When it comes to separating well, it truly is a team effort.
While the legal side of divorce and separation is often the focus, there are many other aspects to be considered: your emotional health, financial security and planning for your future.
The Separation Guide has brought together a network of experts — so that we can truly guide couples through the entire process.
Here’s an explanation of who does what to help you understand all the ways we can help you through the maze. And don’t worry, you don’t need to know all this! We can help advise you. That’s what we do.
These independent experts help you and your partner reach a separation outcome together — based on your instructions. This is a more cost effective way to separate (while still being supported by an impartial third party).
Our Guides are all legally qualified to ensure that the process is rigorous and they are equipped to advise you if things escalate.
Can help when: You’re on fair and equitable terms with your partner (i.e. you’re still able to communicate well) — and want to try and keep your separation out of the courts.
Works with: You and your partner. You only need one Guide.
A Mediator’s key role is to work with a couple’s independent legal advisors to help them come to a separation agreement together.
In this situation, a couple will seek their own legal advice in order to prepare for settlement.
Can help when: You want to keep your separation out of the courts but there’s less goodwill and trust between you and your partner — and you feel like your own lawyer will help ensure the outcome is fair.
Works with: Both people; you only need one. However, you will both need to engage your own independent legal advisors for the mediation process.
A Lawyer’s key role is to advocate for an individual in reaching a separation agreement.
It’s not uncommon to hear horror stories of lawyers “starting a battle I didn’t want to have” which ends up with everyone in a courtroom. This can be incredibly costly.
Every lawyer in our network has signed our ethical charter — which means they see court as a last resort. The good news is, with the right information and guidance, we’ve found that 98% of couples can avoid court.
Can help when: You need your own advocate for either mediation or the courtroom
Works with: Individuals; each person will need their own lawyer
A barrister’s role is to represent you in the courtroom — they are the ones with the wigs and gowns. They will take a brief from your lawyer and represent your case to the judge. The judge will then decide on the outcome., This is a costly path and it can take 12-18 months to just get your time in court.
Can help when: You need someone to fight your case in the courtroom
Works with: Individuals; each person will need their own lawyer and barrister
Separation is an incredibly tough time. You might feel the need for some additional support to keep your mental health on track — or perhaps a professional in your separation team will observe that you’re struggling and suggest getting help.
Can help when: You want to be in a better emotional state to go through separation — and prepare for the future.
Works with: Individuals; each person can choose to have their own psychologist
Depending on when they’re brought in, counsellors will work with couples to either help save a relationship or create open lines of communication to enable a fair and equitable separation.
If you and your ex-partner are struggling to communicate, a Mediator or Lawyer might recommend you engage a counsellor or psychologists before negotiating a settlement or co-parenting approach.
Can help when: Disagreements and past issues are getting in the way of reaching an outcome — or your ability to co-parent.
Works with: Both people in a couple.
An accountant will help establish the monetary value of assets and income streams in the relationship. This work is essential to enable the division of assets at settlement.
Some assets are easier to value than others. Money in the bank, shares, properties, etc, are usually fairly straightforward while evaluating the worth of a business is more complex.
Can help when: You need to get a complete picture of all the assets and income streams of your relationship.
Works with: Both people generally — as they’re dealing with facts and figures so it’s easier to remain impartial. However, accountants will usually recommend each party seek independent financial advice, especially if there’s mistrust.
A Financial Advisor is part-financial guru part-life coach. They can help someone understand their immediate financial circumstances — and also work on a plan for their future.
That means understanding “what is important to them in their life and where they want to head”, says Steve Fort, a Senior Financial Advisor at Invest Blue.
A Financial Advisor is particularly important where there are complex financial structures involved in the relationship (eg. a business, trust, self-managed superfund or inheritance).
Can help when: You want to get your financial house in order — and start planning for a secure financial future
Works with: Individuals; each person can choose to have their own Financial Advisor.
Relationships might be between individuals — but they’re often across countries too.
Where one partner’s Australian work or residency status is tied to the relationship, an immigration advisor will often be brought to determine their best options, especially if they want to stay in Australia or there are children involved.
Can help when: There are complications due to visa status.
Works with: Couples who are in Australia on spousal visas
Australians love property — which can leave a giant tangle to be unwound in separation. A property consultant can help you determine the best path for your primary residence or investment property and look at the market value of the property then discuss options for selling, renting or transferring ownership of the asset.
Can help when: You have a house or investment property and want to know the smartest way to deal with the asset.
Works with: Individuals or the couple.