I must admit I am still a bit surprised when I meet with clients and discover how much of their thought processes are based on erroneous information that has been given to them by well-intentioned friends or family members or the internet. If you are contemplating getting a divorce or have already made that decision, it is imperative that you obtain accurate information on your legal rights and responsibilities. While the divorce process itself is governed by federal legislation, there are aspects of your divorce, such as how to deal with your property that are governed by provincial legislation and differ between provinces. You may be doing a lot of research on the internet and learning about divorce from another country or other provinces that may not be applicable in your situation. One client thought that he would not have to pay spousal support because his wife had an affair. Another client thought if she moved out of the matrimonial home that she would no longer have any legal right to the home. There are so many more examples of this.
One source of accurate information is a lawyer that specializes in divorce and family law. However, since much of the law is actually case made law (coming from decisions that judges make) you could go to 10 different lawyers and get ten different answers. One of the reasons my clients choose mediation and collaborative divorce is to avoid the uncertainty of a litigated divorce. With both mediation and collaborative divorce, the clients themselves make their own decisions rather than having a judge impose a decision upon them. The clients take responsibility for restructuring their lives and their family and make decisions that will work best for their unique family situation. To do this requires accurate information, so I advise to get that as soon as possible, before you spend a lot of time and money and effort planning around something that simply is not true. I always advise my mediation clients to obtain independent legal advice prior to beginning the mediation process. Like any well planned journey, it is always a good idea to do some research and gather factual information. It is also a good idea to talk to those that may have traveled down the path you are heading, a family law lawyer is one of those travelers from which to seek guidance.