hand crafted worry doll

Golden Rules to Follow After Separation


We usually give our client’s a Guatemalan Worry Doll when they come to see us.

A Guatemalan tradition is for children to tell their worries to a tiny handmade worry doll before bed. They place the doll under their pillow, and in the morning their doll has taken the worries away. 

There are often a lot of worries, anger and unknowns following separation. But most importantly – don’t panic! The family law process doesn’t need to be adversarial and combative. We are here to help resolve your matters and to help you find peace, healing and resolution.

Family law and separation issues are common and can be resolved in many different ways – from parties directly reaching agreement which is drawn up as a legal separation agreement, to discussion assisted with a mediator, collaborative legal options, formal negotiation though lawyers, arbitration, or through Court action. Each of these approaches has its place, and we will help you explore the best way to resolve family issues in a professional, and resolution focused environment.                     

We hope that our assistance can also let you put some worries or concerns behind you, and focus on a new and positive future.

These are some tips and Golden Rules we give to clients after separation:


Protection Orders             

If at any stage you feel at risk from a former partner or party to proceedings, do not hesitate to request Police assistance (dial 911). If you are concerned that your former partner may be a future risk to you or children in your care, you should attend your nearest Police station to apply for a peace bond. If Police refuse, please speak to us about other options.

Passport Alerts                    

Speak to your lawyer immediately if you have a concern that your former partner may be intending to leave Canada with a child and without your permission. It can be extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to have a child returned from certain countries. If you are concerned that an unauthorized passport application may be made on your child’s behalf, you may ask Passport Canada to add your child’s name to Passport Canada’s System Lookout List.

Time Limits on Property Settlement & Support Applications                     

Note that time limits apply for an application for property division, and financial support. Financial and property Court applications can be made any time after separation, but may be time-barred after 2 years from the date of either separation or divorce. This may result in a poor legal outcome, particularly if property is held in your former partner’s name. Failure to divide property is also a common cause of dispute after separation. It is therefore very important that property division is acted upon promptly following separation.

Rule 5 and Parenting After Separation

If Provincial court proceedings are necessary, the court will usually require that you take two steps before a listing date is granted:

  1. The Court will ask that you make a ‘Rule 5’ appointment at the Justice Access Centre (Nanaimo – 250-741-5447). This is an appointment with a counsellor to discuss mediation options.
  2. You will also need to complete a ‘Parenting After Separation’ Course either in person or online (at www.familieschange.ca).

Please supply us with certificates of completion of both steps, so that there is no delay in obtaining a Court listing.

“Golden Rules” for Achieving a Good Divorce
(adapted from The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons)


1.   ACCEPT THAT ALL-OUT WAR IS NOT INEVITABLE. In fact, it is destructive.  Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are two choices that aim to reduce anger between divorcing spouses.

2    SLOW DOWN THE PROCESS. Although adults often want to move on quickly, remember that children need time to adjust.

3.   ACCEPT THAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS–AND HAS A RIGHT–TO BOTH PARENTS. Even though you’re angry with your spouse, remember your children’s needs.

4.    COOPERATE WITH YOUR EX FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your kids.  Ongoing conflict between parents increases children’s distress.

5. DON’T BADMOUTH YOUR EX IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN. When you criticize your ex to the kids you are telling your kids that the part of them that is like their other parent is bad too. It is bad for their self-esteem.

6. DIVORCE IS NOT THE END OF THE FAMILY. It’s important to your children’s well-being for them to feel like they still have a family.  Help them to understand that the divorce means that they are now a dual-household family, with new ‘limited partnership’ rules.

7. RECOGNIZE THAT COMPROMISE IS ALWAYS NECESSARY. This is key to helping to reduce your anger.

8. LET YOURSELF FACE AND GRIEVE YOUR LOSSES One of the big losses is the loss of future dreams. Just beneath your anger is sadness over the losses of those special things you might have hoped for in your future.

9.  LET THE ANGER GO—AND MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE. Holding on to hostility and anger is self-destructive.  It keeps you stuck in the past and keeps you from finding new joys in life.

Other Assistance              

The following are a number of organizations that you can contact for further assistance:

  • Police assistance – 911
  • Parenting After Separation course – www.familieschange.ca or 1-800-663-7867                 
  • Nanaimo Family Life – one on one affordable counselling – 250-754-3331
  • The Men’s Centre – www.themenscentre.ca or 250-716-1551
  • Haven Society Transition House – temporary women’s and children shelter – 250-756-2452
  • Crisis Line (Available 24/7): 1-888-494-3888
  • Credit Counselling Society – non-profit credit counselling and budgeting programs – www.nomoredebts.org – 1-888-527-8999
  • Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Centre – 250-716-1633
  • Rainbows Nanaimo – support for children in separation – 250-751-7888
  • Joel Osteen – faith-based positive messages – www.joelosteen.com                           

What If I need to Contact Someone about My Case?                

Sometimes you have an urgent need to contact your lawyer directly. Be aware that because our lawyers are often in Court all day, there may be a delay for a return call. Feel free to call Amanda, our office manager, who may be able to assist you with respect to non-legal matters and inquiries including billing queries.