Divorce is a complex legal process that requires a division of marital assets and often a division of parenting time. Before starting fresh in life outside of marriage, you must navigate a series of financial and parental decisions. Your emotions will likely be intense, but that is natural. When filing for divorce in Alberta, you will benefit from careful preparation. Ideally, you will consult an Edmonton divorce lawyer prior to taking any action. If you’ve already moved out or announced your intention to divorce, you can still learn how to prepare for divorce in Alberta and protect your rights.
What Should I Do First To Prepare For Divorce?
When you decide that you want to end your marriage, you should avoid making assumptions about your rights and what will happen. Although your divorce may bear similarities to those that your friends or relatives have gone through, each marriage has unique characteristics. Your assets, debts, incomes, and primary concerns will differ from other couples.
To get a clear understanding of what will happen, you should talk to an Alberta divorce attorney before moving forward. An attorney will outline your property and parental rights and address your special concerns. To make your first meeting with a lawyer as productive as possible, you should assemble financial records before scheduling a consultation.
What Financial Records Are Needed For Divorce?
An Alberta divorce lawyer will want to see basically everything about your financial life in order to advise you properly. This is necessary because once the divorce process gets rolling, both spouses must make complete financial disclosures.
In general, you should collect:
- Mortgage and loan statements
- Credit card statements
- Income filings to the Canada Revenue Agency
- Employment income records
- Self-employment income records
- Business income records
- Bank account statements
- Investment account statements
- Retirement account statements
For various reasons, some people may need to know how to prepare for divorce secretly. Gathering financial information might be easier before your spouse learns that you want to leave. You should be able to gather financial information discreetly by printing or copying records. If you don’t have access to some of your spouse’s accounts but know that they exist, you can make a list of them. Farther down the road, if your spouse does not cooperate with financial disclosures, an Edmonton divorce attorney will know what to ask for.
Whether you are preparing for divorce openly or secretly, you need to get an idea of what your financial situation will look like after the divorce. A post-divorce financial assessment is vital for making decisions when negotiating property division and perhaps spousal support.
How Can I Get Financial Advice About Divorce?
Although Edmonton divorce lawyers can explain the financial consequences of divorce, consulting a divorce financial analyst will supply you with practical insights. The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts trains financial professionals in the specific details of divorce financial planning. Getting financial advice in addition to legal advice is very common. An expert analysis could reveal whether you can afford to stay in the marital home as a single person or whether you can buy a new place to live.
Specialized financial advice covers:
- Short and long-term financial consequences of divorce
- Retirement savings
- Income taxes
- Planning for living expenses as a single person
The outcome of a financial analysis will be relevant when negotiating property division and spousal support. If a divorce goes to court, the professional analyst could provide expert testimony about your anticipated financial needs and challenges.
Do I Need A Separation Agreement To Get A Divorce In Alberta?
Twelve months of separation serves as grounds for divorce in Alberta and throughout Canada. You do not have to supply any other reasons for ending the marriage beyond a one-year separation.
However, you do not have to complete a formal separation agreement prior to filing for divorce. As long as you can prove 12 months of spousal separation and enter a qualifying separation date on the Divorce Affidavit, the court will move forward with processing the divorce.
Despite not being a legal requirement for divorce, a separation agreement can be very useful when preparing for divorce. A separation agreement functions as a contract between the splitting spouses that can outline child custody, child or spousal support, and property division. You may seek out legal assistance while writing a separation agreement.
By completing a separation agreement, you could very well have finished most of the mental and emotional heavy lifting necessary to divorce. The terms of the separation agreement can be transferred to the final terms of the divorce. Additionally, a court can enforce the terms of a separation agreement if your former partner does not observe them.
A separation agreement has the potential to limit delays in finalizing the divorce. The document also helps you do a test run with your chosen child custody arrangement to see if you need to make any adjustments before finalizing a divorce. During the time between separation and formal divorce, financial institutions may ask for proof regarding your marital status. The separation agreement could spare you from being treated as a two-income household.
Why Is Separation Necessary?
Unless you have the option of citing adultery or cruelty as grounds for divorce, separation is needed by the court to grant a divorce. Therefore, it is an essential component of how to prepare for divorce in Alberta.
Your circumstances, however, might make separation difficult if neither person has the means to move out. Income, lack of affordable housing, or concerns about disrupting children’s lives can motivate people to delay separation. This does not mean that you cannot initiate separation. Family law provides a mechanism for separation when spouses share a home.
To achieve spousal separation in the same home, you must:
- Sleep in separate bedrooms
- Not have sex
- Not cook or clean for each other
- Eat meals separately
- Not socialize together
- Limit communication
When Should I Move Out To Start A Divorce?
Strong emotions usually motivate someone to move out and pursue divorce. You might do this in the heat of the moment after reaching a breaking point. However, you should not take this step without legal advice.
Leaving the marital home could weaken your negotiating position when you must decide how to separate assets and debts. A sudden departure can also limit your ability to collect important financial records. Guidance from an Edmonton family lawyer can help you plan your move while preserving your rights and options.
How Long Does A Divorce Take In Alberta?
The majority of divorces take over one year due to the 12-month separation requirement. After separation, an uncontested divorce might only take an additional one to three months. Disputes about money and child custody will prolong this process, especially if a judge has to decide the outcome.
How Do I Learn About Child Custody?
For parents, child custody comprises a big portion of divorce negotiations. Once you are sure that you want to divorce, you need to focus on limiting disruptions in the lives of your children. The custody arrangement that you arrive at must reflect the best interests of the children. This is the standard that a court will apply to all custody decisions.
In Edmonton and throughout Alberta, you have access to parenting seminars designed to help you plan an acceptable and positive child custody arrangement. You will be required to complete a seminar before filing your divorce application.
The seminar will teach you about:
- Effects of divorce on children
- Communication for co-parents
- Parenting plan creation
- Dispute resolution
Consult A Family Law Lawyer Before Separation
Kolinsky Law has the resources that you need to prepare for divorce in Edmonton, Alberta. We have experience in all areas of family law and can advise you whether you are just thinking about divorce or already separated. For a confidential meeting with a divorce lawyer, contact our office today.