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What do you do when your marriage breaks down?

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you need to research what the laws of Alberta say about this. Asking a lawyer to intervene and answer your questions doesn't mean that your marriage is doomed, it just means that, if something does happen and you two separate, there is a clearly established route you will be taking, without all the emotional upheaval that can happen in this type of situation.

One of the first and most important steps you need to take is to decide if you want to continue to be married to your spouse. If you do, there are counselors who can help you. If you don't, there are some things you will need to plan for. These issues, if dealt with early, can provide a means for your divorce to be completed without a lot of fuss.

You will need to put together, with your attorney and your spouse and his or her attorney, a parenting plan if there are children involved. Also, you will need a complete list of all your assets, property and debt or expenses. Your spouse needs to do the same thing with his or her finances. A court order can force this person to provide the needed information.

A really good idea is to write down your long- and short-term goals for dealing with things between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Getting your spouse to think about this subject and perhaps provide you and your lawyer with a list can be a huge help in getting through this difficult time.

Sitting down with your spouse and talking through things calmly is another action you will want to take. Doing it in public may be the best place because you two can't raise your voices at each other. Another place is at your attorney's office.

Getting a divorce is not the end of the world. You may need to do further research and get to know the legalities of what you want to accomplish. Getting legal advice is a wise idea.

Source: The Law Society of Alberta, "When You Divorce or Separate," accessed Oct. 28, 2015

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