“Until death do us part” is not always possible especially when it comes to unhappiness and conflict in a marriage. Sometimes the healthiest path is by way of separation and divorce. If you and your partner decide that there is no way of working things out in your marriage and the word divorce gets passed around, there are several things to consider before you dissolve your union.

Divorce Lawyer

Hire a good divorce lawyer


The very first thing you should do when divorce is imminent is consult a divorce lawyer. A professional can give you advice on how to file for divorce as well as help understand what you are legally allowed to do. You want to make sure you are covered for any eventuality and know your rights and repercussions of any step you take, especially if there are children involved. If you do have dependent children, hire a lawyer with experience in family law, as the legal issues around custody can get tricky. A good divorce lawyer will help you navigate the unfamiliar waters you now find yourself in and will guarantee that no misstep is taken that will cost you something down the line. The type of divorce you decide to proceed with is also an important detail that a good divorce lawyer can help with.


Tell your family


The very next step is to tell your immediate family, especially your children. Your life is about to get a lot more complicated, so take care of the hardest part first so you can focus your energy on getting the job done. There should never be any animosity between partners when dealing with the children as you will need to show stability and strength during the break up. Your kids’ welfare should be the most important thing to consider during this difficult time. Understand the family law around custody in your area before making any decisions on living arrangements or routines so you don’t promise your children anything you can’t follow through on. You also don’t want to make any plans that could hurt you in court should the battle heat up and go to litigation.


Make copies of all financial documents


You will need to take copies of all of the shared household files including bank statements, benefit statements, life insurance policies, any property titles for a car or boat, all tax returns and RRSP information. Make copies of all of it including anything that you have electronically on a home computer or tablet. Your divorce lawyer will need all of this to get a better understanding of where you are financially.


Make a list of all assets


It is important to have a good understanding of what assets the household owns and how liquid they are should you need to sell them and split the proceeds. Assets include cars, home, cottage or boat, but also any jewelry, furniture, electronics, computers, and any other property that was purchased during the marriage. You should try to find receipts that detail when the items were bought and for how much, as well as the potential value now to get an overall picture of the amounts you are dealing with for settling the property.


Make a list of all debts


It is very important to make a list of debt incurred during the marriage and how much debt was brought into the marriage by either partner. Debts that you or your spouse might have held before your union is considered “non-marital debt” and is the responsibility of whomever it belonged to. It might be a good idea to speak to your partner about debt repayment before beginning formal proceedings, as it can take up a lot of time and end up costing more in legal fees. If talks beforehand are unlikely, then make as clear a list as possible of what debts you have, when they were incurred and who incurred them, and repayment schedules.


Know what money is coming into the household

Money from Divorce

Find out what your spouse’s income is, especially if they own their own business. Any income tax returns should give you an indication of previous year’s income. You may want to keep track of all money coming in and going out through your bank statements for a few months so you can get an overall view. It is very important to have a clear understanding of shared finances while you are still married especially if there is inequity between salaries.

Whether your divorce is a simple dissolution of a union between two childless people with little property or an established family with dependents and property, you must always consult with a divorce lawyer before making any decisions. Laws around divorce and family law differ from state to state and a good attorney can give you advice on the next steps to take and advice on how to gather all of the necessary information you need to protect yourself.