Our Vancouver Divorce and Family Lawyers firmly believe what you do prior to separation or divorce can put you in a favourable position.
If you feel you want to separate or file for your divorce but don’t know what to do next or how to put yourself in a favourable position, call our experienced Vancouver Divorce and Family Law lawyers today for your free consultation at 604 620 8682. We are here to help you with your BC Divorce or Family Law proceedings.
Here are few things we suggest you do before you file for divorce or start your family case in court:
1. Speak with a divorce and family lawyer.
Speaking with a divorce and family lawyer at the outset will allow you to know what your rights and obligations are and how to protect your interests to the greatest extend possible. Your lawyer can also provide you with a list of documents you need to gather and a cost estimate. Often it is easier to prepare and gather documents before you have separated. If you need to find out who is the best family and divorce lawyer check our blog post titled “Who is the best Vancouver Lawyer for your Case”.
2. Know your financial situation before divorce.
You need to know what your income is and what your spouse’s income is. Make a list of all the assets that are in your name and in your spouse’s name. Prepare a list of debts that are in your name and in your spouse’s name. Find out how much debt you personally have, how much your spouse’s has, and how much joint debt you have. Find out the approximate value of the properties in your name, in your spouse’s name, or in your joint names. Gather and keep supporting documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, proof of ownership of assets.
A. Financial Disclosure
In a typical divorce of family law proceeding the followings are commonly disclosed at the first stage:
a) bank accounts and credit card statements for the past 3 years (whether held in your name solely, jointly with the other spouse, or jointly with third parties)
b) tax returns and notices of assessment and re-assessment, if available, for the past three years
c) proof of ownership of assets in your name or in your spouse’s name
d) copies of applications for credit cards, bank loans, or mortgages
e) property assessment notices
However, the disclosure is certainly more onerous, if corporations are involved or you or your spouse is claiming certain assets are excluded property. The party who claims exclusion has onus of proving it. To clarify, if you want to claim an exclusion you need to gather all the documents demonstrating when the property was obtained and the source of funds for that property was your excluded property.
We recommend you speak with a divorce or family lawyer and ask for a list of documents that you need to obtain in advance of separating or divorce.
3. Get your affairs in order.
Be proactive about updating wills, estate planning, refinancing or taking care of other financial transactions before filing for divorce. Sometimes, when divorce proceedings are started in British Columbia the other party may apply to court on a without notice basis and ask for a financial restraining order. If granted, this means that your bank accounts may be frozen.
4. Keep some money aside.
Depending on the complexity of your case, divorce of family law proceedings can be fairly expensive. Keep money aside to support yourself until matters related to child support or spousal support are sorted out. Keep in mind that you are probably going from a household with two incomes to one with only one income. Make sure you have set enough money aside to pay your day to day living expenses and your legal fees. In some cases, you may be able to ask the court for cash advance to fund your legal case. Discuss with your lawyer if getting a cash advance would be an option.
5. Keep a journal.
If parenting arrangements or custody are at stake, or domestic/family violence is an issue, keep a journal. In your journal set out the level of your involvement with your children and your spouse’s lack of involvement. You can also add to your journal: relevant emails and text messages, calendars showing activities with your children, and the one’s that your spouse’s missed. If family violence is an issue, make sure to include relevant incidents in your journal as well.
6. Avoid social media.
Social media has become a great evidence gathering tool in divorce and family law proceedings. If you cannot close your social media accounts, make sure not to post:
- derogatory comments about your spouse on social media
- inflammatory comments about your spouse’s girlfriend/boyfriend on social media
- any pictures or comments relation to you drinking or partying
Whatever you post on social media may be used against you in your divorce of family law proceedings. If you delete your social media posts, the other side may argue that you have destroyed evidence. Therefore, it is best to not delete anything right before filing for your divorce of family law proceedings.