Doing Your Own Divorce
The issues you need work out when you divorce or separate from your spouse or common-law partner include:
- how property and debt will be divided
- parenting schedules and responsibilities
- calculation of basic child support costs as well as additional child-related expenses
- determining spousal support eligibility and payment
You have a range of choices available for navigating through these topics: from ugly, prolonged court battles; working with collaborative family law lawyers or using a mediator to help you and your spouse arrive at an agreement that fits your needs; consulting a lawyer for advice on specific thorny legal issues as well as your legal rights and obligations; to doing everything on your own.
Divorce is a complex process of negotiation and involves major decisions and choices. Many couples are able to solve these issues without going to court and if you and your spouse can communicate openly and honestly, you may be able to negotiate the terms of your separation and reach an agreement on your own. And if there are problems you need to work out, there are dispute-resolution professionals who can offer guidance.
Going to court can be expensive and time-consuming. It can also increase conflict because the court process is based on a win-lose approach. This doesn't help families maintain healthy relationships, which is especially important if there are children involved. However, in some cases, families need the assistance of a judge to decide things for them and that option is also available.
Once you have reached an agreement, it needs to be signed by both spouses and becomes binding once it's signed. If the agreement is about property or spousal support, the signature should be witnessed by at least one other person who is an adult. The same person can witness both signatures.
It’s important to take some time to think things over before you sign anything and never sign an agreement if you feel any pressure to do so. Before signing a separation agreement, you and your spouse can each get independent advice to ensure your rights and interests are protected and that agreement is fair and legally sound.
Self-Counsel Press offers a kit called Separation Agreement, which takes you through the process. You can download it or order the book (which comes with a CD-ROM) from the Self-Counsel Press website. The kit is also available at many bookstores and stationery stores. It has completed samples of separation agreements and blank forms that you can use, including forms that you can fill out using a computer.
Filing your agreement
You may wish to file your Agreement with the court if you have negotiated parenting or support issues. The Court can enforce those parts of the agreement if one of you doesn't follow though.
To file your agreement, simply take a copy of your signed agreement to the Provincial Court registry and ask to have it filed.
Proceeding with your divorce
A do-it- yourself-divorce is not appropriate for everyone. Filing for a joint divorce is perfect for couples who have no children, few assets or debts and a short-term marriage. It can also work for you if you are in agreement and where there are no disputes over property matters or issues regarding children or support.
DYI may not be your best choice if: you are engaged in high conflict; you fear you may not be getting what you are entitled to; your divorce is complex, or if you are uncomfortable or unsure about the process. You will need to consult a lawyer.
You can submit your divorce application once you have been separated for at least one year. You or your spouse must have resided in Alberta for at least one year prior to commencing your divorce proceeding and you or your spouse must continue to reside in Alberta for the duration of the divorce.
The Divorce Coach has helped thousands of Albertans draft their Separation Agreements, customized to their unique circumstances and family needs as well as to obtain their own uncontested divorce without the high cost of a lawyer. This affordable divorce service is designed to make your divorce application quick, efficient and stress free.
Quick. Easy. Affordable.
Contact The Divorce Coach and get started today
Tips and Links
If you were married longer than five years, one spouse may be entitled to Spousal support or to a portion of the other’s retirement funds
If there are children involved, you will need a parenting plan to sort out the details of parenting times and responsibilities and child support. http://www.justice.gc.ca/en/ps/sup/grl/glp.html
If you have a lot of assets or have many debts, a financial expert will help you divide up your property, determine who is responsible for what and advise you on any tax implications for transferring the funds.
A financial planner will help you budget and plan for the future.
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