Going through a marriage separation can leave a person feeling out of control. But to the contrary, separation can actually give a person confidence and empowerment while allowing them to be in control of themselves; much like taking hold of their own steering wheel.
Part of taking that control involves gathering information so that decisions can be informed.
“The person who has decided to leave a marriage has done so because they feel life can be better, so they’ve taken control. I want to show them that things can get better and they can get better quickly,” says Aurora Johannson, LLB, BEd, family law litigator, experienced mediator and mindfulness educator at Inside Passage Law.
“Divorce can be a destructive process, but it is also a constructive process,” says Johannson, a former teacher and mother of two who has practiced family law litigation since 2009 and mediation since 2014. Her approach to working with clients is to assist couples dealing with a split to approach it from a mindful perspective and become aware of the big picture.
She says most everybody, when beginning the process of separating, or even thinking about the possibility, is faced with a number of questions and worries. Johannson addresses four of the most common initial questions.
Q: What happens if I leave the family home?
A: “A person doesn’t need to be living at the home in order to keep an interest,” says Johannson. But, she cautions, once someone decides to leave the home, they can’t expect to live there again. It’s vital that there is a plan in place before leaving the house.
Q: Will I lose my interest in the home/house/property if I leave?
A: “There are things you can do to secure your interest in the home. If the other party decides to sell the house or take out a second mortgage or transfer the interest to another, this can make it harder to get or keep your interest,” explains Johannson. This is one of those issues that should not be ignored. This is a time to enlist some legal support and, or a mediator to provide guidance.
Q: How can I minimize the impact on my children?
A: “One of the things I would suggest is to talk to a child specialist and use that knowledge to inform your lawyer or mediator,” says Johannson. Children want to have input and be heard, but she cautions that the input and information they’re given is age appropriate. Reassuring kids, young or older, that the separation is not their fault, that both parents love them and that the important things, such as seeing their friends and having a safe, loving stable home, will remain despite there being lots of changes, are three important points to instill.
Q: How am I going to support myself once I leave the home and marriage?
A: “Taking control over what you can, and not expecting to rely on the other person financially,” is vital. It may sound easy to get a job, but for some it can be a challenge as they may have been out of the workforce for some time. It might mean enlisting in some upgrading or re-educating, or not taking the ideal job right away. “There is personal power that comes out of working and making our own money, and decisions around that.”
Through all of the questions, stresses and uncertainty, Johannson says the bottom line is to take control where you can and approach it from a place of mindfulness, which will in turn help make solid decisions and manage stresses.
For more information on Inside Passage law or Johannson’s services, visit www.insidepassagelaw.ca