As a lawyer who has practised family law for over 27 years, I think what I hear the most from clients is “I just want this over with”. Most people want their case concluded so that they can move on. And the longer it drags on, the more stressful and chaotic their lives become. The danger is settling to quick and then regretting later. When clients first separate, for most, it is the most stressful life event they will ever encounter. Their life has been turned upside down. In my experience, it takes several months at least before the dust begins to settle. If you are in the early stages, when you are angry and in emotional turmoil, do you really think you should be making major decisions that will affect the rest of your life and the lives of that of your children? Not if you don’t have to.
Take some time to get your head around what has happened. If your spouse is really pushing you to agree to a deal right after you separated – be careful. If they tell you not to take time to think it over that you should not seek legal or financial advice before you sign – be really careful. Whatever deal you agree to will affect your life and the life of your children for a long time. It is not something you should rush into just to “get it over with”. It’s a lot more time consuming and expensive to try to correct a bad deal as opposed to getting it right the first time.
Realize from the outset that is your life and you should be calling the shots. Never throw your hands up in the air and expect a lawyer, a counsellor, a financial advisor, a whoever to just make decisions for you. Its your responsibility to understand the issues and the possible resolutions. Sit down and work through the issues until you understand them and then you will be able to make your own decisions. It is always better to make an informed decision, then to just languish. Often, there is no “right decision”.
You need to be able to come to the table with a clear head and a solid understanding of the issues. You need to have a realistic view of what you want on each issue. Most importantly, you need to be looking ahead, not motivated by anger and resentment. Then you will end up with a deal that is best for you and your children.