Keep everyone out: Remind yourself of that universal proverb: good fences make good neighbors. No pre-selection of who will be brought into your inner circle once the divorce has been granted and no sharing your story with your spouse’s employer, best friend and sports friends. Privacy prevents the wrong message circulating and respects relationships. Appropriate financial disclosure: What’s relevant will be disclosed with proper accompanying statements, records, tax returns, and other necessary documentation. Looking to “level the playing field” by hiding an asset now means the emotional and financial cost to negotiate the separation agreement today will be thrown away when the contract is later challenged. Keep copies of all documents provided and of those received from your spouse. Pick your fights carefully: ‘Getting your day in court’ on a principle you’ve been harbouring for just this moment will have a judge awarding costs against you. The court isn’t in the business of vindication or fixing your life. It will be weighing the evidence presented by each spouse under oath relating to the custody and residence of the children; disposition of the matrimonial homes; property division including business and professional interests; and child and spousal support. Honour your children‘s other parents: The natural or adoptive parent, the grandparents, stepparent, the mentors, favourite sitters and others who have stepped in the role of a parent to help your kids thrive are important people in your child’s life. Alienating these role models and family members ensures that you alienate your own child. Keep agreed visits punctual and the kids prepared. Thank people for expressing their concerns and your fences intact. Plan for your life to be disrupted: Whether you are considering the collaborative path or more public avenues to resolve your family problems, your routine will be disrupted. Plan on meetings with your lawyer, calls with property valuators, conferences with teachers and any other professional linked with your children’s needs, your financial circumstances, and your future dreams. Allow sufficient lead time: To keep frustration, anxiety and temper in check know that a pension valuation takes ~ 60 days, a court ordered child assessment ~ 6 months, a business valuation ~3 to 6 months depending on the scope and complexity, a court battle in the range of ~12 to 30 months. Resist creating trauma: It may be very difficult to keep family routines working efficiently when your economic reality shifts, the emotional pain stings, and the children look lost. The school play goes on. The university applications are filled out. The soccer matches will be won and lost. Own your decisions: Your family law lawyer explains the law as it applied to your unique situation. She will outline the benefits and risks, time limitations, costs, impact of start dates and other legal issues as they arise. You are the sole decision maker of your future. Take responsibility for your choices made in the past. Focus on the resolutions to restore respect, trust and relationships. To review your circumstances whether traumatic or uneventful in a family law context and receive sound legal advice, please contact Lorisa Stein through the contact page or by calling her at 416 595-8081, her direct line.