Common Client Mistakes Around the Time of Separation

This is a list of tips that should help you avoid making common mistakes. These are mistakes that have the potential to hurt your children, increase the conflict between you and your former partner, increase legal costs drag out the settlement process and/or backfire in court. They are common mistakes because they are things that many separating clients do or avoid when they are hurt, worried or scared.

  1. Talk to your children when the decision to separate has been made. Give your children an age appropriate, no blame explanation.
  2. Don’t threaten or partake in violence, don’t even joke about it.
  3. Do not threaten to keep the children from the other parent.
  4. Do not threaten to financially break your spouse.
  5. Do not threaten to quit your job.
  6. Financially support your children, even if you don’t get to see them.
  7. Be respectful in your communication with the other person. This includes e-mail communication and messages left on voice mail. Imagine that a judge, your boss and your mother will be reading/hearing everything that you say or write. Be respectful as you can to the other person.
  8. Do not leave the relationship before you have all of the necessary financial documents. Documents include tax returns, marriage certificates, bank statements, pension statements, property deeds, credit card bills, mortgage statements, personal lines of credit etc… It saves time and money if you do this.
  9. Avoid entering into a new relationship until your children have adjusted to the separation, you have adjusted to the separation and your legal affairs have been settled. If this is not possible do not flaunt a new relationship to your spouse and do not introduce a new partner to your children until you know the relationship is serious. Children do best when they have the opportunity to adjust to the separation before they are expected to adjust to their parent being with a new partner. Quickly entering into another relationship or flaunting a relationship to your former partner greatly impacts how your former partner feels and this in turn impacts their willingness to reach a settlement with you. It also impacts how much money you pay in legal fees.
  10. Do not purchase large assets (i.e. new homes or new cars) around the time of separation without getting financial and legal advice.
  11. Get financial advice.
  12. Work on separating your legal issues from your emotional issues. Don’t let your emotions run up your legal bills. If you need help doing this talk to a counsellor, psychologist or your doctor.
  13. Don’t make offers to settle without getting legal advice regarding what your rights and responsibilities are. Don’t rely on the information from TV or friends or neighbours as there is a lot of incorrect information out there. Talk to a lawyer about your own specific circumstances.

These tips are for general information purposes, they are not a replacement for meeting with a lawyer as information may change based upon individual circumstances. Where safety is an issue for you or your children some of these tips may not be appropriate.