Divorce can be a complex matter, especially when it comes to the division of property. For couples who have been married for many years, a division of the family property can be time-consuming and emotionally charged. The following is a list of 10 essential questions that must be resolved. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it meant to be a substitute for the advice of an experienced family lawyer and/or financial professional.

1. Is there a valid marriage?

In some cases, the marriage itself might not be valid. If you or your spouse had a pre-existing marriage that was not ended, your present marriage might be invalid. It may be possible to get an annulment. If you were in a common-law relationship, a whole different set of laws apply.

2. Do you understand the costs involved?

When speaking with a lawyer, he or she should tell you the likely expenses associated with the divorce and what may happen if the matter goes to trial before a judge or jury.

3. Do you understand the timelines involved?

A good lawyer will also give you an idea of the sequence of events and the likely length of time that the proceedings will take. A number of factors can influence the length of time, such as the availability of financial records and the number of cases before the courts at any given time.

4. What is the exact date of separation?

Knowing the exact date on which you and your spouse separated can be very important in determining which assets and debts are to be considered part of the family property.

5. Do you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement or marriage contract?

It is important that any existing agreement be promptly identified as it can greatly affect the process. While the existence of an agreement can simplify the division of property, it may be invalid if it was not properly created.

6. Have all assets been identified?

It is important to have a clear list of all property. In some cases, a spouse may attempt to conceal assets. Other assets, such as future pension benefits, RRSPs, life insurance policies and items in storage may easily be overlooked.

7. Have all debts been identified?

Although a debt may have been created by your spouse, you may find that you have a personal liability for that debt.

8. Is the value of all assets known?

If you own any antiques or inherited objects, you may not know their true value. A professional appraisal may be useful for these types of items.

9. Are any minor children or disabled dependents involved?

A division of assets will need to take their needs into account as well.

10. Can you and your spouse come to an amicable resolution?

If you and your spouse are able to negotiate or mediate a settlement, you can avoid the expense and emotional stress of a trial.

There are numerous other things to consider beyond these ten questions. A skilled family lawyer can help you identify all of the issues that are relevant to your particular circumstances. For more information and to speak to an experienced family lawyer, contact Jason P. Howie online or at 519.973.1500.