I’m scared to separate from my spouse, what should I do?
If you are feeling scared or apprehensive about separating from your spouse, it is important to prioritize your safety and well-being. Creating a plan can help keep you and your family safe while navigating the separation process. If you are leaving a violent relationship, you can obtain a protection order which will restrain your ex-spouse from contacting or communicating with you if there is a risk of family violence. Any breach of a protection order is a criminal offence.
Additionally, it is encouraged that individuals consider the following when going through their separation so that they do not feel alone in the process:
- Seek support - reach out to trusted family members, friends, or support organizations who can provide emotional support during this challenging time. Consider joining support groups or seeking professional counseling to help you cope with your emotions.
- Safety first - if you are in an abusive or unsafe situation, your safety should be the top priority. Contact local authorities or organizations specializing in domestic violence for assistance. They can help you develop a safety plan and provide resources to ensure your well-being.
The following resources can also provide direction for anyone interested in developing their own personal safety plan:
Calgary Legal Guidance offers an award-winning Domestic Violence Family Law Program, where lawyers and social workers coach victims and survivors through the legal, practical, and emotional aspects of separating from an abusive partner – including safety planning. If you identify as a victim or survivor of family violence, you qualify for their multidisciplinary support.
The Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter is a prominent organization committed to eradicating family violence and abuse affecting women, children, youth, and men. Their comprehensive online platform provides a wealth of information, including resources tailored specifically for safety planning.
In British Columbia
Collaboratively, the Ministry of Justice and BC Housing have published an in-depth booklet on crafting a safety plan. This valuable guide is conveniently accessible through their website.
- Consult with a family lawyer - speaking with a family lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options. They can provide guidance on issues like property division, child custody, and support. A lawyer can also help you navigate the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.
- Explore alternative dispute resolution options – such as mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law. These processes can help facilitate communication and negotiation between you and your spouse in a more cooperative and less adversarial manner.
- Create a support network of professionals - surround yourself with a network of professionals, such as therapists, financial advisors, and family law professionals, who can provide guidance and assistance throughout the separation process.
Develop a plan - work with your support network, including your family lawyer, to develop a comprehensive plan for your separation. This may include temporary living arrangements, financial considerations, and parenting arrangements if children are involved.