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Who’s who in your separation crew?

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 and how they can help:

Mediators

A Mediator is an impartial professional who helps both people get a fair deal in a separation.

They are there to facilitate difficult conversations — but the couple stays in control and makes all the decisions.

At The Separation Guide, we use our own process: Guided Separation. Our Mediators are all legally qualified. This means they can answer your questions about family law and suggest a range of fair and equitable outcomes.

A Mediator works with: Both people. A Mediator is impartial and on the side of a fair outcome. They can work with you both to draft your separation agreement.

Will you also need a Family Lawyer? It depends. Where there’s less goodwill and trust, but a couple wants to stay out of Court, they can choose to have a Mediator but negotiate through their own Lawyers.

Family Lawyers

A Family Lawyer’s key role is to advocate for an individual.

This can be necessary where communication has broken down, there’s mistrust in the relationship or each partner wants their own separate advice. A Family Lawyer might also be referred to as a Family Law Solicitor.

The good news is, with the right information and guidance, we’ve found that typically, around 98% of couples can avoid Court.

The Lawyers in our network have signed our Ethical Charter — this means they regard Court as a last resort.

A Family Law Solicitor can help when:

    • You need your own advocate for either Mediation or to go to Court.
    • You need someone to convert your separation agreement into Consent Order applications for the Court.

Barristers

A Barrister is an advocate in the Courtroom.

They will take a brief from your Family Lawyer (solicitor) and represent your case to the Judge.

The Judge will then decide on the outcome. This can be a costly but sometimes necessary path. It can take at least 12-18 months to just get your time in Court.

Can help when: You need someone to present your case in the Courtroom.

Psychologists

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 strategies to help you cope through separation — and prepare for the future.

Works with: Individuals; each person can choose to have their own psychologist

> Podcast: A clinical psychologist on how to separate well

Relationship counsellors

Depending on when they’re brought in, relationship 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 psychologist 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.

Accountants

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.

> Podcast: The cost of conflict — an accountant’s perspective on separation

Financial advisors

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.

> Podcast: Planning your finances after separation and divorce

Immigration advisors

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

Property consultants

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.

Want to join The Separation Guide’s network of advisors? Find out more here.