Life can be confusing even when everything is going well. Experiences leading up to and through separation and divorce are an extreme, where as humans we are often placed in positions for which we have no previous reference. Relying on the advice of friends and family pushes us in all sorts of directions and can in some cases be good, but in others harmful.
Doing something practical to help sort out what can be done step by step is often invaluable.
However, where to start?
Decide whether you believe there is any chance that the separation and divorce will have any chance of being resolved out of court, in a less confrontational manner. If so, investigate the collaborative model of divorce, (there is information on my website, www.divorceplanner.com.au). If this is not realistic, then you will just have to bite the bullet and see a lawyer who is focused more on a confrontational approach to discuss your initial options.
Remember that a lawyer guides you through the process and understands the law. However, they are not a psychologist, nor are they trained to remodel and optimise your financial situation post-divorce.
Where the children are under stress, it is also important to see a child psychologist early in the process, before you start making mistakes!
Remember that you are in control of your own divorce and if you want to consult with financial planners and / or psychologists it is up to you to decide. Don’t be talked out of it. These other professionals are not a threat to your lawyer, but can provide very positive help to you and enhance the process.
As far as costs go, yes it is more to add on other professionals, but think of the positive outcomes of finding that you can keep certain assets and re-organise, rather than just selling down to cash and losing out to taxes. Or dialling down the emotions and gaining greater understanding through using a psychologist, which in turn can help avoid going to court, or lessen the time spent on disagreements.
Ideally, you should speak with a divorce financial planner either just before or after you first consult a lawyer. A psychologist can then be brought in as the changing family dynamics come into play and both parties are in danger of listening to less than neutral advice from friends and family.
Above all, involving a divorce financial planner helps to reduce some of the stresses of the unknown by providing practical solutions.