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By Stéphane A. MonPremier
Family Law and Real Estate Lawyer

I am a divorce lawyer by trade. I am married with two young children aged 2 and 7. I have personally represented hundreds of married and unmarried couples in family court.

I urge anyone contemplating a separation to carefully read this article, weigh the advice being given and consider all available options.

Married life can be extremely challenging. Today’s average couple work outside the home on a full time basis. They have young children, whom must be hauled to and from daycare, hockey, swimming and a number of other activities. The parents are attempting to “keep up with the Jones’” by upgrading their vehicles, their homes and taking vacations they may not be able to afford. In addition, they are expected to maximize their RRSPs, RESPs, TFSA accounts, pay down their debts, and retire on an island by the age of 55. In the face of all of these pressures, and expectations, the couple is expected to have a passionate love life, work out regularly, and abstain from consuming pleasurable foods. Why we place so many unreasonable expectations on ourselves as a society, is a subject matter for another discussion. That said, the pressures are real, and for many, are a significant contributing factor to their decision to reconsider their relationships with their partners.

The truth of the matter is that marital problems are often the symptom of other problems, be it financial difficulties, stress, health problems, challenging children, and so on. When feeling confused, or frustrated by life, human nature can make us project our frustrations on those who are closest to us. Those who feel safe. When we are children, our parents are our targets. When we become adults, our spouses often take on this undesirable role. In such circumstances, disagreements regarding division of household duties, or lack of intimacy are often amplified out of proportion.

My recommendation to any individual who is contemplating separation is to contact a marriage counselor, prior to deciding to retain legal counsel. A marriage counselor can assist you to identify the issues which are the true source of your dissatisfaction, and give you tools to address the said problems.

Marriage counselors charge between $75.00 and $105.00 per hour. Such services are often covered in full, or in part, by employee benefits plans. A few sessions can make an enormous difference.

Lawyers, on the other hand, charge between $200.00 to $550.00 per hour. If a case is taken to trial, legal fees can cost upwards of $2,500.00 per day of trial, per lawyer. The financial consequences of a divorce are but one factor. The emotional consequences of a separation on the spouses and the children are also tremendous.

Given these hard facts, unless the source of the marital problems places someone’s safety at risk, I recommend that all options to save the relationship be fully exhausted, including marriage counseling, prior to retaining legal counsel.

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