Whether you are leaving an urgent situation, or have been considering divorce for a long time, there things you can do before you leave your marriage that will make it easier to separate in the long run.

The use of texts, emails, and Facebook posts as evidence, has become commonplace in family law negotiations and trials.  Sometimes one party does not even realize that their ex has been accessing their data until copies of their “private” conversations become evidence.

 1.Open a Post Office Box to receive mail (new credit card, legal correspondence etc.), until you obtain a new apartment of your own.

2.Create a new private email address, and change all of your on-line passwords (cell phone, Facebook, banking, email, etc.).  Purchase a new cell phone and get a new number on a separate account, if you can afford it.

Preparing for financial independence is crucial.  If you have money, or credit, accessible to you, you can use that to obtain new housing, transportation, pay for monthly costs, and  legal advice.  Having a credit track-record will also help if you need to qualify for a mortgage to buy out your current house or buy a new home.

3.If you do not already have a credit card in your (sole) name, apply for one with a low interest rate.

4.Put away money for living expenses and legal fees.  If you don’t have time to put aside money in advance, consider withdrawing some money from the family Line of Credit, or borrow money from extended family.

5.Make photocopies of your most recent bank account, investment and credit card statements.  Take copies of your most recent paystub, T1 General Tax Return and Notice of Assessments for yourself.  You will need these documents for your Financial Statement.  If you can, take photocopies of your spouse’s paystub and tax returns also-this will help verify their income.

6.Gather up your most important documents and identity cards  Passport(s), BC Services/Care Card, Status Card and Identification, bank and credit card(s), marriage certificate, birth certificate(s).  These apply to both yourself and your children.

Sometimes, for safety reasons, or for one’s own mental health, you have to leave your home when you leave your relationship.  While you may be able to negotiate the division of property in the home at a later date, it may cost you money to “fight” over key items.  In cases where there is a long time between separation and settlement, some people even forget what property they had when they left.

7.Collect all your medications and prescriptions, for yourself and your children.

8.If you have a family computer, download photographs and documents you would like to keep on to a memory card.

9.Round up the most significant personal items you wish to keep (jewelry, family heirlooms, sentimental items, clothing, excluded property).

10.Take photographs and make a list of your personal and marital property.

Leaving & Family Violence

These recommendations for what to do when you leave a relationship are guidelines, and should not be done at the expense of your personal safety.  If you are leaving an abusive relationship, consult with the Victoria Women’s Transition House for their 24-hour crisis line, and other support services.

In the event that you need to return to your home to retrieve items, safety can be enhanced by arranging a time when your ex-spouse is not home, and/or a time when you can have a friend or family member accompany you.  In some cases, the police can also attend the residence when you are there to gather up your property.

We recognize that not all people have the financial resources to follow these guidelines.  However, there are free services which can assist you with your separation and divorce.

Taking these steps before you leave your marriage* will save you time and money.

  • Following these suggestions will save you money because you won’t be paying for your lawyer to try get things for you after you’ve already left the home.
  • You will be in a stronger financial position to negotiate and mediate long term decisions about your future.
  • They will help prevent a potential negotiation or trial problem that could be created by a lack of privacy.
  • *These suggestions apply both to couples who are married or living together.

“All endings are also beginnings.  We just don’t know it at the time.”  Mitch Albom

Jayne Embree, M.A.

Jayne holds a Masters Degree in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist.  She is currently Mr. Butterfield’s Legal Assistant and the Mediation Coordinator at Butterfield Law.