I want to separate, now what?

By Amanda Marsden, Calgary Senior Family and Estate Planning Lawyer

If you’re contemplating separating from your partner, it’s a good idea to get some legal advice prior to making any big decisions. You don’t know how the law might apply to your specific situation until you ask someone. Every situation is unique and will require tailored legal advice. However, there are a few questions you may want to consider before your first appointment with a family lawyer.

  1. What is going to happen with the home? If you own your home, it is likely the largest family asset and may require special treatment. Do either you or your spouse want to keep the home, and if so, will either of you qualify for a new mortgage? It may be wise to have a conversation with your bank about the possibility of re-mortgaging, the associated penalties, and fees, etc. If you don’t think either of you want to keep the home, you should consider the possibility of a sale. You may want a realtor to walk through the home and provide comments on potential value and any repairs that need to be done prior to sale. Having this information available when you speak to a lawyer can go a long way to ensuring you have the most productive consult possible.

  2. What are your plans for the kids? Do you anticipate sharing parenting? If so, is this going to require changes in childcare arrangements and/or work schedules? On some occasions, parents know they want shared parenting, but have not considered the schedule that is going to work best for their family. Perhaps it’s week on week off, perhaps it's 2/2/3, or some other unique rotation. Determining potential childcare requirements and the availability of suitable care can make separating that much easier. Considering the logistics of your family’s situation and how to best address the upcoming changes is an important step in the process.

  3. Set up your own bank account and credit card. Many people already have personal financial accounts, but some people don’t. Eventually there will be a division of financial assets, and it’s helpful to ensure you have a bank account in your sole name to facilitate this division.

  4. Start gathering your financial documents. Make sure that you have access to your tax returns/notices of assessment, bank statements, investment account statements and pension information. Knowing your income, your spouse’s income and having a good idea as to what your respective assets and debts are will make for an effective meeting with your lawyer.

Once you have considered the above and have the necessary information, your lawyer will be in a much better position to give you advice and to help you come up with a plan for next steps in your separation. The experienced family lawyers at Crossroads Law will be able to walk you through the necessary steps to ensure your separation is as smooth as possible. Call today for your free 20-minute consultation.