When married couples need to separate, the process of untangling their life together can be daunting. Often a bad situation gets even worse. One of the tools provided by the BC government is Form F8. This is the official financial statement that is required from separating couples by the BC Supreme Court. Form F8 tells a judge about the couple’s finances to help decide about support or division of assets. Learn more from the BC Legal Services Society.
Even if the parties don’t go to court, their lawyers will often ask them to fill out the form as a routine part of the process of taking an inventory of their assets and liabilities and documenting their income situation. The results of this inventory can help determine child and spousal support as well as be a basis for division of assets. In the interests of full disclosure, some mediators also require parties to produce a Form F8 prior to the commencement of negotiation of financial issues.
Now Smartsettle Family Resolutions Inc. has taken much of the mystery out of that daunting task with an easy step-by-step process that quickly produces a downloadable PDF. If you need a Form F8 you can get started right away. If you discover that you are missing some information, you can simply save your work and continue later. This service is completely free if you do it yourself. If you would like assistance in crafting your agreement, a Family Dispute Resolution Professional from Smartsettle Family Resolutions can work with your lawyer in a non-adversarial process. If all parties agree to collaborate, Smartsettle Family Resolutions can also offer the parties an alternative process using the Smartsettle negotiation process support system. Smartsettle facilitators work with separating parties to model their problem and produce the most satisfactory outcome for themselves and their children.
We recommend this recent episode of Rex Murphy’s podcast in which he explores how the Canadian justice system has priced itself beyond the reach of average citizens. This highlights the tremendous need for cost effective innovation that Smartsettle Family Resolutions brings to this industry.
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What is one to do when faced with a marital separation? How is one to understand their situation going forward? What will each person have available to meet their most basic needs once their life together legally ends?
At first glance ending a marital relationship may seem simple, straight forward, done!. This is never the case. The marriage/common law relationship will have lead to a merging of two lives beyond the emotional connection we initially think about ending at the time of separation. Each of the parties will need assistance to become un-entangled from the other. If the parties do not received sufficient assistance one or both will suffer emotional and financial wounds that are unnecessary.
Assistance is what today’s Mediators and Lawyer-Mediators are trained to provide. The Mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Professional is trained to facilitate both parties as they negotiate a fair arrangement. The Mediator is focused on assisting the couple reach an Agreement that states clearly where each of the individuals now stands in relation to the other person. But what happens when the Mediator needs assistance, when the agreement becomes so complex that the Mediator also feels overwhelmed. What happens when negotiating all of the issues in an agreement simply becomes too much, too many issues, too many interconnections, too much heavy lifting, so easy to become confused, so easy to not receive what you really want in the final Separation Agreement.
These are the questions that mediators often think about. They are the kinds of questions that impact every mediation professional and every client seeking their services.
It seems that the ability of computers and computer software is already recognized in fields where complex interconnected issues need to be addressed and where decisions need to be made. Computer software guides us through our outer space challenges , the challenges of business, the need to connect socially and now is available to assist in the negotiation of complex, emotionally challenging agreements.
Someone has said that “Necessity is the mother of invention”. If so then mediators and their clients are certainly looking for an eNegotiation software that will help them move from complexity and confusion to reach a fair and stable Separation Agreement. Smartsettle Family Resolution Centre claims to have the staff and the computer software able to address today’s complex Separation Agreement requirements. Could this be true?
If you have children you know the sound of little voices coming from the back seat plaintifly asking “are we there yet”? This is also one of the feelings associated with the journey towards a Separation Agreement or Divorce Order. In discussions with Smartsettle Family clients many tell me the experience is like being on an out of control rollercoaster. Having seen a series of rollercoasters over the years I think this is an accurate description. Much of the separation and divorce literature uses this analogue so if that feels right to you hold on for a ride of deep valleys, careening corners, slow pulls to the next crest and the anticipation of the end as you come around the last corner.
Bargaining is the first in our final three Emotional Stages associated with Separtion and Divorce. Bargaining may be the last time either spouse exhibits hope the marriage might be saved. Often a person reviews their life looking for things they could change for the sake of restoring the marriage to happier times. Much of the literature I surveyed suggests this is the stage when we learn our limitations. At this time it becomes clear that we are not in control, especially not in control of the feelings, thoughts or intentions of our spouse.
Letting Go is a decision that each person does have control over and after struggling to save the marriage and turning yourself inside out to understand why the other is disatisfied it often feels like a milage sign indicating the end of the journey. Letting go of the hope for a restored marriage does allow each person to think about what a future after marriage “needs” to look like. A Separation Agreement is the immediate document that provides each person with a clear understanding of how the property division will occur and how the parenting responsibilities will be shared. Once a person has “let go” they often seek practical steps to begin planning for a solid predictable future. When a person schedules a meeting with a Family Dispute Resolution Professional/Smartsettle Family Facilitator they take the first step toward clarifying what they need, entering into a formal mediation process with their soon to be ex-spouse , using the Smartsettle eNegotiation system to make sure the negotiation is timely, fair and nothing of value is missed.
Acceptance is the final emotional stage on this difficult journey. Acceptance is past focussed and allows each party to acknowledge that the marriage relationship is suspended and likely over. Acceptance is also future focussed allowing parties to engage Smartsettle Mediators/Facilitators and Family Lawyers in the negotiation and creation of the Separation Agreement. At the end of the Acceptance Stage you will want to know what is happening with the house, what about our shared assets, how will the parenting time be shared and who will take on various parental responsibilities. Accepting, Acting, Seeking mediation services and Finalizing a Separation Agreement, these are the steps that allow each party to move forward into the future.
Recently I did a survey of the literature around Emotional Stages of Separation and Divorce. The emotions associated with separation and divorce were consistently the same as the feelings triggered by the death or loss of a loved one. For those of you facing a separation or divorce this observation will come as no surprise. What might surprise you is how profound the grief feelings may be.
In an earlier blog I noted the separation and divorce experience is different in tone and set of feelings depending on whether you have initiated the marital disruption. Still the core experience holds true for both parties. When one party has moved from disatisfaction to action ” I want to separate” or “I want a divorce” both parties enter a nether world in which a rollercoaster of feelings and stages await. Denial, Hope, Shock ,Bargaining,Letting Go and Acceptance all line up to greet you and they may greet and accompany you on various parts of this journey. The reason It Feels So Bad at the beginning is the feelings and stages do not ask for your permission to appear they just show up and continue to show up as each party works through the end of the relationship and the formalizing of an agreement that outlines what life will look like during the separation or post divorce, post marriage.
Denial may be the stage that uniquely affects the marriage partner who has not initiated the separtion. I can’t believe this is happening”, “surely we can go to counselling and work this out”, “I know he/she still loves me” are just some of the thoughts that come to mind during the Denial Stage.
Shock is experienced as a kind of mind/heart numbness, replaced at moments by intense rage, only to be swept aside by waves of panic. Fears may dominate raising questions like how will I survive financially, will the pain ever end and is it possible to love again?
Bargaining, Letting Go and Acceptance Stages still wait to greet you and accompany you on your Separation or Divorce journey.If the intense roller coaster journey was all one could expect then we might say with Dante” Abandone hope all you who enter here” but it is not.
Skilled and caring mediators and family lawyers also wait each person on the Separation Agreement of Divorce journey. They are present to provide a safe place to talk,mediation services,and out-of-court family agreements. If you chose to seek a mediated agreement using Smartsettle Family you will have the additional power of a computer software working to make sure your agreement is fair and in your best interest.
Yes it will feel bad.Yes the stages will be difficult but there is help available in your situation.
Every relationship is unique, every partner special. At the beginning of a relationship it is clear that the person we love is one of a kind, exceptional and irreplaceable. But later other emotions can emerge, emotions that are connected not with the beginning of a relationship but with the couple separating temporarily or seeking the finality of a legal divorce. Emotions like feeling distant replace passion. Feelings of satisfaction are exchanged for discontentment while choices to avoid real problems replace long conversations and the commitment to get this relationship thing right. Partners survey their options considering the pros and cons of separation/divorce and may develop a separation strategy before they are even sure this is the path they will choose to walk. All of these feelings occur while each party experiences layers of fear, depression, grief, denial and anxiety. Is it any surprise that people coming to mediators and lawyers sometimes say they feel like they are going crazy?
People involved in stage two of the separation/divorce process often talk about feeling ambivalent or just generally discontented with their partner. It is at this time that one of the parties often suggest that marital counseling is needed. If you are thinking of separating or divorcing it is likely that you have already seen a counselor, explored what is and is not working in your relationship and tried unsuccessfully to change or change your partner. You may have gone through a honeymoon phase, gone on a vacation, given the relationship one last try. Sometimes this strategy does rekindle the flame of relationship but if you are reading this blog I suppose that is not what happened for you. Finally in this stage of marital decision making many parties experience a roller coaster set of emotions that come with bringing everything out in the open. Feelings of tensions vie with feelings of relief, doubt wrestles with feelings of certainty.
During Stage Two feelings, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a Smartsettle Family Dispute Resolution Professional. Each professional is committed to listening carefully to your thoughts and concerns. They will help you sort through a myriad of conflicting feelings and will assist you to explain what you really need from this situation. If you need a formal separation agreement then the Smartsettle team will be able to help you with the mediation, making sure you get the best legal, family and financial advice throughout the process.
Emotional Stages of Separation and Divorce
Has anyone told you there are identifiable “emotional stages” experienced by people involved in the separation and divorce process? If someone told you this would you believe them? I suppose some people find comfort in the knowledge that others have already experienced and survived stages of life that still lie before them. Others may be suspicious of any information that takes what feels like a unique experience and reduces it to somewhat predictable stages. In the next four blogs I will outline emotions connected with stages of the separation, divorce experience. Hopefully the knowledge shared in this blog along with good friends, an excellent lawyer/mediator and the use of the Smartsettle Family eNegotiation system will provide you the assistance needed during this difficult time.
Remember separation or divorce can feel very different for the party who initiates the decision as opposed to the one who receives the news of the impending breakup. This sounds intuitively true as the two parties start from very different places even as they head toward the same destination, separation or divorce. The parties who begin the process report feeling guilt, relief, more guilt, impatience, resentment and fear. The parties who have not initiated the process are often shocked, experience a sense of betrayal, feel out of control, acknowledge a loss of self-esteem with the accompanying feelings of victimization, anger and insecurity. Often this array of negative emotions come with a corresponding desire to reconcile. This is a confusing time to say the least!
Have you initiated or received information that places you in the middle of a separation or divorce process? Watch for more blog postings that outline emotions you can expect to experience. Meanwhile rally some friends to support you and contact Smartsettle Family for assistance.
The Family Law Act (2012) is now fully implemented in British Columbia. Family Lawyers, Mediators, Parenting Coordinators and companies bringing family law technologies to the public are all studying the legislation, rules and regulations to see what it all means.
Common-law relationships fall under provincial jurisdiction in Canada so like Las Vegas, “what happens in BC stays in BC”. The way common law relationships are understood in Ontario or the very different way common law relationships are regulated in Quebec will have no effect on common law couples separating in British Columbia.
If you live in British Columbia common-law relationships are generally understood to describe couples that live together in an arrangement akin to marriage. While there is no ceremony or legal documents to indicate marriage 2 years of living together as a couple or one year and a child born to the couple equals “common law status”. In British Columbia the laws that affect married “spouses” will now apply to those who are considered a “spouse” in a common law relationship.
Remember in British Columbia, couples living together for two years, or a couple living together one year and having a child together are entitled to a 50/50 split of shared debts and assets not including property or inheritances acquired before the relationship began.
Common law and married couples are encouraged to read the new Family Law Act to understand what has changed and how it will affect the division of property and the care of children, now called Parenting Time, should you choose to separate from your “spouse”.
Lawyers and Mediators associated with Smartsettle Centre for Family Resolutions are ready to assist you during this time of confusion and change.
This is why the recent B.C. ruling is unique, because now, couples who have been living together for two years are entitled to a 50/50 split of shared debts and assets — excluding any pre-relationship property or inheritances.