Separation and divorce are rooted in conflict. Despite your best intentions, the conflict you experienced in your marriage tends to be amplified – not diminished – during the separation process. The impact of dividing the assets you accumulated during your marriage in half and the significant costs you will pay to professionals often produces conflict and upset far beyond people’s imagination.
No matter what separation process you choose (ranging from negotiation to Collaborative Law, to mediation to Court) you will require the services of more professionals than just family law lawyers. These legal and professional fees can range widely. Here are some experts that you may need:
Expert Asset Valuators: Determine the value of your assets for the purpose of division of property. The most common are Pension Valuators, Business Valuators and Real Estate Valuators.
Experts at Income Determination: Provide an opinion on the income of people who are self-employed or whose income is complicated to determine. They are usually accountants who have intimate knowledge of Family Law.
Parenting Plan Experts: Assist you in building a comprehensive Parenting Plan (assuming that you and your spouse are involved in a process where this type of cooperation is possible). They are usually social workers or psychologists. Parenting plans are powerful tools that you and your partner can use to identify and address the broad range of issues you will encounter during and after separation. People mistake a good parenting plan for relationship counselling.
Parenting Assessors: Assist the judge (or mediator or arbitrator) in understanding your and your spouse’s parenting skills. The assessor may be a social worker, a psychologist or a psychiatrist, depending on the complexity of the issues involved. These professionals will conduct an investigation into your and your partner’s parenting skills and your children’s needs and will present the written report to the judge and all parties involved. Again, this is not relationship counselling and it happens after separating.
Depending on the complexity of a couple’s affairs, the type of separation process chosen, whether there are children, and how adversarial you and the family law lawyers are, these costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is regardless of your net worth and whether you are willing or able to pay. The cost of the separation process is often much more than people expect.