The last week of moving mayhem has taught me that planning any major change is so important. Although we had planned our move, there were still unexpected problems that came up. We were able to solve those problems, but had we not had a plan, things would have been much more stressful.
If planning was important for an office move, it is all the more important for spouses contemplating separation. For some people, separation from one’s spouse truly comes as a surprise. In those cases, planning would obviously be impossible. However, for the vast majority of cases, a separation is something that is contemplated over some time. In those cases, it is important to start planning for the separation before it actually happens.
By planning, I do not mean “planning” to cheat your spouse. What I mean by “planning” is to develop a plan of action for an orderly separation. Often, this may involve the following:
- Turning one’s mind to what would be appropriate and fair in a separation agreement.
- Assessing one’s financial situation in the event of a separation
- Determining one’s financial need in the event of a separation
- Determining how and when to advise children of the separation of their parents
- Determining how to ascertain children’s wishes for life after separation
- Negotiating a parenting plan
The above is not an exhaustive list, but these and other issues are all things that a trained legal professional could assist with.
The problem with not having a plan is that it may lead to significant problems in the future. For example, I have had several clients come see me urgently because their real estate lawyer required them to have independent legal advice from a family lawyer before the real estate lawyer agreed to transfer one spouse’s half of the house to the other. In one case, I advised the client that she might forego a significant equalization payment if she proceeded with the transaction. This would not have happened had a separation agreement been negotiated first before the real estate transaction.
Planning is essential for an orderly separation. Spending the money on lawyers earlier rather than later often leads to better results and decreased costs. Fixing mistakes afterwards is much more complicated and costly than getting it right from the beginning. While planning will not solve all problems, in most cases, it works and is a good way to reduce your costs and keep things amicable!