Separation Coach

A community blog to help people going through break ups, separation or divorce.

Separation Coach - A community blog to help people going through break ups, separation or divorce.

Self Representation doesn’t mean being alone

Self Represented Litigants (SRLs) come from all walks of life, economic status, and motivations. Why be a SRL? The choice could stem from issues with the cost of legal representation and not qualifying to get Legal Aid, having past bad experiences with lawyers, not being able to find a lawyer that you trust, or of course, you may just have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it yourself.

Whatever your path to be a SRL, the important thing to know is that while it can be scary and uncertain, it doesn’t mean you must be completely on your own.

A few things to keep in mind when you’re a SRL;

  1. SRLs are said to have a bad reputation in the eyes of the court and lawyers.  They don’t know the law, proper procedures, or lingo of the court and that can slow down the process
  2. SRLs are sometimes seen by lawyers as self deluded and pursuing the need to be “right”, SRLs are certainly seen as a frustration
  3. SRLs could potentially lose their case because of a lack of understanding and procedural errors
  4. Advice from veteran SRLs. While they may have some practical experience to share with you, their case isn’t yours and the circumstances, lawyers, judges, etc. will be different
  5. As an SRL, lawyers are not your only source of professional information and support. Some lawyers may be happy to work on a fee for service model and be part of a team

While this process of being a SRL is scary, frustrating and can cause stress, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are a number resources out there to help you be more successful.

A lot of information is available online as I’m sure you know.  This includes information created by the government, lawyers, the National Self Represented Litigants Project, and blogs created by individuals that have gone through the process. At times it may seem like there is too much information and that in itself is can be confusing.

While many of these sites provide valuable information, you may not see them applying directly to your particular case or circumstance.

A more targeted route you can take is to work with a separation/divorce coach to help you through your separation process. Separation/Divorce coaches can help support you with no nonsense information and practical advice. Although, not created equal, look for a coach who can:

  1. Help get your financials in order and complete your financial disclosure. This is the backbone of your financial decisions about the house, equalization, child support and spousal support.
  2. If you have children, a coach can help you develop a proposed parenting plan or review one prepared by your ex spouse.
  3. Ask the real questions. What are you hoping to achieve? Are you being reasonable? Are your needs achievable and realistic?
  4. Assist with communication during this stressful time. Coaches can vet or prepare communications for you. It’s important to be clear and concise, sometimes emotions can get in the way.
  5. A properly trained coach can review settlement offers with you and look at the consequences of them while helping you create counter proposals.

A coach can also support you through many challenges you’re going to face. Not emotional support that a counsellor would provide but real life, practical support related to your specific situation.

As a SRL, you may face times where you feel like giving up, your coach can help you stay focused and teach you to pick your battles.

At times, you may feel bullied, your coach can help remind you why you’re doing this and to stay empowered.

Also, as the process drags on (as it has a tendency to do), the coach can give you reality checks to keep you on track and moving forward.

At the end of the day, a coach should provide the support you need, whether you know you need it or not.

Having a coach as a member of your separation team can’t guarantee success for you, but it will put you in the best possible position, next to full legal representation. And the best part? You don’t need to go through this alone!

DIVORCE – Keeping The House: Emotion vs. Logic

You are getting separated, it doesn’t matter whether you are married or common-law, 30 or 55, things are about to change.

1 large piece of that change puzzle is the house. It’s the place where you shared your hopes and dreams and spent a great deal of time and money. You intended to raise your children there or did raise your children there. Let’s not forget that other than the pension, it is usually one of a family’s greatest assets. What to do with the house is a big decision that you and your ex will need to make.

divorce house

Should you keep it? It was your dream house after all and you didn’t kill this dream!

Maybe your ex should keep it? That way they will figure out how much time and money goes into maintaining it!

Sell the house? I can’t afford to keep it and if I can’t have it, neither can my ex!

The reality is that you have to do something. One of you can buy the other out or you can sell it. Yes there are shorter term solutions like continuing to live together (while being separated) and nesting however there needs to be a longer term solution.

Don’t just keep the house because you have an emotional attachment it, you think others want you to keep it, your ex can’t afford to keep it or that you don’t want to put the children through any more change.

If your children are minors, they will adjust. They will be comfortable in any place that you make home. They are tied to their school, their friends and their extra-curricular activities – not the actual house (unless you have a pool, then they might be tied to the pool haha).

If your children are adults, they will adjust. They have their own lives to live. Although they may be sad to see the house where they grew up sold, they will want you to be happy and financially stable more.

There are memories of the past and hopes of the future tied to your house. It is where the children are most comfortable (no matter what age). There are many emotions tied to these bricks, it was your home.  When thinking about the house however you need to be logical and practical and think about it in a selfish way. What do YOU need going forward?

  • Can you afford it? (I don’t mean just afford it, I mean not be house broke)
  • Can you afford to buy your ex out of his/her equity?
  • Are you willing to trade pension or retirement funds to keep the house? You need to understand which investment is likely to produce a higher return on investment.
  • Is the house the right size for you now?
  • Would downsizing and putting money towards retirement be a better financial option?
  • Be realistic about the condition of your home. Can you afford to maintain it?
  • What are other options if you were to move? Location? Condo? Smaller house? Price?

Contrary to popular belief, decisions around the house should be financial and not emotional during separation and divorce.

A house is only a home when you make it one, therefore it stands to reason that you can make any house your home.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner Separation and Families First Mediation

DIVORCE: Hiring The Most Expensive Lawyer

I was reading a blog this morning about Hiding Assets During Divorce. Yes a little light reading to start my day haha. As a mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst I’m always looking to gain more knowledge that will help my clients. I wouldn’t say that the issue of hidden assets comes up a lot, but it does come up.

I’m writing this blog because I was disturbed by a statement that this US lawyer made during the interview, not because I want to update you on my reading list.

“…hire the best lawyer you can afford.”

Strategy during divorce is very important, especially when it comes to financial decisions.

Strategy during divorce is very important, especially when it comes to financial decisions.

Is that really what divorce has come to? If you don’t have money you are at risk of not being properly serviced by a less expensive lawyer?

As with any profession there are good and bad lawyers at multiple price points, fair enough. Is cost really equal to the best though? I think we can safely say that is not always the case.

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Getting GOOD Advice During Separation Or Divorce

How Important Is Getting GOOD advice during Separation or Divorce? I think the answer is obvious – it is critically important. The real question however should be what is GOOD advice?

divorce advice GOOD advice should help you navigate the      minefield that is created by divorce. A minefield of emotional, financial, legal and practical decisions that must be made. GOOD advice will help you move forward, it will help you stay focused and it will be realistic and logical. What it won’t be is based on emotion.

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Divorce And Your Finances

If people aren’t fighting about their kids during separation and divorce they are fighting about finances. The worst cases are fighting about both.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. It’s important to make informed decisions during your separation.

You need a divorce team; not just a lawyer, to ensure that you have all of the information that you need to make good decisions. Decisions that you are not going to regretContinue reading