Quick Escape

Preparing for Separation

Separation is a significant event for all family members. There are steps you can take to prepare yourself to separate safely, put the needs of children first, and support family-wellbeing and healthy transitions:

Safety First

  • Separation can be destabilizing, and this situation is recognized as a crisis point for violence
  • In Manitoba, Family Violence under The Family Law Act means any conduct, whether or not the conduct constitutes a criminal offence, by a family member toward another family member, that is violent or threatening or that constitutes a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour or that causes that other family member to fear for their own safety or for that of another person — and in the case of a child, the direct or indirect exposure to such conduct — and includes:
    1. physical abuse, including forced confinement but excluding the use of reasonable force to protect themselves or another person;
    2. sexual abuse;
    3. threats to kill or cause bodily harm to any person;
    4. harassment, including stalking;
    5. the failure to provide the necessaries of life;
    6. psychological abuse;
    7. financial abuse;
    8. threats to kill or harm an animal or damage property; and
    9. the killing or harming of an animal or the damaging of property
  • If you are experiencing family violence, get help immediately. The Family Resolution Service can support you with safety planning and connecting you with resources – Manitobans can access the service by emailing GetGuidance@gov.mb.ca or by calling 204-945-2313 (Winnipeg) or 1-844-808-2313 (toll-free) Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm.
  • If you have been attacked or threatened with violence, you should contact the police immediately. Call 911 or, if 911 service is not yet available in the community, call the local RCMP detachment or police department. For a list of RCMP detachments in Manitoba, please visit the RCMP website.


  • If safe, plan ahead and tell your children together. Keep the children’s age in mind when deciding how much to tell them. Younger children may need less detail and older children may ask for more information.
  • Reassure the children that they are loved and that you both care for them. Let them know there will be opportunities to spend time with both parents.
  • Be clear that the children are not the cause of separation. It is common for younger children to worry or take on blame. Be clear this is an adult problem and that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the separation.
  • Encourage the children to share their feelings. Listen and be open to what they have to say. It is normal for children to have difficulty expressing their feelings, be patient and answer questions together. Connect with another family member, doctor, psychologist or social worker to support the children throughout the separation.
  • Tell the children only what they need to know. Don’t discuss adult decisions or argue in front of the children. Children should not be involved in resolution meetings (i.e. meeting with a lawyer). Don’t speak badly about the other parent to the children.
  • Take the For the Sake of the Children program. This online program is available in English and French and helps parents understand what they are going through during separation as well as what children may experience and need.


  • Be respectful when communicating with each other
  • Only communicate with each other when you are both calm and feeling safe. Do not confront or send messages when you are angry, or have been drinking or are otherwise impaired.
  • Take time to provide considered responses on sensitive issues. Breathe, reflect, and do not send late night or knee-jerk responses.
  • Do not post anything about your partner, yourself or your separation on social media.

Protect your Privacy

  • Change the passcode on your cellphone or other smart devices
  • Change your login and password for your personal online banking
  • Change your login and password for your personal online credit cards OR request a new credit card number
  • Reset your personal email account passwords and security questions or create new personal email accounts

Financial Matters

  • Do not cancel health coverage or life insurance benefits
  • Do not "clear out" joint accounts or overspend
  • Organize your financial documents and make necessary copies.
  • Consider if you need to limit your lines of credit.