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Ending a Relationship: What Do I Do?

Deciding to end a domestic relationship can be an emotional and complex decision to make. But once you have mentally decided that it's time to end a relationship with your spouse, the next steps are to formalize that decision.

Married couples must end their marriage by requesting a divorce from the government. Once all pending issues on how each party will move forward are sorted out, a judge can then grant the divorce if all other requirements are met.

At outlined on the Government of Alberta website, there are three grounds for divorce: adultery, abuse or 1-year of separation. Once you have met these requirements, you may file for divorce from the government. If you and your spouse separate, you don't have to wait the year to start discussing how you will each move forward separately.

The "pending issues" mentioned above are rarely black and white, regardless of how amicable the divorcing parties may be. They involve issues such as dividing the matrimonial home, if a spouse is eligible for spousal support and the terms of payment, how to divide shared savings, debts, property, pensions, and other financial issues. Another level of complexity would be if there are children involved.

It's best to consult with an experienced family lawyer for legal guidance on these issues. Dividing a shared life can be an emotionally frustrating experience, and it's crucial that you understand your legal rights and how to protect your financial interests.

You have many options at your disposal to resolve these issues. You can negotiate a settlement agreement with your lawyers. You can also try alternative methods of resolutions. Arbitration is a method where a third party listens to both sides and offers a solution that takes both perspectives into consideration. Mediation allows you and your partner to keep the settlement talks out of the courtroom and use a meditator to facilitate a discussion that allows both parties to reach a reasonable solution.

However, if certain issues are more challenging to resolve, you can use these methods to resolve as many contentious points as possible, and then head to court to resolve just the points that are left unresolved.

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