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Collaborative Custody Divorce

What I wish for clients before they start divorce proceedings

I wish clients would empower themselves before they start the process. I wish they would see that there is nothing wrong in feeling vulnerable, scared and angry, but that the way they act on those feelings is very important. Divorce can change your life forever, positively or negatively.

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Over the years I have developed a workshop called Divorce by Design, which prepares people for divorce from an emotional and legal perspective. After much experience I believe that divorce is 80% emotion and 20% law.

During the Divorce by Design workshop I prepare the clients for the emotional journey by giving them tools to deal with anger, fear and resentment. As a coach and facilitator of various self-development courses for 15 years, I am qualified to take people through the journey.

I further believe that divorce, like many projects in our lives, is about preparation. What do people need to prepare for? In this course I deal with the emotions first, then children and lastly, finances.

When it comes to finances my mantra to the clients is ‘know your figures’. What do I mean by that? The more knowledge and evidence you have about finances, the better your case. Let’s first deal with children’s maintenance:

The maintenance act states that both parents are liable for the children’s maintenance according to their means. How is the maintenance calculated? The maintenance court has issued a form with a list of expenses that it deems to be basic. Although I have successfully argued in court that the children’s portion of the communal expenses should be split equally with an adult receiving maintenance, it is now the norm, based on case law, for maintenance to be split so that one third is for a child and two thirds for an adult.

The calculation of maintenance is not a wish list, but is based on reality. It is therefore important that the real needs of the children and self are established before the final maintenance can be calculated. This can be done during a separation, where the parties live apart. If there’s no separation, it is advisable that the parties keep detailed records supported with till slips and invoices to prove all expenses. For child maintenance we are after the children’s full expenses in both homes.

The total of children’s expenses is then divided pro rata to the income of each parent. What creates confusion is where there  is no agreement about the expenses or the real income of the parents. The expenses are also important when spousal maintenance is payable. The more accurate information the parties have, backed with evidence, the less confusion and conflict there will be.