If your spouse just asked for a divorce and you were not expecting it, it can feel like a dump truck has hit you emotionally. It is important that you take some time to emotionally process what has happened. From a lawyer’s perspective, these are the steps you should take if your spouse has asked you for a divorce:
- Have a Consult with Lawyer: Your first step should be making an appointment to consult with a lawyer. During this consultation, the lawyer can go over some items of importance and help you map out a process for moving forward including:
- Going over your potential rights and obligations with regard to support, property division, the matrimonial home, and issues about the parenting of children;
- Letting you know what documentation you need to start to gather such as income tax returns, paystubs, proof of assets/debts on date of separation and date of marriage;
- Informing you of the pros/cons and potential costs of various settlement processes such as kitchen-table agreement, mediation, collaborative, cooperative, and court as a last resort.
If you are comfortable with the lawyer you meet with you can hire him/her right away, or in the future, to represent you in the various legal issues arising from your separation.
- Avoid Bad-Mouthing Your Spouse to your Children and/or Social Media: Regardless of the circumstances of your separation, it is always better to take the high-road no matter how difficult that may be. You shouldn’t say negative things about your spouse to your children for a few reasons such as:
- Such behaviour can damage your children emotionally and mentally;
- Such behaviour can damage your legal case when it comes to parenting issues such as custody/access; and
- You will likely regret such behaviour in the future.
You also shouldn’t say negative things about your spouse on social media. Such things can be used against you as evidence in court. Further, your children may see such posts one day, and again, you will likely regret such behaviour in the future.
- Hire a counsellor, therapist or psychologist: Going through a separation or divorce will be one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging things you will experience. You should hire a counsellor, therapist or psychologist that you are comfortable with to discuss your thoughts and feelings throughout this and help you process them. The sooner you do this, the better it is for yourself and your children, and it will help you better participate in the legal process. The less emotions play into making legal decisions, the better those decisions will be and you will likely pay less legal fees as you will be more focused on the issues, and not on the negative and stressful emotions you have experienced as a result of the separation.