When reconciliation is no longer an option: If you’re still considering trying to make your marriage work; work on it! If you know separation is the only option, share your decision with your spouse in a letter or email. In Canada this date starts the countdown for the one year period prior to applying for a divorce. It may also be the date, with the date of marriage, on which the value of all property of each spouse is calculated and divided. When emotions have settled: You’ll need a rational logical mind to navigate any process and to be able to instruct your family law lawyer. Looking to the future while being mindful of business decisions during this period of transition. Being self-aware to how you deal with conflict – recognizing your emotional frame of reference – and your impact at work, at the dinner table, and at the negotiation table. Who you become during this stressful time will influence how others respond to your initiatives and any change in direction. Check in with yourself and be open to taking some time to collect your thoughts. Before you become entrenched that your way is the only way: It’s easier to be curious, ask questions, and gather factual information than to back your way out of a deep hole. Patience and energy enrich the collaborative and mediation process. There is time to allow both spouses to be heard and to process what they hear. The mediator or facilitator needs to learn each spouse’s history and desires for the future. Trust may be slow to build and with small gains, the momentum encourages settlement. Before you invest a lot of money: Keep your private family matters out of public view. Going to court is wildly expensive and supports an unyielding legal model. Results are unpredictable. In either the collaborative or mediation paths, creative options reveal new ideas. New ideas proffer successful durable separation agreements. After you seek legal advice: You’ll need to get information about your rights and obligations up front before commencing any style of negotiation. Understanding the full scope of what you’re entitled to as part of your settlement package and what you may owe in terms of support or a lump sum property settlement are critical. You’ll also learn more about the differences and similarities of the ’interest-based’ collaborative and mediation styles of dispute resolution. When expectations are reasonable: Your settlement is unique to your family. Your future dreams are yours to accomplish. Unbridled expectations will fast become false leads. Retaining the same business and property valuators: Retaining joint advisors commits each spouse to eliminate the ‘war of the experts’. Tax consequences of each facet of the settlement may open up new options and a neutral advisor will examine the scenario from each spouse’s viewpoint. Don’t forget to factor in the economic impact of time away from work to manage time spent on document production and negotiation meetings. Issues arising upon separation can be complex impacting the whole family. To learn more about different interest-based dispute resolution styles, contact Lorisa Stein directly at 416 596-8081 or use the Contact Page at LorisaStein.com to send her a confidential message. Lorisa will reply to you at her earliest opportunity.