Here are some pointers to help you work through your separation constructively.
The right process
Use a family dispute resolution process such a mediation or the collaborative law process (also known as collaborative practice). The law requires you to try to resolve case without going to court if you can. Your lawyer has a duty to encourage you to use a family dispute resolution process unless this would not be right for your case.
The right lawyer
Hire a lawyer who has mediation or collaborative law training as they have skills in negotiations, conflict resolution and client-centred settlements. Often lawyers with these skills are more likely to help you settle the case and avoid court.
Find a way to deal with the obstacles that get in the way, such as a lack of trust in your ex-partner and an inability to communicate with him or her to name just two. A collaborative family professional a mediator or therapist can work with both of you to help clear the air so you can focus on negotiating
Focus on the children’s best interests
This goes without saying. A mediator or family professional with collaborative law training can help you create a parenting plan.
Recognize that reaching an agreement is likely to take longer than you would want. Ask your lawyer for a reasonable estimate of the timeline so that you are not working with unrealistic expectations.
Keep an open mind about the way your case may be resolved. Brainstorming several solutions works better than staking a position and sticking to it without compromise.
Timely financial disclosure
You will need to gather documentation to establish the value of assets and debts and will be asked to provide your income tax returns and notices of assessment for the last three years and proof of current income. Jointly retain a financial professional with collaborative law training to help you compile this information together if possible.
Get your own support system in place in the form of a counsellor and/or family and friends. Not only are you adjusting emotionally to the breakdown of your relationship you are navigating new territory as you work through the legal process of a separation and make plans for your future.
If you need certain things to happen so that you can be more effective and manage the multiple demands on your time, then say so. For example, set realistic timelines for you to provide information, create a communication protocol with your ex-partner (text?, email?, when?, turnaround time?), and consider using an app for you and your ex-partner to communicate and organize the children’s schedule.
Take a break
We live in an increasingly complicated world. The breakdown of a relationship is a life-changing event that impacts you emotionally, financially and legally. Take a break and focus on your mental health and physical health if you feel overwhelmed.
The key points here will not be enough in many cases, including cases involving family violence. Consult a lawyer to help you decide what is best for you. Let’s book a consultation to discuss your case.