Generally, it is a good idea to meet with a lawyer as early in the process as possible. It is important that you are informed about your legal rights and responsibilities regardless of which dispute resolution process you ultimately decide to pursue.
A common mistake made by divorcing and separating people is to first separate, then seek legal advice. We recommend speaking to a Nanaimo family law lawyer before you separate, so that you may properly prepare for all the rights and obligations triggered on the separation date (i.e. the determination of rights and responsibilities towards shared debt, children, and dependent spouses).
Whether or not you move out of the family home, and whether or not the children move with you, can have a significant impact on the extent to which you are able to participate in parenting. In the immediate aftermath of the separation, the other parent may attempt to deny you time with your children out of anger or fear. Months can then go by where your time with your children is restricted as you attempt to negotiate all of the issues that must be resolved between yourself and your former spouse. In some cases, the impact on the parenting arrangement can be permanent.
The division of assets can also be complicated if you move out before seeking legal advice. For example, it is typically easiest to gather all of the financial information you will require to value assets and debts while you are still in the home. Similarly, it can be far easier to negotiate who will be responsible for which debts before you move or your spouse moves. A worst case scenario, which happens more frequently that you may expect, is that the departing spouse is expected to continue to pay the entirety of the mortgage and expenses on the family home - while also paying child support and their own living expenses.
Speaking to a lawyer before you leave does not mean that you will escalate the conflict with your spouse. In many cases, it can help you plan together for your mutual parenting and financial obligations, and help connect you with appropriate experts to assist in the process.
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