected and produced.

Making Plans About Finances

Separation is expensive. Your choices ranging from how to proceed and the advisors you choose can ultimately affect the cost. There are several legal process alternatives you can choose from, whether mediation, collaborative law, traditional negotiation and court or arbitration. You can consult with a lawyer about what will work best for you, but it probably is a good idea to consider how you will pay and possibly setting aside funds to cover at least the initial costs. If you will have difficulty paying for whatever process you choose, you should speak with a lawyer or family specialist about the issue.

As a basic rule of thumb, it’s probably safe to say if your divorce is contentious or there are complex issues at stake, then it is more likely the costs will be higher. When parties are basically in agreement on the outcome, the cost is lower. When they are fighting over every detail, the cost will be higher. For that reason, you should educate yourself about the different processes at the start before you make any final decision about how to move ahead. Each process will have a different cost. They can run from reasonable to very expensive.

Related article: 5 Expensive Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce

Final Thoughts

Each divorce is unique. You cannot and should not compare your situation to a friend or family member who got divorced. That’s why when deciding on getting a divorce, the first thing you should do is to seek professional help to guide you through the process. Being prepared will help you steer through the difficulties you will face.

Help is available if you make the effort and take some time to look for it. If you need more information or wish the book a consultation, call James Foulds Family Law & Mediation.

Related article: Is collaborative family law right for your divorce?

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