Today we’re going to continue our discussion on family law and talk a little bit about separation and I’m pleased to be joined once again by John Schumann of Deborah Smith Frank LLP John. what is the first step or first thing someone should do when they’re thinking about separation that’s a really important question because the first things you do when you separate set the tone for probably the rest of your life it can determine how you can have the relationship with your former spouse the rest of your life whether your relationship with your kids whether you end up bankrupt how much money you end up paying so what you did do first is very important and one of the things that really impacts and what you do with rest of your life is what path you choose and how you separate from your spouse whether you’re able to negotiate things out on your own or whether you do it one of the alternatives to court because not everyone has to go to court anymore you can work things out using a mediator or collaborative practice or perhaps you need to go to arbitration or having someone just help you work out the issues between you and all that is much easier than in court and may favor some sort of relationship with your spouse maybe you don’t want to have a good relationship with them but at least if you’re parents of a kid you can you’re so good you’re civil and you can still keep parenting together and you also avoid making any big mistakes because there’s a lot of things people do right at the beginning that they don’t know what they’re doing so they really prejudice their rights their prejudice their whole court cases to go to court or what they can get out at the end of the day.
so one things you really need to do is talk to a before you separate or as soon as you separate you should speak to a good family lawyer to get a lay of the land know what your options are and know what you should do and what you shouldn’t do okay so does it make a difference which lawyer they see it actually makes quite a big difference of what type of lawyer you see you really want when you’re separating see someone who specializes in family law and who does only family law because family law is a very unique area of law and it operates different from other areas of law so go see a family lawyer there are also certified specialists and certified specialists or more senior members of the family law bar who have been recognized by the Law Society of how these knowledge and skill in the area family law when you go to see a family law lawyer you don’t necessarily want to pick the one who gives you the free initial consult because what happens in a 30-minute consultation is you get to tell your story for a little bit and then the family lawyer gets to tell you how you retain them so you don’t get much advice in 30 minutes, so with 30 minute free consultations not something you really want you need to look for is a lawyer who’s going to sit down spend some time with you give you good advice like well listen to what you have to say and come up with a plan for you moving forward because good lawyers can come up with a plan even at the first meeting they can see where things are going from the story you’ve told them and they can tell you where you want to go.
So it’s your worth while to spend some money get a good consult with a good lawyer who will set it down a good path for you to follow as you go through a difficult time in your life and how much do how much is a normal good lawyer consultation cost on average well it really varies depending on the lawyer you think some lawyers charge about $100 for a consult some charge seven eight hundred dollars for a consult depends on how senior the lawyer is and you do get what you pay for when you of course because yeah because the reason lawyers get $700 an hour because they’re good at their job because they’re very good job and they can deal with complicated matters and even if you want to go to a consult with a good lawyer who is very expensive chances are he had some other lawyers who can if if he says you know I’m too expensive for you don’t need my skill for your issue because it’s not quite as complicated as what not you as you think I can maybe refer you to another lawyer in his office who can give you a charge is less and still is very good at their job all right John so how do you pick a good lawyer well there’s two important aspect of that when you want someone who is a good lawyer and knows what they’re doing just sort of talked about the second did you want some is a good fit for you often you see people who advertise it we will fight for your rights and you have to think to yourself before you go to a we will fight for your rights type lawyer whether you want to have a fight for your rights whether you want to have that big fight through court for a long period of time you may not new you may not need it or you may not want to have that sort of fight with your spouse you may want to work things out more easily and with less distress for your kids so you may want to look at other options rather than a fight for your rights lawyer if you want to get things done and if you want to get things done I always recommend to people come to see me that they check out the cloud to practice websites now you don’t may not want to do collaborative practice but collaborative practice lawyers they’ve all been has additional training to do collaborative practice they’re all focused on getting the job done and getting you to where you want to go as opposed to focusing on the fight so if you want to get things done then that’s a good place to start but before you go to any lawyer do your research find out what kind of person they are and whether the type of person who’s going to steer you to a fight you don’t want or try to get you to settle on a settlement you don’t want you know you have to find the lawyer and the process that works best for you all right John so let’s say one of our viewers they’ve contacted a lawyer are there things that they should do first when they’re contemplating separation well there are some things they can get together that will help make the process go more quickly the first is when you could separate you’re going to need three years of tax returns.
So if you have your three years of tax returns around bringing them to when you first meet with a lawyer will only help get things going quicker you’re also going to need your bank records and your debt records and all the you know so your financial situation all the documents into your financial situation so gain those together helps if you know where your spouse keeps their records and you can make copies of them then that helps as well if you can go make copies of their records don’t steal their records don’t hide their records don’t destroy their records because all those things are illegal if you get caught you’ll be out off in the wrong foot something else you might want to think about is if you’re having difficulty but the emotional side of the divorce as opposed to like a lawyer through the legal side but if it’s the emotions that really have you upset and then you want to speak to someone about that so you want to find a counsel or divorce coach to help you with that, because lawyers aren’t good at helping the emotional side but those people are and finally if this is you having a a sort of a big blow up at the end of your relationship, if there’s violence in your relationship, then you have to consider a safety plan and if you need to have there’s people who could help you with a safety plan.
There’s counselors can help you with that but if you don’t have someone you know that your local police can help you with a safety plan before you separate and make sure you stay safe all right so are there things that people shouldn’t do there’s several things people shouldn’t do I can get them to real trouble if and when they separate the first is don’t leave the house until you’ve spoken to a lawyer unless there’s some safety concerns especially for you of kids don’t leave the house because if you leave the house with the kids you can be kidnapping if you leave the house with out the kid you can be giving up custody of the kids so don’t leave the house until you spoken to a lawyer and let’s say somebody does leave the house would that be considered like abandonment not really abandonment but it is a if you had leave the kids behind it can really impact on the custody battle because the person who stays behind has what’s called de facto custody of the kids because the kids are with them they’re looking after the day-to-day so having kids best stay in the house unless their safety issues and if there are real safety issues then you should get out of the house and if the you are concerned about yours and your children’s safety then you do have to leave the house and that you don’t stay in the house in a violent situation but you have to be realized that you’re going to be questioned about whether or not it was reasonable for you to leave the house so make sure you are legitimate we have safety concerns and if you do then get out some other things that you need to think about when you or you don’t want to do when you separate is you don’t want to start recording conversations because that you’re not a party to because if you leave bugs around the house or tape recorders going around the house that’s a violation of section 184 the criminal code it’s against the law you can be criminally charged for it so don’t do that don’t steal things from your spouse, don’t destroy their valuables again against the criminal code that gets things off the wrong foot and also you really don’t want to start trying to hide your own assets because if you start hiding your own assets, you get caught and you’ll look dishonest and you know your spells resort authority who’s your credibility, your spouse will go to court and you’ll be off going to court whether you want to or not.
You know trouble with the judge right from the beginning so don’t go on go don’t go off hiding things and also when you’re separating from your spouse you’ve got to think about how you’re going to separate from them and if you’re going to do it in a big fight with a big blowup then that’s going to really impact how things go down the road if you sit down and have a more calm conversation with them then that may lead to things working out more calmly long term which is what most people want all right so is there anyone else you should speak to besides a lawyer well I spoke already about going to see like a divorce coach or a counselor that’s an important when helped with emotional side another person you may want to speak to is if you’ve got complicated financial issues you may want to speak to an accountant or if you have an accountant already speak to your accountant about how to organize things and how to get all the documents you need for your financial planner, that’s right financial planner as well good times picture of financial planners probably before you separate.
If you don’t have the same financial planner as your spouse because they can help you organize things especially conjunction with your lawyer to make sure you don’t have things we don’t want them to be when you separate where assets are to make an effect on property division so best to leave things where they are until you speak to someone about it and lastly if you have kids and you’re going to separate or maybe right after you separate it’s good thing to tell the kids teachers and the other professionals they’re involved with so that the teachers know that you’re good to go in through a hard time and maybe their swim coach or their other hockey parents so that when they see that your child’s a little bit upset they know why and perhaps they can offer some additional support and if they need additional support then maybe you want to speak to a child therapist as well because a difficult time for kids and you can make it a lot easier for them doing the right things all right so how do you approach telling your spouse that you want to it’s this is a this spend a lot on who your spouse is and what kind of relationship you have with them and how things have been going on lately a good thing to do is I’m not an expert as a lawyer on emotional size and how to talk to people so that’s another good time to speak to another professional like a again a therapist or a divorce coach but before you have the conversation you really want to think about it and plan it out because you do have that big fight you start things off with a big fight you may be in for a long term big fight but if you can have set have it set off so that you have a nice calm conversation about it things may work out more calmly in the end.
If you have a big fight their expense them you can use all your money in the fight whereas if you able to have a discussion about it you save yourself a lot of lawyers fees and yourself a lot of stress as well all right John so for today’s final question do you have any last tips for anyone that is about to begin the separation process well in your separation you’re separating for someone your separation is different from everyone else’s separation and your family is different from everyone else’s family so it’s difficult to generalize and little facts and family law can make a big difference so with one of the biggest if I can give to you is go see a good family lawyer right at the beginning either before you separate or right after you separate and that family lawyer will be able to tell you what you’re where, you stand in terms of the kids, in terms of the finances, in terms of everything else whether you should leave, whether you should stay.
That family lawyer will all speed to tell you what all your options are how to work things out which plan is the best for you because the number of ways you can go when you separate and a good lawyer will be to tell you which path is the best for you and a good lawyer also has good connections to other professionals who can help you so if you’ve got complex financial issues and the Lord o be able to free to an accountant or other financial professional to help you work through the financial issues and to good you know a counsel or other person who can help with the emotional side because we see each other a lot counselors and accountants and family lawyers.
So a good family lawyer will get you to all the professionals you need and get you on the right path and tell you where you’re going to go and maybe me I’ll tell you where you can end up at the end and that’s how you know if you’ve got a good person working for you because they can tell you where you should be going and how you’re going to get there alright John great stuff thanks for coming on today’s show and I’m looking forward to seeing you again sometime. I’m looking forward to it table so there you have it if you’re about to start the separation process and need the help of a top family lawyer get in contact with John Schumann of Deborah Smith Frank LLP.