What if my partner and I agree on what to do after we separate or divorce?
1. Discuss what legal issues you can agree on
After you learn what the law says you can get and what you have to do when you separate or , you and your partner can try to agree on your family law issues without going to court.
You have to make decisions on important things like:
- who your children will live with
- who pays child support and how much child support should be paid
- who needs spousal support, if anyone, and how much spousal support should be paid
- dividing property if you’re married
- dividing property if you’re in a common-law relationship
You can also discuss what happens if one of you doesn’t follow your agreement. For example, you may decide that you and your partner have to first try or to work out your issues before going to court.
Usually you need to discuss things before you can agree on them. You can do this in person, over the phone, or by email. If you don’t feel comfortable talking or meeting with your partner alone, you can ask someone to be with you. This could be a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a religious advisor.
You can also get help from a lawyer or family law professional, such as a mediator or arbitrator. Family law professionals are trained to help you reach an agreement or make a decision for you. They use (ADR) or family dispute resolution processes, to help you resolve issues out of court.
In family law cases, you must think about using ADR to resolve your issues out of court if it’s suitable for your situation. ADR might not be right for you if:
- one person is afraid of another person because there is a history of family violence
- there are serious mental health or drug abuse issues
If you have a lawyer, they should also tell you about different ADR options and if they think a certain type of ADR is suitable for you.
You can use ADR whether you’re or in a . And you can usually use ADR for any issue, except a divorce. If you’re legally married, you have to go to court for a divorce. But you can still think about using ADR to resolve your other issues like parenting arrangements, , and support.