For more than two decades Lorisa Stein, an experienced family law lawyer practicing in Ontario, has listened to her clients express their needs and wishes as they journey through life. Embarking on a new relationship, taking their marriage vows of facing the sometimes challenging path of separation and divorce her clients have appreciated Lorisa’s direct approach and carefully considered advice. She shares with you more maxims worth a moment to reflect upon.

1. Wait for the Emotional Fog to dissipate. What you want may right now whilst in the emotional fog of the breakdown of the relationship may look very differently than what you need for your future ahead. Whether you instigated the separation or just received the news, the shock and loss of the relationship, the unknown life ahead and the grieving you are experiencing should all send you the same message: now is not the time to make decisions about your family or give instructions to your professional advisors. Your history is unique to you; the experience of separating is a one you’ll share with those in your strong supportive network. Allow yourself some time to heal and let the fog clear.

2. Own your actions (and failure to act). If you came into your relationship or marriage with significant assets and failed to protect them with a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract, you may find yourself sharing the value of those assets upon separation. The decision not to do anything cannot be parlayed into asserting that somehow your spouse or partner is to blame for your failure to act.

3. Get regular professional when you are thinking about a change in your domestic relationships. It should be as natural as changing out your snow tires in the spring or having a regular health exam. Designate the anniversary date of the domestic contract you signed as the time to review its terms by yourself and with your spouse to partner. Are the contents still relevant to your current financial circumstances? Any terms in need of revision? Buy one hour of time with your own professional advisors and get their opinion as to whether your rights and obligations have changed and the document needs revisiting.

4. Speak up for what you want. A family law lawyer provides confidential legal advice independent of your spouse or partner. That advice should include a review of the risks and benefits, rights and obligations, options and duties of your unique circumstances. If you aren’t pressing for what you want to achieve, the legal advice may be useless to you. Unless there is a valid Power of Attorney in place, a committee of advisors accompanying you to the lawyer’s office will be asked to wait in the reception area. Their voice isn’t your voice. Come prepared with your list of questions, issues you want to discuss, perhaps a timetable if there are any pressing obligations, and most certainly a wish list. All the desired items may not be achievable but the list is a great place to start the conversation.

5. The facts matter – a lot. While it may be easier to provide the information you think will be more advantageous to your position or you believe your lawyer wants to hear, you’d be wasting your money. Facts supported by original or source documents are of great value to laying out the ownership of assets and debts and demonstrating what decisions were made by whom and when. Develop charts to show payments of child support and parenting timetables based on the facts. Provide copies of corporate financial documents to demonstrate the income splitting resulted in the actual transfer of funds into the spouse’s bank account. After all, “the truth of the story lies in the details” Paul Auster, The Brookline Follies

To learn more about family law issues, please contact Lorisa Stein directly

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