The initial period following separation is overwhelming for many. Ensuring that your children are cared for, unravelling your relationship with your partner, and promoting your personal well-being are likely your top priorities. After separation, you may have to deal with things that were your partner’s responsibility during your relationship. Many of the issues that are evident upon separation are outside of your lawyer’s retainer, but still need to be addressed to reach a successful resolution of your family law matter.
At Gibson & Reitboeck LLP, we realize that you may need assistance coping with the emotional and financial consequences associated with separation. We are not counsellors, accountants, or financial advisors. We are lawyers. As lawyers, we are bound to our fiduciary duty to act in your best interests and zealously advocate for you in your family law matter within the confines of the law. We realize that you may be experiencing complex emotions or dealing with personal finances for the first time. This blog post will outline five basic ways that you are able to promote your mental health and financial competence in your family law matter.
Therapy is vital in promoting you and your children’s long term mental wellbeing. At your initial consultation, we will provide you with a resource package outlining the available counselling and social programming available in the Niagara Region. We collaborate with many therapists, counsellors and social workers. We will be happy to direct you to reputable therapists and counsellors who may help with your mental health. As lawyers, we know the law. We do not hold ourselves out to be registered therapists, psychologists, or counsellors. We maintain that these professionals are crucial in promoting your holistic wellbeing post separation. Separation and divorce are multifaceted life events, with legal, emotional and financial implications. We encourage you to rely on professionals in each of these fields to navigate this complex life event.
Additionally, our resource package includes numerous social services in the Niagara Region. If you are living with an addiction or need help with providing nutritious meals to your children, we can direct you to the appropriate support. We encourage you to attend a regional shelter if you are in a domestically abusive relationship or fear for your safety. If you have separated from a partner that inflicted domestic abuse, we promote rehabilitative programming to break the cycle of domestic abuse and promote a positive future for you and your children.
Fulsome financial disclosure is necessary in family law matters. To complete your financial statement, you will need to provide extensive financial disclosure, including your three most recent notices of assessment. The Canada Revenue Agency’s online account enables you to access your notices of assessment and information regarding your government benefits. We understand that there are many reasons why you may not be able to personally access your personal tax and benefit information, including leaving an abusive relationship or never being responsible for finances during your relationship. If you are unable to readily access your notices of assessment, we encourage you to set up an online account as soon as possible.
To set up your account, please visit the Government of Canada Website (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/cra-login-services.html). There are two steps to create your account. First, you will need to provide your personal information including your social insurance number, date of birth, and an amount that was previously entered on a previous tax return. After this, you will be provided with a CRA security code to access your personal income information and tax benefits.
Though the responsibility of managing finances may seem daunting, your personal income tax and benefit information is necessary when providing financial disclosure. We encourage you to set up your online CRA account as soon as possible if you have not already done so.
To carry on with the theme of finances, setting up an online banking account with your financial institution will be helpful with financial disclosure. To complete your financial statement, you will need information regarding the branches where your accounts are held, account types, account numbers, and the amount in your accounts on important dates in your relationship.
If the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic did not require you to open an online banking account already, we encourage you to open one now. The convenience and accessibility of your personal finances through online banking makes it desirable for a multitude of reasons. In Canada, the major banking institutions have online banking options. If you are hesitant about opening an account online, we recommend that you go to your local branch to seek assistance setting up your account.
To repeat the obvious, we are lawyers. We are not financial planners or accountants, and we will not advise you in the realm of personal investments (unless you tell us that you are going to commit a criminal offence – we will discourage you from doing that). The key advice that you will get from the lawyers is that litigation is expensive, and they would rather you pay for your own child’s education rather than theirs.
Support, equalization payments, and property constitute a high volume of litigation in family law. We are bound to advocate for your best interests regarding financial matters as they relate to your family law matter, but what you do with your money is up to you. We realize that during your relationship, you may not have been responsible for financial matters. Separation and divorce almost always change your personal finances. If you would like to retain professional financial advice, we can recommend local experts in accounting, investing, and planning.
As harsh as it may sound, your lawyer’s role is not to be your friend. Though we endeavor to be personable with clients, our role is to advance your best interests and offer you sound legal advice. Legal advice and personal advice frequently diverge, and lawyers are bound to present you with realistic legal recourses. Pursuant to the Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers cannot represent clients if their own interest would affect their representation of said clients. Lawyers are bound to their fiduciary duty to their clients and advocate for them within the limits of the law.
As lawyers, it is important to not assume the persona of one’s client. We realize that family law matters are life-altering events, and in light of same, you need a support network. Please reach out to your family and friends who can show you compassion, love, and sympathy. Being in touch with your loved ones can give you the emotional support needed to navigate this difficult time.
At Gibson & Reitboeck LLP, we understand that family law matters are multifaceted and notable events in one’s life. Due to same, we encourage you to seek professional financial and emotional support. In addition to professional guidance, being in touch with your family and friends is often invaluable during your family law matter. As lawyers, we know the law and how to advocate for you in accordance with our professional Rules of Professional Conduct. We also know when to consult other professionals to make the best use of your retainer and promote your overall wellbeing. Please consider the above noted resources and recommendations to help us help you!