Whether you decide to negotiate the terms of your separation agreement on your own or with the assistance of a third-party, it is important to get certain things finalized before calling it a day. This is for your own future well-being. It can be tempting to leave things undone because it is emotionally and psychologically draining to attend to the terms of a separation agreement, however, to save yourself headache and heartache later on here are somethings we suggest you should absolutely finalize before resting your weary heart and brain:

1. Shared Property

Figure out what you are going to do with any property you share. If you own a house or land together, determine what will happen with the property and attend to signing any title transfer documents as soon as possible. It is okay if negotiating your property division takes a long time, but it is important to decide what is happening with all shared property prior to applying for a divorce. If you leave property as a loose end and finalize your divorce you may forget about shared property and if you are still on title and maybe even listed on the mortgage this can be problematic for you in the future.

2. Finances

Some people will need spousal support to move forward with their lives. To avoid having to pay retroactive support, which can be financially devastating, determine how support will be paid and in what amount as soon as feasible. It is normal for this to be a difficult conversation and for this negotiation to take long time, but as previously mentioned, if it is not figured out until later the amount payable can be quite significant.

If you have children, work together to figure out how the children will be provided for. Child support is the right of the child and it is important to figure out the details as soon as possible so the children can continue to be provided for in the same way they were when their parents were together.

3. Divorce

There are times when separations do not result in divorce. It is helpful while negotiating the terms of your separation that you discuss if the separation is leading to a divorce. If you do want to get a divorce, it will beneficial for you to sort out the details of how that will be attended to. Once you have parted ways with your spouse it may be difficult to be in contact with each other, and if you lose contact with one another it might be expensive or complicated to finalize the divorce.

4. Benefits

If you have your spouse listed on your benefit plan, it is important to have the conversation about if they can remain on the plan or if they will be removed. Some plans require separated spouses to remove their former significant other from the plan, while others may allow you to have your spouse listed until a divorce is finalized. This discussion is important to have because it might be financially significant for the spouse being removed from the plan and they may have to make new arrangements for their healthcare.

5. Policies

Many insurance policies will need to be updated when a separation occurs. If you want to change beneficiaries, cancel an insurance plan, or change ownership there will likely be paperwork that needs to be signed. Attending to these details while you are working on the terms of your separation agreement is helpful so that you don't find yourself in a bind later on if you can't get a hold of your former spouse.

6. Parenting

If you have children together you will need to work on a parenting plan. Parenting plans will likely need to be updated regularly and will usually change over time as your children grow. It is helpful for separating parents to work out the basics in their initial negotiations about their separation and remain flexible throughout the years as adjustments need to be made. Some parents find it helpful to put in their separation agreement when their parenting plan will be reviewed and updated; this can help avoid confusion and conflict later on.

7. Sentimental Items

Many couples have items that have high sentimental value, but low substantive value. Figuring out what will be done with these types of items while you negotiate the terms of your separation can be helpful. It can be difficult to remember where things have been kept and to avoid future conflict it is often helpful to determine who is going to take which items.

8. Responsibilities

Sometimes upon the closure of a spousal relationship there are things that need to be done, such as cancelling insurance policies, updated benefit plans, closing bank accounts, etc. It is helpful for separating spouses to decide who will do which task while they are negotiating the terms of their separation; this can help to reduce the likelihood that anything gets forgotten.

9. Fees

When a couple separates there might be costs associated with the separation. It is helpful for separating spouses to determine who will pay for what so that one spouse doesn't feel like they are paying for everything and the other spouse is not contributing.

10. Debt

Many couples carry shared debt or debt is held in one person's name, but the credit was used for the benefit of the couple as a whole. When negotiating the terms of a separation it is helpful to figure out how debts will be settled and how each spouse will contribute. It is common for this to be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation, but it is important to figure this out during the initial separation to avoid interest accumulating among other problems that could occur.

We hope you found this brief list helpful - for more help with separation, contact us to book a consultation:

Are you starting out on your separation and divorce journey?

It's very common to have some unsettling thoughts and emotions.

Knowing that you are not alone can help you manage your "weird feelings".

Here are some common ones you might be experiencing:

1. "Am I doing the right thing?"

So often we are bombarded with information about how difficult divorce is for people and for their families. Because of this information, you might be second-guessing your decision. Seeking out a separation specialist, divorce coach, or therapist might help you learn strategies on how to have a good divorce. It's true that separation and divorce can be difficult, but with the right support network you will be able to get through it and come out the other side thriving!

2. "As a couple we are already in so much financial trouble - divorce is expensive - maybe I should just stay in this..."

It's true that separation and divorce can be financially stressful, and for couples already struggling with their financial health this can be the nail in the proverbial coffin. That being said, divorce does not have to throw you into bankruptcy. Finding a divorce financial expert, financial advisor, or accountant and discussing your situation with them can help you craft a plan for how to become more financially healthy at the end of your divorce. Though you might be pinching pennies during the separation and divorce journey, making wise financial decisions during the process and having a plan for when the proceeding is finished will set you up for financial success post-divorce.

3. "Should we stay together for the children?"

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the affect of divorce on children. Seeking out good, well-sourced articles and books can help you decide what will be best for you and your family. It has been suggested that the best upbringing a child can have is one free of toxic trauma, so if your relationship is causing harm to your child by exposing them to disputes between yourself and your spouse, separation and divorce might be the best thing for your family. Many therapists, social workers, and child development experts can help you determine what will be the least traumatic way of moving into a new family system or improving the family system as it already is.

4. "My spouse and I are friends - I don't want a separation and divorce to harm our amicable relationship."

Separation and divorce can get ugly, however, there are many ways to separate and divorce in a positive way. If you and your spouse want to have lawyers help you through the process, seeking out lawyers who practice Collaborative Law can keep you out of the realm of litigation. You might also choose to hire a mediator. Mediation is a process where you and your spouse stay in total control of the outcome and have a mediator assist you in going through the steps necessary to separate and divorce. Some people choose to only use mediation, and others choose to use mediation and have lawyers review the agreements at the end to provide independent legal advice. There are also other ways to separate and divorce in a positive way - talking to a counselor or trusted advisor can provide you with guidance on the best process for your situation.

5. "I'm the one leaving the relationship. I don't think the other person should have to pay me anything or part with any of their belongings."

Even if you are the one leaving the relationship it's important to think carefully about important decisions like foregoing spousal support or waiving equal and equitable property division. Relationships end for a wide variety of reasons and a person does not need to feel guilty or like they have to compensate the other person for the closure of the relationship. Speaking with a therapist, divorce coach, or other trusted person can help you work through your feelings regarding spousal support and property division. Talking to your lawyer and/or your mediator can also help you understand the importance of setting yourself up for success in your post-divorce life by making equitable decisions about support and property during the separation process.

Maybe you have another weird feeling or thought that keeps coming up for you - if you do, we encourage you to seek out someone to speak with about what's going on for you. Divorce is difficult and you do not have to do it alone. We are available for coaching and for mediation services - please contact us to book a consultation and to start your separation and divorce journey in a positive way:

During this uncertain time, you may be finding it difficult to communicate with the people who matter most.

If you are going through a separation, divorce or currently co-parent with an ex-partner, you might be finding it extremely difficult to communicate in a productive way.

Many services you might have used to help you communicate or reach agreements might not be available to you now. Finding a new way to handle disagreements will be necessary for your sanity.

Here are some suggestions that might help to patch you through your conflict during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Online Mediation

Many Mediators have taken their practices online and can now offer their services to you from a distance. If you have a Mediator you already work with, contacting them to see if there are options for continued service during this time might be a great place to start. You may also want to Google search for Online Dispute Resolution Practitioners. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada might also be able to provide a list of Mediators who offer online services.

2. Online Counselling

Just as many Mediators have taken their practices online, there are many Counsellors who are now providing services online. If you have a Counsellor you are familiar with, contact them to see if they have moved their practice online. You may also want to ask friends and family if they have a recommendation for a Counsellor. Even if you are separated, divorced and/or in a co-parenting situation, Counselling can be extremely helpful for getting on "the same page" as the other person. If the person you are in conflict with is not willing to attend Counselling with you, taking advantage of Counselling for yourself can be a great first step toward resolving the conflict you are experiencing.

3. Online Arbitration or Adjudication

In some situations you might be past wanting to talk through the conflict you are going through. If that's your situation, you might want someone else to make the decision for you to resolve the conflict you are experiencing. There are Arbitrators and Adjudicators who are still providing services through this pandemic and they might be able to help you. Look to your local Alternative Dispute Resolution Regional Affiliate to receive a list of available Arbitrators.

4. Consider an App

If you are co-parenting with someone you are in conflict with, consider alternative means of communication and scheduling, such as an App. There are free options available as well as more robust subscriptions. Our Family Wizard and WeParent are great options.

5. Conflict Coaching

If you simply cannot get the other person on board with any of these suggestions, just as with Counselling, you could hire a Conflict Coach. A Conflict Coach could work with yourself and the other person or just with you. A Conflict Coach can help you figure out how best to manage the conflict you are experiencing and can work with you to strategize on next steps. Many Conflict Coaches provide online services. If you already know a Conflict Coach, contact them to see if they can help you from a distance. If not, Google Conflict Coaches. Many Mediators also offer Conflict Coaching services, so if you find a Mediator you would like to work with ask them if they also offer this complementary service.

We hope this list helps you consider new ways that you can find a resolution to your dispute. We are offering all of our services online and are happy to schedule a consultation with you using video conferencing. Contact us for rates, availability, and to book your appointment.

© 2019 by The Marriage Mediators.