If divorce is on your horizon, you do not want to be ill-prepared. There will be a lot of important life decisions that you will need to make, but we are here to help identify the key areas you should be focusing on.
Below is a complete checklist of what your main focuses and “to-dos” should be, from pre to post-divorce.
Preliminary Measures You Should Be Taking
You should start compiling your documents right from the start. This way there isn’t a mad dash to get everything in order. Think about your finances, your spouse or partner’s finances and what your lawyer may need to get a full picture. Do you have businesses? Do you have investments or insurance? Think about your expenses as well. It is also important to keep your records and documents in a safe place so they don’t go missing during your separation.
Your Mental Health Matters
You may need extra support during this time, so it is important to figure out who is going to be your support line.
It will be important for you to find friends or family members, your family doctor, or organizations where you feel safe to help you through the difficult times.
Record Your Journey
If you have children with your spouse it is best to keep a journal documenting the steps you’ve taken and any relevant information regarding the separation and the children.
Journals typically are very useful later on and can be used as evidence when you need to recall specific incidents. It is important to include instances of emotional or physical stress, or abuse as evidence to make your case stronger.
Think to the Future
The divorce process can be expensive, so you may want to put some money aside for legal fees and other costs, just in case.
If you have money in the bank, you’re in a stronger position to demand what you deserve and not settle because you can’t afford to fight. If need be line up loans from financial institutions or family members to bargain from a position of strength.
Know that if a divorce is imminent, anything you do may become evidence against you. It is best to assume that anything you put on social media, through email or even text can become a potential exhibit against you in your divorce.
Our best advice is to not make your private life public on any social or other platforms. Any bad behaviour may be brought forward in the divorce and may not be looked upon kindly in the courts, especially if there are children involved.
After the divorce has been finalized you will want to hold on to several copies of the divorce order or separation agreement. They will be needed to transfer property and accounts. In the event you are changing your name, they will be needed for applications for passports, driver’s licenses, health cards etc.
In a marriage, there may be significant assets, including but not limited to, pensions and retirement savings accounts that need to be divided. Having the correct paperwork in hand can go a long way in ensuring a seamless transition to post-divorce life.
Lastly, similar to before the divorce, you will want to keep a journal of all parenting issues and support payments.
Taxes, Banking & Legal Tips
When it comes to your banking and tax connections be sure to:
- To divide RRSP assets in a tax-efficient manner.
- Make a new will and change your beneficiary designations on RRSPs, insurance policies and investments, if applicable.
- Any joint accounts and credit cards should be closed and distributed.
- Ensure there are no outstanding cheques and ongoing payments from your accounts, or if the account is maintained by both parties, either close it or remove one party’s name.
Divorce can be very draining, both physically and emotionally, so it is best to have legal help to guide you through things. There are many things to consider outside of this checklist that a lawyer should be assisting you with.
We know your children are your number one priority and to help we have also outlined a complete guide to all child custody laws in Ontario for you to review.
The law can also be difficult to follow so we have created an easy-to-follow article that discusses divorce law in Ontario for your review as well. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation.