What to Do When Separating
Deciding to separate from a spouse or partner is a difficult decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Once the decision is made, our clients often do not know what to do next. Here are some things to consider if you have decided to separate from your partner.
This is often the first step, but who leaves and who stays? If the parties can agree on who remains in the family home, the cost and hassle of litigation or mediation can be avoided. If the parties cannot agree, an application or mediation may be required to settle the issue. It is important to note, though: a party remaining in the home doesn’t equate to keeping the home. Moving out of the joint family residence is simply a step in the divorce process, and does not “settle” the division of property issues.
Paying the Bills
Every family is different and there are numerous ways financial responsibilities can be addressed early in a separation. For many, maintaining the status quo is preferable until getting the assistance of a family lawyer or accountant. Others may put pay cheques into a joint account for bills, though the likely outcome is one party paying more. Regardless of the arrangement, it is important to keep bill payments up to date to maintain both parties’ credit ratings. Additionally, keep a record of expenses so that if accounting is required, you have the necessary documentation.
Parenting the Kids
Unquestionably, the most important issue after separation is maintaining a healthy relationship with your children. Research shows that kids benefit from having strong bonds with each parent – spending quality time with Mom and Dad post-separation is essential in maintaining these bonds. Whomever moves out of the home, both parties’ cooperation is a must in creating quality time and supporting the children in their new family situation.
Ending the Relationship
To formally end a marriage, spouses require the assistance of the court to get a divorce granted, but issues of property, support and parenting will need to be settled beforehand. Common law couples – adult interdependent partners under the Adult Interdependent Relationship Act – do not need a divorce, but rather separation for one year or entry into a separation agreement.
If separation is in your sight line, the Legal Navigator at Coach My Case can help you go your own way and guide you on the path to a fair settlement.