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Planning Ahead for a Marital Separation

When contemplating a marital separation you need to plan ahead. The stress and bitterness of leaving can make decision making skills cloudy, leading to problems in the future. Planning ahead will reduce your stress and make a difficult situation more bearable.

Are you thinking of separating from your husband, wife or common law partner? Once you finally make the decision to end your relationship things will start happening so fast that it will be difficult to deal with issues as they come up, due to high emotions and stress. You need to make a plan with a clear head so you can deal with these difficulties as they occur. Separating from your spouse can be a very ugly process but with some careful planning, it can be a much smoother process. Things to plan for are:


Any children you and your partner are raising together need to be the first consideration in your planning. Whom will they be staying with? How are they going to be supported? How are they going to deal with this break up? We love our children dearly but none of us is perfect. When emotions are high and we are stressing to the max, it is hard to envision how they may be feeling. Separation is tough on children so we need to think about how to make it easier on them. Some things to consider that can make the journey into separation easier for children are the following:

  1. Sit down together and explain the separation in simple terms to your children.

    Both parents should keep their bitterness to themselves and be amicable. Reassure the children that both parents love them and it is not their fault. Children often blame themselves. Let your children express their fears and sadness then reassure them that mom and dad will both be there for them. Give the children as much information that concerns them as possible. With whom and where will they live? Will they be going to the same school? How often will they see each parent, etc? Information is very important to children, so they do not feel lost and confused.

  2. Don’t badmouth the other parent.

    It is so easy to let our bitterness and hurt get in the way of what is best for our children. Telling the children that it was mom or dad’s fault the relation is ending is detrimental to them and to you. It could damage the relationship the child has with you or the other parent. Badmouthing and pointing fingers can cause serious emotional difficulties for the children. Another big consideration is that courts frown highly on this type of behaviour and will hold it against you in any custody disputes. Never make the other parent look bad to the kids because no one will benefit.

  3. Carefully consider your custody arrangements.

    If possible, a shared custody arrangement is ideal for the kids. They get equal time with each parent, which is fairer to them, and to each parent. It is hard to give up your child for a week at a time but imagine how much harder it would be to see your child only every other weekend. To make this arrangement work, parents need to live close to each other so the children can attend the same school. Both parents need to be civil with each other in the children’s company and be able to work out any difficulties that may arise in the arrangement. Sharing custody benefits both the children and parents but sometimes impossible. Often a parent needs to relocate due to finances or family support. Some parents think the idea is perfect because no support is paid. This is not true. There are support guidelines set out but they may be difficult to calculate on your own. The courts want the children to live with equal comfort in each home.

Living Arrangements

Where are you going to live? Who gets to keep the house? Usually it’s the wife who gets to stay in the marital home but if you are in a common law relationship, you are not necessary entitled to your partners assets without a fight. Therefore, if the house is in your partner’s name, you can probably start packing your bags. I do not know all the legalities so I will not go into legal details here. In this area, each individual needs to do his or her own research.

If you will be the one moving out, have you secured a place to live? Do you have the money to pay first and last months rent? You may live in an area where getting an apartment is simple or an area where there are none to be found. You do not want to be stuck living with your ex after you have broken up. Living with your ex can be very uncomfortable and potentially explosive. I cannot stress enough how important it is to sort out your living arrangements before you decide to separate.

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