The beginning of a separation can be overwhelming. On top of the emotional vortex, most people have a lot of practical questions. What schedule makes sense for the kids? Should I move? Who will pay for what?
But mostly: what do I do next? Here are 5 important tips on what to do after separation.
1. Keep calm and carry on.
Take a deep breath, and look after yourself.
This can be a rough emotional time. It is important to look after your own health and mindset. You are not expected to have all the answers on day one!
Looking after yourself is an essential part of the separation and divorce process. Personal counselling is great. Explore healthy ways to reduce stress and look forward. Getting legal information and advice can help ease the stress of uncertainty.
2. Be civil.
Being civil to your partner is crucial. That doesn’t mean agreeing to everything or giving in, it just means doing your part to keep conflict low. This is especially important if you have children.
But, don’t make an agreement on big financial or parenting issues until you have had legal advice. Why? It is important to know your rights and obligations before making a deal.
If you have children, also take the free Parenting After Separation (PAS) seminar. This is a free online course offered by the Alberta government.
3. Stay in the house if it is safe to do so.
If it is safe, generally we say to stay in the house for the time being. Why? Because once someone moves out, issues such as parenting schedules, who pays the bills, and support become much more urgent.
Do seek legal advice if you living together isn’t really practical.
If there are safety issues: call 911 if you need immediate help.
Emergency Protection Orders, Restraining Orders may be appropriate.
Need to talk? Mental Health Hotline: 1-877-303-2642
Sagesse is also a good resource for support for those who have or may experience domestic violence.
4. Gather your financial documents.
Start to gather your financial information. This is usually the first step towards dealing with financial issues. (Read our blog on financial disclosure here). This starts with your income information and includes overall net worth (information on all your assets and debts). Make notes of your questions but not on the documents directly!
5. Talk to a lawyer. Get legal information and advice.
It is valuable to find out early the laws and rules/guidelines are around parenting, child support, spousal support, property, finances, estates, and what processes can help you sort it all out.
Information and planning can reduce uncertainty and stress. Early legal information can help you to step forward, rather than have missteps.
For more tips, see 9 Tips for Separating Spouses or talk to Ceri or another of our lawyers to get information and advice.
– Written by Ceri Chwieros