Preparing For A Divorce — What you need to do before starting the legal process

The decision to get married, raise a family and spend the rest of your lives together as a couple is not an easy one to make, yet almost 68 percent of households in Canada are composed of couples united in marriage or in a common-law relationship. Probably because they believe their marriage will last forever, few people put the same amount of thought and time into preparing for a divorce as they did planning their wedding; yet 40 percent of couples who get married for the first time eventually make the decision to seek a divorce. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, here are a few suggestions about how to prepare yourself for the legal process.

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Take the time to be sure of what you want

The responsibilities of raising a family may put a strain on the best of relationships. Financial challenges and raising children are only two of the issues that can lead to arguments and thoughts of divorce. Before beginning the legal process to end your marriage, take some time allow emotions to settle before moving forward with a divorce.

Jumping into a divorce right after a fight with your spouse is a mistake that is not easily undone once lawyers and courts are involved. If there is any hope of the marriage being saved, focus on reconciliation before the divorce process begins.

Gather and safeguard your records and important documents

Proving ownership and value of assets you brought into the marriage, establishing responsibility for debts and financial obligations and other issues that arise in a divorce require documentation. Get your financial records in order before there is an opportunity for them to “disappear” once the legal process begins ensures they will be available if and when needed for court.

Read more: Thinking About Splitting Up?

Protect your credit

You and your spouse might be in full agreement about ending the marriage, but you should protect yourself in the event circumstances change and become less than amicable. One step you can take to protect your credit is to cancel any credit cards and accounts you share with your spouse. This includes lines of credit, such as home equity loans. Taking these measures might seem harsh if you and your spouse are getting along and appear to be in agreement, but they can avoid conflicts during the legal process begins.

Find the right lawyer

The lawyer you choose to advise and represent you in your divorce should be someone with the skills and knowledge gained from handling family law cases. You also want to know your lawyer is willing to spend time to get to know you and the facts and circumstances of your case to ensure the advice, guidance and strategies are tailored to your specific situation.

Recommendations from people you know who have gone through a divorce is one method used to select a divorce lawyer, but you do not want to choose a lawyer before having the opportunity for a face-to-face consultation. A consultation allows you to ask questions about the lawyer’s experience handling cases with issues similar to your own. Equally as important is that you feel comfortable sharing details of your marriage and divorce with the lawyer and trust in the level of skill he or she will provide.

Securing the services of an experienced divorce lawyer early and before the legal process begins provides you with someone to answer questions and provide guidance about steps to take to protect yourself, your children and your assets. A divorce lawyer helps you to focus on the future and prepare yourself for life after the marriage ends.