Our Ontario family lawyers have compiled a list of common mistakes separating spouses and partners tend to make before getting independent legal advice. If you are separating from your spouse, be aware of these common pitfalls to avoid unnecessary litigation and additional legal costs.
Do not leave the family home unless there is a risk of harm to you or your children.
Leaving the family home could potentially hurt your claim to an interest in the home. The only reason to leave the home is if you fear for your safety, or if you think your spouse will allege that you have assaulted them.
Do not threaten or become violent with your spouse.
Committing acts of violence (physical or psychological) can impact your claim to the matrimonial home and to having custody of and access to your children. You will also need to retain a criminal lawyer, thereby increasing your legal costs.
Do not involve your children in the conflict.
Avoid arguing or discussing details of your separation in front of the children. Do not use the children as messengers between you and your spouse.
Do not interfere with established parent-child relationships.
You should encourage access between your children and the other parent unless there is a risk of harm. At the same time, do not abandon your children; establish your intention to have custody or access from the point of separation.
Do not change the financial status quo.
Depleting joint bank accounts and abusing joint credit accounts are deemed to be “unconscionable” acts and the court can resort to punitive measures against you.
Do not cut off your spouse financially.
If your spouse is financially dependent, ensure that you act reasonably when it comes to sharing resources. If your spouse makes a successful claim for child and/or spousal support, that order can be retroactive, and would force you to pay support for the months before the order was made.
Do not resort to airing your grievances on social media.
Information posted in public forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used against you. Further, making disparaging comments about your former spouse can create an awkward situation for mutual contacts, which can include your children and their friends, at a time when you need support.
Do not sign any documents or agree to anything without speaking to a lawyer.
It is crucial that you understand your rights and obligations before negotiating a settlement with your spouse. An experienced Ontario separation lawyer can advise you so you make informed decisions.
Do not make any large purchases until you have a signed separation agreement or court order; doing so will have an impact on your overall financial obligation.
This includes the purchase of a new home, a new or used car, or even a vacation.
Do not dispose of any property or assets or attempt to change ownership on assets that would be considered property accumulated during the marriage.
If you are caught doing this, it will damage your credibility with the court.
Looking for more tips and insight? Interested in retaining a lawyer to handle your case? Call Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. at (905) 581-7222 to get started.