This is a guest post from Kasey Fox, from Farrar Gesini Dunn Family & Collaborative Law. Learn more about Kasey over at the FGD website.
Separating from your partner is a stressful experience, and the process can be overwhelming, but it is important to get advice from the right people as soon as you can, to make sure you are protected. Once you have your team in place, you will be able to explore all the options available to you.
First, you need to see a lawyer who specialises in family law. A family lawyer who is an expert in family law can give you advice specific to your circumstances on a range of issues including arrangements for the children, division of property, child support, spousal maintenance, divorce, whether you should move out of the home, if you can change the locks, what documents you need, what options you have to reach a settlement and what is a realistic likely result if you end up in Court.
Another key person to have on your team is your accountant, particularly if you are exploring property settlement options or child support. If you are like most of us, your accountant probably knows more about your finances than you do. By ensuring your family law solicitor and your accountant know what the other is doing, you can create a settlement which is the most tax effective in your circumstances.
A financial planner is also recommended. They can help you decide whether a particular settlement is financially viable for you and what your financial forecast will be after the separation.
If you are exploring refinancing a home, your next stop should be a mortgage broker. They can advise you about your borrowing options and whether you can afford to keep your home. And unlike your lawyer or accountant, they do it for free!
Speaking of free, you may also want to consult a local real estate agent. They will provide a free appraisal for your home and some will happily advise about buying options and the market in the future: all relevant considerations for someone looking at a property settlement.
Separation is also an important time for you to consider your estate plan. This includes reviewing your will (or drafting a will if you do not have one) and advising you regarding powers of attorney. Death is not something we like to think about, but it is going to happen to us all, so you may as well make sure that your finances are going to the right person.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should consider seeking some emotional support. Separation can feel isolating, but you are not alone and there are a lot of services available. If you don’t know where to go, just ask a member of your team. Lawyers are terrible counsellors, but we know a lot of very good people we can refer you to.