When telling the story of my divorce, at some point, I say, ” I was lucky that when my spouse and I separated, the news was spotlighting the Collaborative Process.” A news article led us to find the perfect lawyers to help us transform our lives and get us back on track.

When I discovered that my spouse had filed for divorce, I was in a terrible emotional state. I spent my days anxious – what would become of our children and us? Where would we live? How would we survive? Every day, I wondered if I would make it to the next day alive. I might have a heart attack with the stress. Our seven-year-old and four-year-old sons were picking up on our emotional states; our eldest broke out in horrific cold sores and isolated himself from the rest of us, and our youngest had frequent breakdowns with increased screaming and hitting.

After my initial consultation with the Collaborative lawyer who would become my lawyer, I contemplated hiring a bulldog lawyer. However, the available information I kept coming across clearly stated that children suffered the most when their parents had a high-conflict divorce.

It was a tough decision to hire my Collaborative lawyer as I genuinely believed I was right and would win if I took my spouse to court. Little did I understand then that if one spouse “wins,” the children lose.

I also did not think a “Collaborative” lawyer would effectively get my spouse to engage in a truthful and effective process. I did not understand that the law is black and white – the default financial separation is fifty-fifty on assets and income. Policy and case law have created a family law process that best ensures both spouses start from the same financial position post-separation. While a bulldog lawyer might have made my spouse look bad in court, there wouldn’t have been any significant impact on our financial separation. I would have spent thousands and thousands more to increase the conflict in my family.

Our lawyers helped us find a solution that we could both grudgingly accept and also helped us keep our conflict away from our children.

Today, our children are sixteen and thirteen, and we celebrated our eldest’s birthday together. We played pitch and putt and had dinner at my son’s favourite restaurant.

Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, and it has not been easy juggling being a solo parent on a part-time basis. My former spouse, now co-parent, and I have had to navigate many difficult parenting situations over the past nine years; fortunately, we navigated the challenges together for our kids.

Today, I am grateful that we were lucky enough to find lawyers who understood the essential part of separation is keeping the family together while separating the finances.

And I’m doing my best to ensure that luck no longer plays a role for families embarking on the separation of homes and finances. Luck should not have any part of it. The default family law system must put families and children first.