Being ready to decide and choosing to separate is difficult and emotional. Readiness means you have accepted that your relationship is no longer viable and can’t be ‘fixed’. You are self-aware how that emotional roller-coaster can hijack logical thinking and you’ve taken steps to manage your grief and start the process of addressing your future. Only one married spouse needs to come to that conclusion-there doesn’t need to be an agreement. Common law spouses aren’t held to the same standard as married couples; permanently terminating cohabitation is a sufficient yet harsh declaration to the other that the relationship is at an end. The decision to acknowledge the breakdown of your relationship has rippling effects through your personal, professional, and social circles. Does your spouse’s ownership role in the family business require a revision to the shareholder agreement? How will you come to an agreement about a child-focused parenting arrangement? What are the factors supporting or challenging a claim for spousal support? How will the family house be used in the interim before the final agreement is signed? The process to identify and resolve the legal issues arising from the separation can be focused and principled or conflict-ridden and contentious. Set your intentions and reasonable expectations. Define how you want to reach a durable, mutually beneficial agreement. Assert your core values of fairness, transparency, reasonableness, and respect. Choosing your Lawyer Take a moment and reflect on instances where you have been targeted with aggressive sales tactics. The verbal assault leaves you feeling harassed and your reaction is mistrust. The natural response is to step away and find someone who exhibits an authentic interest and empathy for your situation. That is no different than when you are separating. The lawyer who advocates well for her client does so with assertiveness, empathy, and effective problem-solving skills. Choosing your approach Social science research shows that spouses who cared about each other at the outset of the relationship need to pay attention to the other’s needs at the end of the relationship too. Assertively addressing what is important to you and ensuring those concerns are being heard and understood by the other is half the riddle. What matters to your spouse also impacts the final resolution and whether that agreement is perceived as successful by both negotiating parties. Failing to assert your concerns in a non-threatening way to your spouse causes you to feel resentment and that you could have done better. Family law issues are often interconnected and involve both of you on many levels. Separation refocuses what is important to you, how it impacts your future, and how you want to preserve the past. Separation Agreement & Family Law Lawyer in Toronto Deciding to separate affects the entire family, and you will want an experienced professional at your side to negotiate and assist you through the process. Lorisa Stein is an experienced senior family law lawyer based in downtown Toronto, Ontario. She has utilized the collaborative process to help professionals and family business owners resolve their legal matters during separation. To learn more about separation agreements, please view our blogs. To schedule a confidential consultation with Lorisa, contact her through her website or call her direct line at (416) 596-8081.