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Steps to Reduce Conflict During Your Separation or Divorce

Being faced with divorce is not easy on anyone, and it is certainly not a situation most people expect to find themselves in. While nothing will make the process of divorce pleasant, you can take steps to help make the process smoother and minimize conflict with your spouse.

Evaluate How You Are Communicating

While emotions are likely to be high during the divorce process, it is important to take an objective view of yourself and your behaviour. Make best efforts to be as civil as possible when speaking with your spouse. While you need to be careful not to divulge any information that can be used against you, it is wise to maintain some communication with your spouse on matters where you can. Having a goal of conflict resolution with your spouse helps to promote collaboration and may help avoid litigation.

Before communicating with your spouse, it is a good idea to figure out which issues are highly contentious and avoid topics that are likely to incite anger or emotional outbursts in either person.

Your family lawyer in Vancouver will assess early on how well you and your spouse can work together. He or she can advise you about how much communication you should have with your spouse and what topics to focus on. It is important to trust your lawyer about protocols given and follow what he or she recommends.

While it is generally true in civil disputes that parties do not speak directly to one another, family law and divorce proceedings are somewhat different – you and your spouse’s lives are quite intertwined, and for various reasons, you may need to communicate with your spouse for practical purposes. This is particularly true where children are involved.

Privatize Your Social Media

Your use of social media during the divorce process should be quite limited. It is best to avoid “oversharing” photographs and information, especially about any new love interests. Failing to do so makes it very easy for people to read in meaning to activities that you are seen engaging in online.

There is a good chance that your spouse and his or her lawyer will make all efforts to use any online activity you have that they can access to their advantage (and often to your detriment), whether as evidence of your credibility, the type of lifestyle you are leading, what you appear to have spent money on, and other matters that may be used to try to influence child custody arrangements or determine your ability to pay spousal support.

Fortunately, social media platforms such as Facebook may have a highly customizable privacy setting — use this to your advantage.  You are typically best off ensuring that your social media platforms are highly privatized, keeping your personal life to yourself and your close friends only. Where spouses can see each other’s social media activity, emotions can be provoked by posts that inspire anger or annoyance in the other person. Heightened emotions make the likelihood of civil resolution less likely.

Identify the Best Dispute Resolution Process

Not all divorce cases need to be litigated. In fact, the British Columbia courts encourage persons involved in divorce to exhaust other dispute resolution processes before litigating. Typically, mediation is encouraged where the parties are capable of engaging in a civil manner and where each party believes there is some prospect of compromise.

Litigation is costly and time-consuming. Where issues can be resolved by mediation, this is almost always the preferred route. One of the advantages of mediation is that it encourages the open sharing of information and ideas. The mediation process is “without prejudice;” this means that information and ideas can be openly shared without the risk that this information will be used against you, even if mediation fails.

For example, offering to make certain compromises or agreeing to make concessions about ownership of certain pieces of property may help lead to a final agreement that is acceptable to both you and your spouse. However, if for some reason an agreement cannot ultimately be reached during the mediation process, you can rest assured that those compromises and concessions will never be used as evidence of what you are legally entitled or not entitled to (i.e., if you need to proceed to litigation).

At Paine Edmonds LLP in Vancouver, a Divorce Lawyer Can Help

As soon as it becomes apparent that divorce is in your future, whether because your spouse has filed for divorce, or because you wish to, it is wise to retain a family lawyer. A lawyer who is there from the beginning will help you navigate all steps of the process, and be able to assist you in communicating with your spouse in the most effective manner. A family lawyer will also be able to advise on whether mediation services in Vancouver make sense in your circumstances, and how to reach a settlement with your spouse while avoiding conflict as much as possible. Call us for help with your separation or divorce in Vancouver at 604-683-1211.