In this first in a series of articles, I will “walk you through” the processes involved in arranging for a divorce, starting with the initial separation, and ending with the formal divorce order and beyond. By outlining the various steps, you should have a better understanding of the practical considerations and legal processes that are involved.
1. Deciding to Separate
The initial stage involves the decision between you and your spouse to formally separate. You will both have to make many mutual decisions about who amongst your circle of family and friends should be told about the separation, and in what manner. Emotionally this may be among the hardest of steps, especially if there are children involved whose needs and sensibilities will have to be taken into account.
2. Initial Negotiations
Once you have decided irrevocably to separate, a number of implicit obligations between you and your spouse are triggered. Primary among these is the duty to negotiate fairly with each other. This duty persists throughout the entire legal divorce process, but it first comes into play during the initial stages when pressing decisions must be made about things like arranging for separate residences, deciding on the custody of and access to children, and doing some preliminary untangling of your joint day-to-day financial affairs.
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Although many separating couples tend to wait to hire lawyers later, it is never too early. Our firm can help you with even this very preliminary stage of negotiations; the approach you take to conflict-resolution during these initial dealings can set the tone for the entirety of the upcoming divorce process. Almost by definition, conflict and emotionality will tend to run high at this stage, but it is always wise to be as co-operative as possible with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, so that future attempts at negotiation are not irrevocably jeopardized right at the outset.
Next article: Hiring Your Lawyers; Developing a Strategy
Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to the steps and processes involved in separating and getting divorced in Ontario. Contact us to set up a consultation.