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wife and husband having a fight

If you have made or are in the process of making the difficult decision to separate from your spouse, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the number of unknowns that come along with that decision. Who should move out of the family home?

Who will the children live with? How do we divide our assets and debt? Can I afford day-to-day living expenses on my own? Am I entitled to spousal support? Each of these questions is bound up with emotional, financial, and practical considerations. If you need help with your separation and want an experienced family lawyer on your side as you navigate the process, contact Valerie M. Little at her office today.

Why is it important to involve lawyers in a separation?

Here is the overarching reason why it’s important to involve lawyers in a separation: an experienced family lawyer will explain your rights and options and advise you on the legal implications of any decisions. Once you are equipped with clear legal advice, you will be in an ideal position to make decisions that address all of your emotional, financial, and practical considerations and put you on strong footing to forge ahead in your new life post-separation. When you have a skilled and professional family lawyer on your side, you will benefit from their years of education, training and experience. A good family lawyer will help you prepare for the separation and guide you through the process so it is as manageable as it can be.

How can involving a lawyer in a separation help me?

We have discussed the overarching reason why it’s important to involve lawyers in a separation. Now let’s discuss how involving a lawyer can benefit you in a separation in more specific ways: 

• When you are represented by a family lawyer, your lawyer will advocate and negotiate with the other side on your behalf. This is invaluable if you and your spouse are having difficulty communicating or disagree on important issues. Your lawyer will act as a buffer between you and your ex, help ensure you are not making emotionally charged decisions, and protect your legal rights. If your spouse hires a divorce lawyer, it can be intimidating to represent yourself and you may be worried that you will be taken advantage of. If you hire a family lawyer to represent you, that lawyer’s job is to protect your legal rights and ensure that the process is fair. Your lawyer will also know what financial documents to request and ensure that that information is disclosed. 

• When you are mired in the stress of a separation or divorce, it can be difficult to be forward-thinking or understand how the process will play out. For example, when it comes to division of assets and debt, a family lawyer can advise you on the legal and practical issues including who is entitled to what property, how to properly valuate assets (including the family home, businesses, pensions, RRSPs, stocks/shares, or property you or your ex held prior to the marriage), steps you can take to protect your interest in property or your exposure to further debt and liability your spouse may incur post-separation, and how long the process will likely take to divide family property. 

• If you try to represent yourself in your separation or rely on family or friends (or a google search!) for advice, it is possible that you may unknowingly miss something in your agreement with your spouse, inaccurately draft a term that leaves you exposed to future claims or liabilities, or come to realize later that you or your ex misunderstood what you “agreed” to. A family lawyer will properly document the negotiated settlement in a separation agreement, using clear and definitive language so that neither party can claim a misinterpretation in the future. Your lawyer will carefully draft and review the entire agreement to ensure there are no unenforceable clauses, including a dispute resolution mechanism so both you know exactly what to do if your ex-spouse breaches the agreement.

• Hiring a family lawyer may help you avoid having to go to court. That may seem counterintuitive, but in fact, being represented by a skilled family lawyer may allow you to avoid family litigation. Your lawyer can help you come to a clear and comprehensive separation agreement on all the issues you and your spouse need to resolve, such as the division of family property (assets and debts), child custody, parenting time (access issues), child support, and spousal support (also known as alimony). It is possible for you and your spouse to decide everything and have total control over the outcome. If you have a separation agreement that settles all issues, including reasonable arrangements for parenting and child support, you can then apply for and obtain a divorce order without ever having to go to court.

Need help? Talk to an experienced family lawyer for guidance with your separation

If you are going through a separation or divorce and need advice from a BC family lawyer, contact Valerie M. Little to schedule your initial consultation. Ms. Little's practice is exclusively devoted to issues of family law in Burnaby, Coquitlam, and New Westminster. No matter what family law questions or issues you might be facing, we are here to help. We can review your situation and advise you on the best course of action. You will want a signed agreement to divide your assets and debts and determine familial obligations, especially if you opt to divorce. Such decisions should be given careful consideration, be properly made, and agreed to in writing. We can help you devise your strategy, understand the implications and the law, and guide you through negotiations to reach a clear and comprehensive separation agreement. Protect yourself legally by speaking to an experienced separation or divorce lawyer today. Call our office at 604-526-3333.

This blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice for any particular situation. Please consult a qualified family law professional before making any family law decisions.


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