Preparing for Divorce and Separation

Coley Hennessy Cassis Ewasko

Pre-divorce or pre-separation planning will make the divorce or separation run more smoothly and provide you with an extra layer of protection in the event of litigation. Working with our Edmonton family lawyers can help you understand the best to approach for a divorce or separation in Alberta. Doing so can save you considerable money in the long run.

Preparation Question & Answer

What Do I Do About Family Finances?

Review all monthly bank statements and brokerage statements, credit card statements, property assessments, and keep a copy of these documents in a secured location. Give copies of necessary documents to your lawyer for safekeeping. In the event there is a dispute you will have documents supporting any claims you may need to make.

Separation generally causes immediate economic hardship. Put away cash or keep money in traveler’s checks in order to be able to purchase personal necessities in the event of a divorce. Do not create any additional debts and make no large purchases such as a new boat or car. Keep your assets as liquid as possible.

How Should I Handle my Taxes?

Review all tax returns that have been filed by you and your spouse. Demand an explanation as to any item, which may be questionable before signing, and make exhaustive notes regarding them. Do not sign anything you do not agree to make complete copies of tax returns for the last several years. Be certain that all taxes owed to the Federal Government or other taxing agencies are paid to date. Make a copy of any outstanding assessments.

How Do I Handle Assets?

Do not transfer, sign, or make a gift of marital assets in joint names. Credit cards in joint names may discourage large personal purchases by one party and subsequently you should consider cancelling any non-essential shared account to prevent large purchases by your spouse or partner without your permission.

Prepare a complete list of all assets in your name and your spouse’s. These documents will be useful if you ever file for divorce. Include whether the assets are held individually or jointly and the source of the assets, whether inherited, gifted, or in the name of a third party on your behalf. It is important to determine whether the assets were acquired prior to or during the marriage. Make copies of any documents which show the details and values of all assets and debts.

How Do I Handle Loans?

Review and make copies of all loan documents, mortgage applications, and financial statements. Prepare a complete list of all debts or obligations including credit cards, notes, mortgages, etc. Identify each debts, when it was incurred and the reason for the debt. Identify who has been making payments on them, as well as the monthly or annual amounts. Be sure that your automobile is in good working condition and that it is titled jointly or in your sole name.

Do not quit work if you are employed. It is important to secure your future financial independence and earn enough to maintain assets such as your home and car.

How Do I Handle my Business (if applicable)?

Be familiar with your spouse or partners’s business interests. Become involved and be aware of financial information regarding the business by getting full information on the business, including bank documents, loan applications, corporate tax returns and financial statements. Make copies of all documents and store them somewhere secure, like with your lawyer.

How Do I Handle Pensions?

Obtain copies of your pension plan and your spouse’s also with any yearly statements and determine when they vest and benefits become payable, ask for the plan booklets and latest contribution statements. These documents will be useful if you file for divorce. Obtain Canada Pension Plan statements.

How Do I Handle my Will or Trust?

Obtain copies of any wills or trust agreements and be involved in any estate planning. Keep all inheritances separate from the marital estate. Do not put an inheritance into joint names and do not use proceeds to pay for family expenses or purchases or to pay down debts.

Should I move out of My Home?

Do not move out of your residence (in the event you are cohabiting) without first discussing it with your lawyer. In many cases doing so can have a negative effect on the terms of your separation.

How Should I Handle My Mail?

Review all mail coming into your house and make a list of the sender and return address. It is very important to know the address of stockbrokers, insurance companies, credit issuers, banks, and revenue properties. Open document addressed to you only and make copies if they are important.

Have your personal mail, but none of your co-addressed mail, sent to an address other than your shared residence for your privacy and to ensure that you receive it. File a change of address notice with the post office.

What About Shared Insurance?

Review and make copies of all insurance policies relating to the matrimonial residence furnishings, or other assets. This should include any jewelry, silverware, or other valuable. Make copies of any appraisal that have been prepared. These documents will be useful if you file for divorce in BC.

Additional Suggestions

Signatures & Agreements

Do not sign any financial statements if blank. Know what you are signing and always keep a copy.

Medical & Dental

Have a complete medical and dental check up. Be sure that you have medical and dental insurance (if available) in the event of separation.

Call Today: Divorce & Separation Representation

In one of the most difficult times, we offer legal advice and representation that can allow you to feel confident and take control. Whether you and your former partner decide to settle matters out of court, or your Divorce or Separation must be decided in court, the lawyers at Coley Hennessy Cassis Ewasko will serve your best interests and get your matters resolved quickly and fairly. Call us today and ask about a free consultation. 1-780-800-7623.