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Separated? Consider the Butterfly Effect

A division supported by the legal system is stressful, expensive, and prolonged; if you have children, it will impact them either immediately or downstream.

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that small events can have far-reaching consequences or impacts. Decisions and choices you make now will play out in the future. Most of us don’t make the best choices when emotions run high and when we are overwhelmed. While you may or may not have chosen separation, you should carefully consider how you will navigate the separation process so that your “long game” is the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Most families will experience the best results if they choose the mediation process. The process supports both spouses in making informed decisions and co-creating a separation agreement or plan that can work for them, which ultimately means you control the outcome. And yes, this is still possible when trust is low or if a relationship is no longer amicable. 

When both spouses receive legal information and support from the same unbiased person (a qualified mediator), the likelihood of achieving the best possible outcome is much higher, and the costs are significantly lower. The legal system is not designed to meet your family’s goals, and unfortunately, when the legal system invites families to become more divided – they do!

A division supported by the legal system is stressful, expensive, and prolonged; if you have children, it will impact them either immediately or downstream. I could write a lot about the impact on children when parents cannot make decisions or solve problems together. The short version is they miss out on opportunities and experiences and tend to have more stress and anxiety. This is why selecting a process that invites you to work together rather than become more divided is so essential. 

Having no control over decisions that will significantly impact your life is stressful. Before you select a process that gives away your choice to an arbitrator or judge, I suggest you think about alternative options first. You should also carefully consider who you seek advice from. Do your friends and family understand the bigger picture and encourage you to make decisions you won’t regret next month? Friends should only give you legal advice if they happen to also be a Family Law Lawyer. If you feel more supported consulting a lawyer, remember that they likely need more information than you initially have to do this properly, especially if you want advice on support payments. Support payments are linked to parenting time and accurate income information that you may not have early on in your separation.

In summary, before making decisions, even if it is replying to a text or an email, remember the Butterfly Effect and ask yourself what impact your next move will likely have on your future, your children and your finances and let that be your guide. Ultimately, how you move forward in your separation is critical to everyone’s well-being. 


Amy Robertson

Amy Robertson is a sought-after and experienced mediator who has designed and delivered mediation training for mediators and lawyers across Canada on her client-centered approach to family mediation. Amy has successfully mediated over 900 mediations and her approach was developed to minimize the cost and time it takes for her… MORE

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