New to Divorce
We would love to be able to personally respond to all the requests for help and information we receive, but we simply do not have the resources at this time to cope with the volume of calls and emails we receive. We have instead prepared this information sheet for you, which is periodically updated by divorce community volunteers to reflect additional data or new questions.
Many questions that we receive come from psychologically distraught fathers or mothers (and even sometimes children) newly entering into the divorce realm who feel totally alone and socially isolated, all the more so if they find themselves without financial resources and legal representation.
Our community experience has taught us that divorce has the same characteristics as any major emotional calamity in life and we all have to go through the same emotional stages on our way back to wellness.
ECMAS believes that, in most cases, the BEST parent is BOTH parents.
Keeping children away from one parent or the other only makes things more difficult for all involved.
Every child should have access to the love and nurturing of both parents and their extended families on both sides.
If you are new to divorce...
We hope the following common sense aids, based on the experiences of thousands, will serve to guide you:
- You are not alone 72,000 divorces occur annually in Canada.
- The law is only a fraction part of a divorce, makes one wonder why lawyers make most of the costs for divorcees.
- If you need to resort to a lawyer or other professional, they need to propose a plan of approach, and a budget. A professional who cannot tell you what the minimum, average or maximum charges can be does not know his/her business.
- Not all divorces are hell up to 70% of divorces are resolved relatively amicably. 5-30% are adversarial but are eventually resolved out of court. About 10 % do go to trial and those are often the most adversarial.
- Remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if the tunnel seems to be growing longer.
- Don't damage the kids!Divorce is traumatic for children and can scar them for life. Explain what is happening; give your child lots of love; NEVER bad-mouth your spouse in front of your child, no matter what! Remember that children need both parents so work it out with your spouse to maintain regular contact with the child(ren). And yes, in some cases this is much easier said than done. Never use access to your child as a bargaining tool!
- Avoid court if at all possible. Every dollar spent on lawyers is one less dollar for both of you and the children. Not all lawyers are actually bad, but lawyers are expensive and sometimes do not do what they are supposed to do. Courts dispense Law, not Justice - never forget this crucial difference! And yes, if you are a male, the ugly statistical reality is that the Family Courts are horribly biased to the point of being dysfunctional - the institutional failure of family courts comes as a shock to all who enter the system!
- Resolve issues yourself, if not possible Mediate, arbitrate and only litigate as a last resource! Litigation is not the only option! Insist on exploring other avenues first: yourself, coaching by groups like ECMAS, collaborative law, mediation, arbitration and negotiation.
- Your accountant is your best buddy. If you have any assets, finding a good accountant can be just as crucial as retaining a good lawyer. Many lawyers are numerically challenged and not well versed in divorce tax implications, by their own admission. Use your accountant to prepare accounting and net worth information for equalization and support and to recommend settlement.
- Love yourself. This is the hardest one. Don't blame yourself about the divorce. Divorce, like accidents, happens. It takes two for a relationship breakdown. You will discover you are the wonderful person you always knew you were, perhaps much to your amazement!
- Take care of yourself. The stresses and strains of a divorce can often bring physical affects and symptoms that you may not notice at first. Sleeplessness, altered eating habits and raised blood pressure are all things you should be aware of. Talk to your doctor about effective non-medical and medical steps you can take to help minimize the ill effects that extended stress can have on your body and mind.
- Educate yourself. Many of the rules and laws, federal, provincial and rules of civil procedure that your case will be subject to are available online. In order to assess the caliber of legal advice received, you should educate yourself. Remember though, the law is written in its own language called legalese, where words may have a different meaning in law than you might expect.
DISCLAIMER: Any comments and suggestions made herein should not be construed as legal advice. We are not lawyers, and offer the following suggestions only as general guidance on specific issues, based on accumulated experience in the divorce community. Every case has its unique characteristics, so some of the following advice may not apply. Every case has general characteristics, however, and we hope the following suggestions serve to point you in the right direction.
EDUCATE YOURSELF! It will save you large sums of money and will prevent you to go down a path you do not want. Do not just rely on your lawyer, or hear say. Educate yourself.
If you have to go to court, ALWAYS attend, even if you lawyer says you do not need to (fire your lawyer if he/she says you do not need to) . ALWAYS attend.