How to Prepare for Divorce in Canada

Make no mistake, ending a marriage is emotionally draining. Every relationship begins with a promise, and when that is broken, it ends in pain and often regrets. While no one wishes to get a divorce at the start of their relationship, it is a harsh reality for many families. However, divorce can be done in a smooth and amicable way. In fact, when a relationship breakdown is handled well, it prevents unnecessary pain and hardship that could disrupt the entire family. In this article, we will go over things to do when divorcing.

We will cover the 10 best things to do when going through a divorce to help make the entire process more peaceful and drama-free.

1. Understand Your Options

It’s important to go into the divorce process fully understanding your rights and obligations. There are so many options, and you don’t have to make a decision right away. Before you decide to battle the divorce in court, consider having someone intervene or mediating the divorce to amicably agree on the way forward. Take the time to do some research before you agree on any approach. Get a family lawyer to guide you on the different options and help protect your interests. Keep in mind that if you’re not informed, you could end up forsaking your rights.

2. Organize Your Financial Records

How will the finances be handled? This is a common question that every woman preparing for divorce has. It’s common for one spouse to take charge of the household finances, leaving the other in the dark. This could bring about messy issues during a divorce. First things first, you will need to gather up and record financial information, such as your credit reports, credit card statements, mortgage payments, loan applications, bank statements, tax returns and retirement account statements among others.

After gathering the necessary financial statements and records:

  • Make a list of all your assets and debts
  • Make a budget to outline your monthly expenses when living together
  • Make another budget to understand what your monthly expenses would be once you separate

While divorce is an overwhelming process, the worst thing you can do is pretend it’s not happening and passively allow your lawyer to do everything for you. The decisions you make now will affect you and your dependents for years to come. Being more organized from the get-go will simplify the process of financial planning even before you start the divorce process.

3. Review Your Credit History

After getting married, you and your spouse may now have a linked credit history. So how do I financially prepare for a divorce in Canada? For starters, order copies of your credit report and read them to understand how you score. It’s possible that your ex left you with some debt that needs to be cleaned up. When reviewing your credit report, look out for:

  • Unusually high credit card balances
  • Any accounts that you did not open
  • Any joint debt you owe
  • Any credit cards that you and your ex are authorized users. If the accounts go delinquent, it will hurt your credit even if you did not use the cards.

Another good step to take when looking to get a divorce is to return to your own credit history. You can take the below steps to begin building up a good credit score for yourself:

  • Open a bank account in your name only
  • Apply for a credit card
  • If you get the car or house, you can begin making payments to your name only

4. Close Joint Accounts

Closing joint accounts can help you prevent financial problems early before they occur. As soon as you know you’re headed for a divorce, consider visiting the banks to close any joint accounts you have with your ex. This will keep your money (and credit) secure until the divorce is granted.

5. Consider Mediation

Dispute resolution options like mediation are voluntary but something you should consider before taking the divorce to court. Mediation comes with several advantages:

  • You will reach an agreement more quickly
  • You will save money on legal fees
  • You will not have to be forced into divorce terms that both you and your ex don’t agree with
  • You will avoid the often emotionally draining process of trial that may have negative impacts on the entire family

Even if you think that your ex has unreasonable demands, you can still try to have a conversation on the priorities that you need to discuss in order to move ahead. In most cases, couples choose to hire a mediator who fits both their needs.

Tips to Choose a Good Mediator:

  • Find someone that you trust to guide you through the process
  • Schedule a free consultation with the mediator where both spouses attend to learn more about the process
  • Verify that the person specializes in family mediation. The focused experience in divorce mediation can be very beneficial to both spouses.
  • Verify that the person has a solid background in mediation. You must receive objective legal information from your mediator, which is why someone with a proper legal background certainly helps.
  • The mediator should offer transparent fees (a flat fee or hourly billing).

6. Don’t Be Quick to Move Out

Moving out of your matrimonial home is not recommended unless in situations where there is abuse. Moving out of your home could have the following negative impact on your divorce case:

  • If you move out and stop paying the mortgage, this may affect the division of property in your divorce case. If you have to move out, continue paying your portion of the mortgage and keep a record of those payments.
  • Leaving the home may affect your school-going children
  • If you must move out due to abuse or if you feel you are in danger, consider getting an order for temporary possession of the matrimonial home from the judge. This will allow you to have your ex legally removed from the matrimonial home.

7. Refrain From Misbehaving

Some habits such as drinking and partying, dating, or other situations that may be viewed as questionable, can have a negative impact on your divorce case. You may end up giving your spouse leverage by being involved in habits that the judge finds questionable, especially if they are draining your finances. If the case involves child custody, prioritize your children throughout the process. Make sure you spend time with your family and stay close to home. Be there for the children emotionally and physically if you want to increase your chances of getting custody.

8. How to Prepare for Divorce Emotionally

The divorce process can drain you emotionally in ways you never imagined possible. It’s important for you to take care of yourself throughout. Begin by building a strong support system. Find a close-knit group of family and friends you can talk to regarding this process. You will face important decisions that you must make, and you need a group of people who will guide you to move forward in the best way possible.

Keep your friends close and establish a positive routine that will help to boost your mood. You can also seek an external support group or go for therapy. Stay away from strongly opinionated people who want to increase drama during your divorce, as they will only spark more anxiety. Welcome constructive critics but remember that the ultimate decision lies between you and your ex.

9. Keep a Record of Everything

The divorce process can get ugly and may even uncover a side of your ex that you didn’t know existed. It’s important to keep a record of everything, including conversations and events that occurred between you and your ex, whether during or before the divorce. Your spouse can say something contrary to what really happened in any given situation.

When you have a hard time agreeing to everything with your ex, this could bring in a lot of hostility that prevents you from moving forward. You must learn to curb those hostile feelings and think more rationally. While it may not be realistic to agree on everything, you can always find a common ground. For instance, you may both want to prioritize the kids even if it means compromising on a few things. Having an open mind can help simplify things for both parties.

 10. Get a Good Divorce Lawyer

A highly experienced family lawyer can help you work out the most complex aspects of your divorce in a fast and effective manner. Take time to perform adequate due diligence when choosing legal professionals. You need to find a lawyer who specializes in family law and is compassionate and professional in their dealings. There’s a lot that you will not understand from the onset, and your lawyer should help clarify these areas as well as educate you on your rights and options. Your divorce lawyer will also fight aggressively for you during hearings, help you prepare for trial and ensure you don’t make any costly mistakes during the proceedings that affect your future. A good divorce lawyer will fight for you no matter how complicated your divorce is.