4 Dos and Don’ts for a Separation and Divorce

Written by Allison R. McAlpine

Unfortunately, you and your married spouse, or common-law spouse, have decided to separate and/or divorce. Regardless if you initiated the separation or not, you are more than likely going to experience a process of grief and an emotional roller coaster.   This can result in some bad initial decision-making. Below are our top 4 Dos and Don’ts for a Separation and Divorce lawyers Barrie that we have learned in our combined 20 years of practicing family law.


  1. Do get counselling. A counsellor can help you through the grieving process and help you with the emotional side of the separation/divorce process, which in turn will help you make better, logical decisions regarding the parenting and financial issues you will have to make.
  2. Do hire a lawyer.   Family law is complicated. A lawyer can provide you with advice on the various legal issues in your matter, discuss resolution options that meet your needs, and ensure that any agreement you and your spouse enter into is a legally binding document.
  3. Do exchange financial disclosure. Exchanging income tax returns for the last three years, current income and proof of assets and debts on date of separation (and date of marriage/cohabitation) will ensure that your lawyer can provide you with advice regarding the financial issues in your matter, and will also limit the possibility that the separation agreement is set aside by a Court.
  4. Do try to resolve your matter outside of Court if possible using alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation, lawyer-negotiation, and collaborative processes.  Court is expensive, driven by delay, and takes the decision-making for you and your family out of your hands and into the hands of a complete stranger.



  1. Don’t talk badly about the other parent to your children. Children love both of their parents and have a right to have a relationship with each parent. Talking badly about the other parent to your children can have long-lasting negative emotional effects for them.
  2. Don’t draft a separation agreement yourself without the assistance of a lawyer. Homemade separation agreements (e.g., separation agreements off the internet) prepared without independent legal advice can be easily set aside by a court (i.e., are not usually legally binding).
  3. Don’t move out of the house until speaking with a lawyer and obtaining advice. Prematurely moving out of the house can affect various rights and obligations.
  4. Don’t engage in conflict with your spouse. Do not engage in physical violence, name-calling, bullying or intimidation with your spouse as engaging in any of these forms of conflict will negatively affect your children, your ability to parent with your spouse, and can affect various issues in the case.   Taking the high ground and being respectful with your spouse is always the best option.

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