A cost-effective separation and divorce may be top of mind for some people, lately. Being forced to co-mingle with your spouse during COVID lock-down may have made those daunting thoughts of ‘being over’ all that much more apparent. Perhaps, not having many options for escape may have strengthened your resolve to separate?
But many are also experiencing reduced pay, loss of jobs or decreased self-employment income. How is it possible to fund the costs of a separation given the new economic reality? This is where your divorce professionals, who aren’t your lawyer, can work behind the scene to develop the necessary game plan at much less cost.
There are, essentially, three different considerations in a separation agreement – the Parenting Plan (for those who have children to consider), the asset division (who keeps what) and the calculation for Child and Spousal Support, if any. Why not pay one divorce professional to help you and your spouse to navigate through your negotiations and share in the cost? So, who are these people?
The Parenting Plan
Your Parenting Plan need not be negotiated by your lawyer. A Parenting Co-Ordinator is a divorce professional who is a social worker who is trained to understand the developmental needs of the children. They can meet with both parents and develop a Parenting Plan. Other divorce professionals who can walk you through your Parenting Plan are Family Mediators. These divorce professionals understand what needs to be included in the Parenting Plan, from a legal perspective. Typically, the Parenting Plans that I help clients negotiate are attached to the Separation Agreement as an Addendum, because they are inclusive.
The Financial Disclosure
Your legal financial disclosure can be prepared by either a Family Mediator that does financial mediation, or by a Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist who understands the workings of the legal financial disclosure requirements. Once the documents are prepared, you can take them to your lawyer to be negotiated. However, if you chose to work with a Financial Family Mediator, they can also help you and your spouse to navigate through the negotiations of who keeps what and they can calculate your Child and Spousal Support as well.
Where Does The Lawyer Fit In?
Once your divorce professionals help you both to create your Parenting Plan, your financial disclosure documents and calulations for Support, you can take all your documents to your lawyer to receive independent legal advice. If you chose to mediate your whole agreement, you may chose to get some legal advice along the way. For example, some of my clients will take their draft financial disclosure to their lawyers, before the financial mediation, to get some legal advice.
Either way, I insist my mediation clients have legal representation. Just because you have decided to navigate your Separation Agreement using other divorce professionals doesn’t mean that you should forego legal advice. There are cost-effective methods to get to the same place in your settlement. It’s often said that people feel that if they pay a lot of money they will get a better settlement. I say that they simply pay a lot of money.