On Trend For Separating Couples
Written by Marie Fedorov
We’ve all heard of life coaches and fitness coaches, but the latest trend for separated couples across Australia is to head towards the future with the help of a divorce mediation coach.
With a 2018 report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing that the average time time from marriage to divorce in Australia is 12 years, it is no surprise that going through a divorce is a traumatising experience. What’s worse though, is being unprepared for the financial settlements and custody issues that often follow.
With divorce mediation coaching, clients get confidential expert guidance and support specific to their individual and family circumstances. Clients feel supported, heard and have a better understanding of their options so they feel more confident to negotiate their divorce.
This way, they are more likely to avoid court, reduce the costs associated and get their agreements done quickly so they can get on with their life. It is all about helping people negotiate their way to a better future.
Divorce mediation coaching sessions at Family Mediation Station, for example, typically focus on helping clients identify and work through non-legal issues before starting formal mediation sessions with their ex-partner. Mediation coaches play a very specific role that regular legal consultations cannot achieve, such as the screening and assessment that is focused on psychological, emotional and mental issues, including all of the non-legal aspects that can get in the way of achieving an outcome in mediation.
There is overwhelming evidence that people need to be ‘emotionally ready’ before embarking on the formal mediation process. And of course, if the client is ready, it increases the likelihood of sustainable, safe and fair agreements at the end of a marriage.
Despite every situation being unique, we are often faced with recurring disputes that commonly affect the speed at which people can separate. If a client is reluctant about the end of the relationship, the process can slow down dramatically.
Other key areas are children’s arrangements, where reaching a fair financial agreement can often be held up by the relationship and parenting issues rather than legal issues. A lack of financial awareness by one or both of the clients can also sometimes derail the mediation process - it is crucial to know about the assets and liabilities that you both have so you can plan your exit strategy or at least know you will be financially okay if your relationship goes pear-shaped.
In terms of planning, prenuptial and cohabitation agreements are a great way to protect yourself. They are like an insurance policy for divorce as they plan in advance what would happen to your assets in the event of separation. If you are worried about a potential inheritance from your parents being included in your asset pool then talk to your parents to see if they would consider some estate planning to take your situation into consideration.
We also find that there are some common misconceptions regarding family law and the division of assets during a divorce. Despite what many people believe, quite often things are not equally divided - especially if there are young children living primarily with one parent. Another misconception is that if one person was primarily the breadwinner and the other the homemaker, then the breadwinner is entitled to most of the asset pool. This isn’t correct.
It is also important to remember that all assets are taken into consideration, regardless of whose name they are under. You may get to keep a property that is under your name, however it will come down to the percentage that you are entitled to. If you are entitled to 60 per cent of the asset pool and keeping that property gives you 70 per cent then you may have to come up with a 10 per cent cash adjustment to give to the other person.
Also remember that the value of your assets is calculated at the time of settlement. Often people don’t negotiate or formalise an agreement for some time after separation and in the meantime, they decide to save as much money as they can, buy property, receive inheritances and don’t realise that those funds accumulated after separation are included as part of the current asset pool.
Important things to look out for during separation to save yourself financial distress include thoroughly reading and understanding documents before signing, monitoring back accounts and debt levels, ensuring you have access to emergency cash and knowing where proceeds are going from any properties you sell. Don’t believe everything that comes out of your ex’s mouth as they no longer have your best interests in mind - they generally are thinking about their own financial future so you should think about yours.
Legal advice is crucial so that you know where you stand and what to do. Always get legal advice, even if it’s just one consult, so that you can get the information that you need BEFORE making any decisions or agreeing to any proposals.
This article provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is always important to seek professional legal advice.