If you and your partner are separating, do you always need to get a lawyer involved? The short answer is yes. The not-so-short answer is that it depends on your exact situation. The frustrating thing about making these decisions is that every situation is unique, and there is are no roadmaps that fit all situations.

Some couples are able to separate amicably without any legal intervention through processes like mediation, and that’s great! That doesn’t mean they are any better than a couple who does need to consult a lawyer, though. It’s all about using the right tool for the right job and viewing the situation as objectively as possible. In a lot of situations a lawyer helps the separation transition, even if the couple is not at each other’s throats.

The benefit of independent legal advice is vital as families transition to a separated relationship status. A lawyer, in this case, would ensure that each party is being treated fairly and within their legal rights. To quote a phrase I learned while working as a land surveyor in university: “Good fences make good neighbours.” Lawyers may have to make some judgement calls when it comes to a separation, and that doesn’t always leave both sides satisfied with their side of the fence. When we are able to participate collaboratively in where our boundaries get set, like we do through mediation, we are much more likely to respect and adhere to those boundaries and leave feeling more content.

So before a party is unceremoniously served and unflattering affidavits written, if parents transitioning their family to two separate households can come together in a safe, calm mediation space the possibilities of finding common ground are endless. More important than that, it saves the parties involved a whole lot of stress and worry if the process of mediation works for them, in turn preserving the children and overall families wellbeing.