January is dubbed International Divorce Month because it’s a month where we see a sharp spike in families around the globe deciding to embark on their separation or divorce journey. I have a particular passion for talking with families in January each year because I believe that if families are contemplating this path, they ought to be as informed as possible.
I have created my Top 3 Tips for what to consider if you’re considering separation or divorce.
Tip #1 – Get as informed as you can prior to making your decision to separate
Once the decision to separate has been made, the ball can start rolling quickly, and sometimes decisions end up needing to be made without having the opportunity to think things through and consider all your options.
Here’s a few ways you can get informed:
- First, you may want to start learning about how your family finances work – if you don’t know much about what assets or debts you have, start looking into things. For our clients, we have a checklist of things to start gathering, and if decisions haven’t been made yet to separate, then there’s usually less of a feeling of a deadline to gather your documents.
- Second, you may want to look online for resources which will help you to navigate the separation or divorce waters. There’s tons of ways to learn online these days. Here’s a couple examples:
- One option for parents is to take the Parenting After Separation course. It’s a free online course and mandatory for most parents who are separating or divorcing in both Alberta or Saskatchewan. Taking the course early gets it out of the way, and has great information on how to create a strong foundation for your two-home parenting coming up.
- Another option is my e-learning platform called Healthy Thriving Family After Divorce, hosted by Up A Notch Learning which helps to empower separating and divorcing families with information. On our platform there’s tons of ways to learn – blogs, e-books, courses, interviews with professionals from around the world, a book club featuring authors of divorce books, and a list of over 80 book recommendations. There’s tons of free material on our site – check it out at https://upanotchlearning.com.
- Third way to get informed is to have a consultation with a lawyer or mediator who can help guide you in the early stages, and a lawyer can even meet with you in confidence prior to your separation to help you to be as prepared as possible for the decision you’re making.
Tip #2 – Think short term first
When you’re first separating, it’s best to avoid long-term, permanent decisions. I recommend that parents first focus on making short-term decisions around parenting to ensure that children keep as much stability, routine, and consistency as possible.
Usually these first discussions involve talking with the kids about the separation, and then coming up with a parenting schedule for how the children will continue to have a meaningful relationship with each parent.
Under the resources section of our website, we have great tools to create a parenting schedule on your own. Our viewers may be familiar with the Workbook that I use in a lot of my cases to help families work through these initial decisions together on their own.
Finances is another topic which needs to be worked out on a short-term, temporary basis – have a look at the monthly bills, and figure out a plan for who will pay for what for the short-term at least. Usually finances are a struggle at first because of the huge impact on families having to carry not only one set of household bills, but now having two households to finance.
Tip #3 – Take your time before making your decision to separate or divorce
Very often, once the decision is made to separate, it can be very difficult to undo. Before throwing around the big “d” word, make sure it’s really what you want. There’s a couple of really good books that I would like to recommend for people to look into which really help in this aspect.
First, The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work. The title of this book tells it all – it’s about not giving up, rather how to make it work. And it encourages the reader to look at how you conduct yourself in your relationship to either be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Second, Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay. This book is about getting off the fence, and either deciding to stay or to leave your relationship. It goes through a series of questions for you to self-assess whether you should stay or go. It’s point is that the state of “relationship ambivalence” can be a suffocating and difficult place to live.
Love these books!
Henka Divorce Law & Mediation is a Collaborative Law and Family Mediation firm that helps families thrive as they transition to separation, divorce, or cohabitation. Understanding that every journey is different, we guide families through the right legal or mediation process that fits their unique situation.
Our client service is built on three pillars – focusing on the future, nurturing and supporting children, and working together towards well-being. This includes considering everyone’s needs throughout the process. We work closely with families to provide a meaningful and fair resolution, while keeping costs down by staying out of court.
We serve families in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada through their separation or divorce by providing in-person and virtual Collaborative Law or Mediation services.
With extensive knowledge in matrimonial law, our founder Stephanie Dobson uses a caring, results-focused approach to help parents navigate a family separation or divorce while they connect with and support their children. Learn more about her approach and credentials.