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The Canberra Separation Network is supporting families better through Separation and Divorce

The Canberra Separation Network is changing how families are supported through one of their most traumatic events – divorce.

Many families do not know who to turn to, what they need to prepare for their separation journey and how they can minimise conflict for their children.

Aarti Arora, Partner at Mazengarb Family Lawyers outlines that “many clients need emotional support to be able to give instructions to their lawyer.”

As a Divorce Coach, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, NMAS mediator and Parenting Coordinator, I see clients rush out to engage lawyers straight away. In doing so they miss the vital step in seeking support to prepare, plan and emotionally detox ill feelings of their breakup. This empowers them to be in control of their parenting or financial agreements.

Aarti and I have created the Canberra Separation Network as the supported pathway for families in Canberra to have a network of professionals to help them through the key stages of their separation journey. From Divorce Coaches, Lawyers, Mental Health professionals, financial teams, and Parenting Coordinators creating a separation network of professionals all with the key objective for families to have court as a last resort.

The current legal pathway is not supporting families effectively, often leading to high conflict and high financial cost. Lawyers negotiating on a client’s behalf can take months as well as tens of thousands of dollars without an agreement made. The legal team often hand hold clients from the onset of separation right through the court process which can take 1 – 2 years, or longer and $100K+ per party.

Before a court application for parenting can occur, parties need to do mediation as a pre-action to go to court. Often lawyers are struggling with helping clients who are emotionally distraught, consumed with grief or fearful of the uncertainty of their future. Largely because those clients are unable to make a decision and provide instructions to their lawyer of the pathway that is best for their family, despite legal advice.

Often clients can encounter an adversarial legal pathway whereby the alternative supported separation pathway provides the emotional support and empowerment for families to reach an agreement that will work for their family.

For lawyers to send clients to mediation without the required emotional support can be detrimental to negotiating an agreement. Often, they get stuck in blame, look back at past events and fight for what they can get for themselves, which can result in non-agreement.

In the Canberra Separation Network, our professionals understand that emotional support is key to helping families be future focused, child focused, minimise conflict and engage the right professional at the right time to minimise cost and accelerate healing.

By engaging a Divorce Coach, clients can reduce overwhelm, confusion and panic so that they can prioritise their challenges and plan future actions from an informed position. This helps them uncover where they are at and where they want to be, so that the actions required to get them to their end goal can be managed and tracked with renewed hope of helping their family transition and adjust to the new family structure.

A Divorce Coach helps clients plan and prepare so that they can maximise their legal consultation to be well informed prior to going to mediation with a view of what their best-case scenario, worst case scenario and a couple of options with which they could live with. Often emotional support uncovers the fears of resistance to help alleviate those fears to create a win/win solution.

This enables them to have an open mind to negotiate in mediation rather than being positional with their best-case scenario only. This just makes the parties lock horns in battle, often resulting in no agreed outcome exclaiming “See you in court.”

The pathway models below show the current legal pathway which is high cost and high conflict versus the supported separation pathway leveraging a Divorce Coach for emotional support and preparation. Think of it like a triage in the emergency department. You do not go to hospital with a suspected broken leg and immediately see the surgeon ready to operate. The surgeon is the most expensive resource at the hospital, so you would not have the surgeon take down your health history notes, plan your treatment, or do x-rays. So, why would you use a lawyer, one of the most expensive divorce resources to vent to on how hurt you are, how scared you are of the uncertainty of the future, role play conversations about how to tell the kids delicately that you are separating, collate the family net asset pool, identify how the children are coping with the separation and uncover pre-separation parenting to plan post-separation parenting, and so on. 


You engage lawyers for legal services NOT for emotional support, preparation, and planning. Be empowered to reach agreement together, rather than getting lawyers involved until you are feeling calmer, feel more in control and can look at the separation journey from a holistic view of the impacts on the whole family, not just you.

All of our professionals in the Canberra separation network are committed to supporting families during their separation journey to ensure they are getting the right help from the right professional at the right time.

If you are a family in Canberra ACT needing help and support through your separation to achieve a cost-effective supported outcome, reach out to;

Cheryl Duffy at The Divorce Centre or

Aarti Arora at Mazengarb Lawyers at


Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, NMAS Mediator and Parenting Coordinator



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