Separating – Get proper legal advice from an experienced family lawyer as early as possible! Going to see a lawyer does not mean that you have decided to engage in battle with your ex, in fact good legal advice will often help to avoid that happening. Good legal advice will help you realise what your rights and responsibilities are, and can set you straight on any misconceptions you may have. Supportive friends, family or colleagues may try to give you advice based on what happened to them or someone they know, but be very cautious in taking on too much of such advice. Every family situation is unique and needs to be treated accordingly, which an experienced family lawyer will be able to do.
Family lawyers often help people at crisis points in their lives, and know that you will have problems that involve much more than just “who is legally entitled to what?” You may want to leave the home but there are important practical steps you can take before doing so, such as collecting your personal items, getting certain documents and documenting certain issues. Whether you leave the family home or not is also something that you should get advice on as this often affects the ability of people to be able to reach an agreement. For example, if you leave the home and your ex stays, your ex may well be comfortable and happy in their environment and not motivated to try to resolve the property settlement quickly.
There is no one answer as to what is “right” for the children at the time of separation, but what you do initially may have long reaching consequences. Many people also have various mistaken beliefs about their “rights” or “lack of rights” with regard to the children, and acting on these mistaken beliefs can often cause significant difficulties for them. Getting good advice can ensure you avoid these potential pitfalls.