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Top 10 reasons to get legal advice about your risks if you are planning to separate or are separated from your spouse:
- You and your co-parent may have different perspectives about what is best for your children. Disagreements about parenting after separation are harmful to your children. Mediation or Collaboration are two choices that can help families keep their integrity, manage their conflict and give them control of their decisions.
- You and your spouse may have different perspectives about how you will each have sufficient income to pay your children’s and your own living expenses in each of your homes.
- The values of assets and debts change over time.
- The Matrimonial Property Act is the law in Alberta about dividing assets and debts between married spouses. It states the date for valuing assets is the date you are conducting your negotiations or at trial. It is not the date of separation or the date you file for divorce. It is a moving target.
- There is no written down law in Alberta for dividing assets and debts between common-law spouses. The complex legal principles that apply are contained in many previously decided cases that went to court to deal with this question.
- There are written rules in Alberta requiring both spouses to exchange full financial disclosure to each other and their lawyers if they are represented. Financial disclosure means all information either of you have about what you own, owe, earn and spend, no matter who owns it, owes it, earns it or spends it. There is no financial privacy between separating spouses and the rules enforce this.
- You and your spouse may have verbal agreements about some or all of the parenting, income, expense and dividing assets and debts questions. Perspectives about what might or might not work may change over time and verbal agreements may or may not last. In some areas your agreements will meet the legal tests and in some cases your agreements may be outside of the framework of what the law would enforce.
- During separation, the value of assets or debts can increase or decrease. With the passage of time people acquire new assets or debts or have changes in their income and expenses. It is always more expensive to have two homes. These changes are all subject to laws about allocating income and expenses and dividing assets and debts.
- The more time passes, the greater the risk is as your lives move apart, you may lose important documents you need to make good decisions, you forget information important to consider in making good decisions and you and your spouse take one-sided actions that don’t work for the other person or your children. Through Mediation and Collaboration separating couples are able to settle their differences as well as protect what matters most to them – their children, property and finances.
- A skilled Family Law lawyer can provide you with legal and practical advice about your choices for making effective, informed decisions when you need to consider your children, your finances and your assets and debts. Getting information about finding positive and practical ways to solve your family’s problems as early as possible in your separation can help you get through the shockwaves from a breakup earthquake. With the right support and skills, families can calm and reduce the damages of a breakup earthquake and support the healthy development of their children.