Divorce Strategic Planning
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You have decided that you and your spouse will not be able to resolve your differences and divorce is inevitable. Now what? How do you strategically set yourself up for your separation or divorce process?
The decision to end a marriage or marriage-like relationship affects many aspects of your financial and personal life. A separation or divorce inevitably adds financial stress, legal stress and emotional stress. Planning your decisions carefully and discussing your legal and financial position with your advisers early on, and before you make any decisions with haste, can help you make informed decisions throughout the process.
Each separation and divorce involves a unique set of facts as every relationship is different. Your primary considerations upon making the decision to separate or divorce should include:
1. Will either you or your spouse stay in the family home after separation? If so, which of you will stay, which of you will move out? When will be the best time to move?
2. Which of your assets will be subject to division upon separation? Are any of your assets protected and excluded from division? How do you determine who gets what?
3. Do you have financial interests in an extended family business or trust that may be at risk? Can you protect these interests and the interests of your extended family?
4. Do you know what assets your spouse has? If not, how do you find out? How do you ensure that your spouse doesn’t hide, spend or transfer assets?
5. What about the children? How do you minimize impact on the children? Can you prepare the children in advance for the transition?
6. The Divorce Act says that each child should have as much contact with each spouse as is consistent with the best interests of the child, but what does this mean? I’ve also heard the new BC Family Law Act encourages equal and shared parenting, does this really mean 50/50 time or can it be different? How do you and your spouse determine what living arrangements are in the best interests of your children?
7. How will dividing the family assets affect your financial position and standard of living? How can you plan for the increased expenses of maintaining two households rather than one? Will you be entitled to receive or be responsible to pay any support amounts, child or spousal?
8. What about friends and extended family? How do you tell them? Will your social relationships change? How do you prepare for this?
9. Are there any other concerns that are prevalent on your mind that has influenced your decision to separate or divorce? Are you subject to emotional or physical abuse? Do you have other concerns or fears that are holding you back from moving forward and feeling empowered?
These are some of the key questions you need to consider with your advisors as you begin and advance through your separation or divorce. How you handle these matters, as well as any other matters that arise during your separation or divorce, will impact your future and the future of your family.