21 Tips for Leaving Your Spouse

  1. Think twice as the grass is not always greener on the other side of the street.
  2. Is it really the money? Financial counseling can save marriages.
  3. Have children, don't travel! Children of divorced parents do suffer.
  4. Sole custody of your children and no spouse equals no life for you. Your children have a right to and need both parents. Treat your ex as if it were a limited partnership with clear rules concerning the children.
  5. Accept that all-out war is not inevitable. In fact, it is destructive. Compromise is always necessary.
  6. If you still want to separate, call your lawyer but first call a marriage counsellor.
  7. If you proceed with your lawyer, stay in charge of your divorce. This is your divorce, not your lawyer's. Interview mediators and lawyers to match your situation to expertise/price/personality.
  8. More children born to a troubled marriage do not in most circumstances improve the marriage.
  9. Plan Plan Plan! Don't rush as proper planning will save emotional scars and allow you to let the anger go and get on with your life. Assess basic financial needs for daily expenses prior to any action. You must also assess living quarters realistically for cost, location, convenience, and maintenance.
  10. Prep Prep Prep! Don't rush, as proper preparation will save legal expense. Assess protection required for personal and family needs, benefits and special needs. Create a disciplined system to manage spending.
  11. Learn to use a word processor - save to CDs or a USB Stick but password protect your files.
  12. Take time off work while going through your separation. You need time to heal and forgive yourself.
  13. Move out of your Matrimonial home only after all financial issues are settled. Alternative accommodations may mean the plan for the rest of your life. Search the Web for free information on accommodations, vehicles and dealing with the psychological concerns for yourself and your children, but clear your history after each session.
  14. By all means draw a new Will, Power of Attorney with your lawyer, and sever that joint tenancy on the Matrimonial Home. Better you should protect at least half of the home to go to your heirs rather than lose it all to your spouse.
  15. Keep a daily diary and visit support groups on transition, single parenting, and making the most of what you have.
  16. Play "I spy" for information concerning your spouse. Go through the matrimonial home and to the Safety Deposit Box and copy all documentation whether you think they are relevant or not. Items which you are certain will disappear, should be secured outside the Matrimonial home.
  17. Those whom you trust the most will squeal the most. Keep plans secret. Set up an emergency fund that is not a bank account and keep quiet about it.
  18. Set up a mail drop. If your spouse has left the matrimonial home and taken up residence elsewhere, return your spouse's mail (particularly from financial institutions and CRA) - Return To Sender, moved on (insert date.) - This is useful to establish the date of separation before a separation agreement is signed.
  19. Your Home phone and even your Cell phones calls can be monitored and the records of the calls produced. Email stays on your computer. Assume someone is listening and reading. Use Web-based email with a new password containing some non-letter characters like the $ sign.
  20. Set up new bank accounts, both savings and chequing. Change your PIN on debit cards and, if you don't already have one, apply for a credit card in your own name to establish a separate credit rating. Remember to change the beneficiary on life insurance policies, pension plans and RRSP savings.
  21. Credit cards can be traced, cash is good, cheques are bad. Protect support income with an insurance policy owned by you. Contact Service Canada to apply to sever the CPP entitlement, if  your spouse has had higher earnings during the marriage than you did. Be sure as well to discuss with any creditors severing your portion of the debt from that of your spouse and freezing any further advances on those lines of credit and credit cards you cannot sever.

Revised March 2015