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Steps to take when walking the path to divorce or separation

Getting a divorce isn't as easy as making the decision, snapping your fingers and going your separate ways. There are many issues to figure out, including what will happen to the home you share with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, how child custody will look and how to divide the marital assets, just to name a few things. Much hinges on the kind of relationship you and your ex currently have and will have after parting ways. Whether you have an amicable relationship or not, there are certain steps that need be taken in the divorce process.

Some rules in Ontario differ depending on whether you and your partner are legally married or in a common law relationship. Issues that are the same for both individuals who are legally married and common law partners are those concerning custody and access of your children, the future financial support of your children, and anything related to spousal support. Differences arise when it comes to a matrimonial home and property division. The relationship you and your partner have is unique, and your family situation will come into play when it comes to certain issues.

It's best to be prepared

Married couples usually share some, if not all, finances. So, when going through a divorce, this all obviously changes. A split doesn't just mean separating from your spouse physically. It also means you will be painting a different financial picture. First, you might want to think about opening your own bank account. That's usually a good first step to financial independence. Secondly, it might be helpful to write down all your assets and your debts, like what you owe on credit cards, a mortgage or any outstanding loans.

The more information you can amass regarding the financial aspects of your relationship with your spouse, the better. Make copies of financial statements, including tax returns, bills you pay at your residence, any insurance payments you make, any pay stubs and the like. Using all this information may also help you to fashion a monthly budget for yourself and your kids.

Make note of when the separation formally begins

The formal date of when you and your spouse begin to live separate lives is important for a couple of reasons. It will be the marker for when you'll be able to get divorced since you'll have to have been living separate lives for at least one year. If you're unsure of the exact date, the time when you began to handle many of life's aspects on your own and not with your spouse is a good indication as is when you stared sleeping apart or moved out of the home you share, etc.

The divorce process can present many challenges and typically involves extensive planning beforehand. Obtaining legal counsel may help you move forward with such things as figuring out a parenting plan, how to separate your assets and how to address many of the debts you may have accumulated as a couple. There may also be important issues you've yet to consider that an experienced lawyer could bring to your attention.

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