When issues arise during separation you may not know who the right person is to turn to for help.
Should it be a family lawyer? A Divorce Coach? Or a Parenting Coordinator?
What do each of them do and how much do they cost?
A Family Lawyer costs between $480 - $780 p/h and provides legal services to;
Know your rights applicable to the law
Help you understand what your entitlements may be
Draft orders, affidavits, lodgements with the court
Attend lawyer assisted mediation with you
Take you through the court process
Guidance on what is likely to be the best case/worse case/likely court outcome
Represent you in court
Liaise with your ex's lawyer
A Divorce Coach costs $180 - $250 per hour and helps you have the courage and confidence through pre & post separation;
Providing emotional support and guidance, so you feel empowered amidst the confusion, chaos and overwhelm.
Reduce the feelings of uncertainty and fear by prioritising challenges and managing change impacting every facet of your life (relationship, home, financial stability, time with the kids, productivity at work, etc.)
Plan necessary actions to stay future focused to keep moving forward instead of dwelling on the past
Help you plan & role play difficult conversations with your ex, children or boss
Identify what information you need to collate – financials, chronological events & questions to maximise your time in your lawyer consultation
Help you separate how you feel about the breakup shifting from the story of divorce to the business of divorce to be in the right mindset for co-parenting & financial negotiations
Help you work through conflict scenarios to remain calm, not buy into drama so you can take a better option to respond rather than react
Manage hot buttons so you know what triggers you into conflict to avoid it being used as ammunition in court
Practice self-care so you have the strength and stamina to get through challenges
Refer to the right professional at the right time to save money & accelerate healing - Lawyer, Mediator, Counsellor, Psychologist, FDR, Financial Planner, etc
A Parenting Coordinator costs $250-$300 per hour and helps you;
Implement your parenting plan, consent or parenting orders
Resolve coparenting disputes by facilitating co-parenting decisions in a fair and impartial way
Understand how the conflict negatively impacts their children’s behaviour and development
Be a good role model, providing calm and stability in the children’s home life
Facilitate healthy communication between parents by focusing on the major issues in dispute and offering possible solutions
Take accountability and responsibility for shared parenting commitments
Remain child focused instead of personal interests
Help to work through conflict scenarios to choose alternative actions to create a better outcome
Help you remain calm to avoid reacting instead of responding, not buy into drama and understand your triggers that lead to conflict to keep you out of court
When you are in the middle of a crisis it can be hard to know who to turn to if the following issues occur;
1. At handover my child is very distressed, wanting to run to me as I try to leave. My ex’s family restrain my child to stop them….….. Is this legal?
Initially, you may think you should call your lawyer but this is NOT a legal problem, it is a parenting problem.
It is not against the law to restrain a distraught child if it is deemed a safety issue such as avoiding them running onto the road or avoid extending the time the child is under duress enabling the other parent to leave.
The professional to engage is: A Parenting Coordinator to help you work through practical strategies to alleviate stress at handover.
2. My ex is always late bringing the children back to me.
If your orders stipulate that your ex is to bring the child back at 5pm on a sunday then you could engage your family lawyer to remind your ex they are breaching orders or
If your orders stipulate that your ex is to bring the child back 5pm on a Sunday unless alternative agreement is made by both parents, then you can engage a parenting coordinator to help you and your ex develop practical strategies to ensure the orders are adhered to.
3. That’s it, I have had enough I want to leave my husband!
Initially, you may think you should call a lawyer but this is too soon. This is a separation problem.
You may waste time and money telling the lawyer how you have tried everything to make your relationship work and not have anything prepared to have a productive consultation.
The professional to engage is: A Divorce Coach to support you emotionally whilst you plan your exit, collate all the required information to take to a lawyer and walk through how the ‘separation’ conversation could be handled with your husband and subsequently your children.
4. My ex has relocated my kid’s interstate without my permission!
This is a legal problem as parents have joint responsibility for major decision making and a parent cannot move a child where it will impact the shared parenting time of the other parent.
The professional to engage is: A family Lawyer to help you apply for a recovery order to have the children returned.
5. Your ex doesn’t want to communicate with you anymore about the children due to the high conflict, so they get their new partner to take over communication as a shield from your abuse.
Initially, you lash out to the ex’s new partner saying “I'm not communicating with you, it’s got nothing to do with you”. You may think you should contact a lawyer to help resolve this problem, but it is a parenting problem.
The professional to engage is: A Parenting Coordinator to help you and your ex work through practical strategies to communicate effectively to minimise conflict.
6. My wife left and she use to manage the money, I don’t even know how much is in the bank?
Initially, you may think you should call your lawyer but this is NOT a legal problem, it is a separation problem.
You need help to create a household budget, open a bank account and have your salary directly deposited into your account and any bills direct debited. You will then need to identify the family financials, debts, home value, superannuation, payslips etc to collate a summary to take to the lawyer with a list of questions to maximise consultation time on what you may be entitled to.
The professional to engage is: A Divorce Coach to help you work through practical strategies to collate financial information and questions to ask the lawyer to prepare for obtaining legal advice.
7. My ex says that since the house is in their name, I am not entitled to anything
Initially, you may think you should call a Divorce Coach but this is NOT a separation problem, it is a legal problem.
You need to document the financial and non-financial contributions you have made to the relationship since living together.
The professional to engage is: A Family Lawyer who will be able to assess your situation and advise on whether you are entitled to anything.
From the above examples, you can see that there are different professionals for different problems. The key is to remember what each professional does;
A Divorce Coach helps with separation problems
A Parenting Coordinator helps with parenting problems
A Family Lawyer provides legal advice/services
It is so important to engage the right professional for the right problem to resolve your issue!
Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator, and Parenting Coordinator