Mediate the ELEPHANT in the room!

Big elephant in the living room

There’s an ELEPHANT in the room!! Mediation helps clarify and manage that elephant.

That elephant has been the subject of money throughout your relationship. It’s a tough subject. Not because arithmetic is complicated, but, because the subject is loaded with emotional baggage. Multi-generational values and beliefs made the elephant bigger than it needed to be. Mediation helps!

When a relationship ends, that baggage of emotionally charged money matters needs to be opened. It has to be scrutinized, clarified and divided. This is no easy task! To make matters worse, emotions have sky-rocketed. You plans and dreams have exploded and the future is uncertain at best.

Help is at hand from a Qualified Financial Mediator.

BC’s Family Law Act was designed to help families stay out of court. It directs families to “Alternatives” such as Mediation and Collaborative Practice.

When money is an issue, couples, lawyers and coaches call on Financial Mediators and Neutral Financial Professionals in Collaborative Practice. That specialist should have decades of experience and training in financial matters, Mediation and Collaborative Practice. There should be no sales agenda and complete neutrality to help you with that elephant!

When there are emotional issues or concerns about the children, there are Mediators and Collaborative Professionals who specialize in mental health. How much better to have a mental health professional guide you through the emotions of separation than a lawyer or financial person? In this way, people have support from specialists in Law, Mental Health AND Finance.

It might seem counter-intuitive to think that this can be a cost-effective solution. But, it is. How much better is it, to have a financial specialist sort out your financial confusion? Less time, less cost, more clarity and better to have one financial document than fighting over two different ones. The long term benefits are dramatically better than dragging a family through the agony of litigation.

Yes, help is at hand for that big financial ELEPHANT! That’s what a Neutral Financial Mediator can do for you.

Patricia Lalonde,
CFP, Qualified Mediator, Neutral Financial Collaborative Professional

What Will the Children Remember?

Happiness is-----

Happiness is—–

The Financial Agreement and Parenting Plan documents are the two most important aspects of any family separation, regardless of whether the parents intend to get divorced or not. How well these documents are prepared and adhered to will have the greatest long term effects on the children and the family, leading to peace and balance or conflict and chaos.

What is a Good Financial Agreement?

It starts with one clear document listing all the financial instruments. This document is best created by one Neutral Financial Professional (NFP) working closely with the couple. The NFP does not sell anything, so there is no conflict of interest. Each of you provides all your financial documents and meets with the NFP to discuss your current situation, and your ideal desired outcome. Throughout the process, you are likely to have questions, and the NFP will be pleased to provide answers to your questions while you work towards solutions for the best outcome possible. Many people have 3-way meetings with the NFP’s. In these meetings, both partners meet with the NFP to discuss their finances. This is an opportunity to hear and be heard, to clarify misunderstandings around rules and regulations, and to get onto the same page for creating a solid agreement.

In the process of gathering and clarifying the financial information, the financial professional teaches the couple about the rules and regulations that apply, filling in any gaps in knowledge. Understanding tax rules that apply when money changes hands or assets are sold; knowing what kind of pensions are held and the options and restrictions attached to them; knowing what the home or businesses are worth and understanding “guideline income” for support calculations are some of the issues you need to clarify before you can negotiate a solid financial agreement.

A solid, clear financial document creates a level playing field for decision making. You and your team are all working with the same information and that dramatically reduces the chances for confusion and conflict. A solid Financial Agreement provides the family with Safety and Security.

What Makes a Good Parenting Plan?

An effective parenting plan is a document that outlines how parents will raise their child after separation or divorce. There are many differences in what constitutes a good parenting plan and which strategies are less effective and harder to deal with after the fact. Clear parenting plans do not have to use legal terms or be difficult to understand. A thoughtful, well considered plan will become a living document that can be tested, then revised as the needs of the family and the children become more clear and adjustments are made.

Parenting plans typically focus on describing and preparing for parenting arrangements such as:
How important decisions affecting the children and family members are made;
What information is communicated and how it is shared between the parents;
What activities each parent will participate in, and when each parent will be the “parent on duty” with the child,;
How parenting concerns, conflicts and issues will be addressed and resolved.

A well-considered parenting plan will reflect the needs and interests of the child and reduce conflict between parents by having clear guidelines and reasonable expectations. Research has demonstrated that children adjust and cope more successfully with their parents’ separation or divorce when parents have the skills and are able to co-operate with each other. Effective parenting plans consider the ages and developmental needs of the children involved and outline strategies specific to these needs and developmental goals. A professional parenting plan checklist will identify issues to consider when developing the plan for your family.

You Know Your Child Best . . . We believe that parents know their child best and will have the greatest positive outcome on the process, if provided the opportunity to be involved. There may be some issues in the checklist that do not apply to your situation and there may be others not listed that are unique to your situation.

We are Trained for You, Your Finances and for Your Children. We can all work together for the children because children and adults need Peace, Family Stability and Predictability.

Peace includes parents who have resolved their issues and will create two homes for the children.

Family Stability includes quality time with both parents, their extended families and close friends.

Predictability includes an understanding of where the children fit in each of your homes and your new adult lives.

When you are challenged to find safety, calm and a more reasonable approach to your need for a good plan, please pause — then ask yourself if you would be willing to allow us to assist you. With a well thought out, professionally prepared plan for the care of the children, and appropriate protections of family finances in place, you can avoid entirely many of the typical complications separating families face. Your current well being and the future of your family will depend upon this step.

We can meet with you at your place, or at one of our offices in New Westminster, Surrey or Vancouver.

Patricia Lalonde, CFP, QM, NFP
Mediator, Neutral Financial Professional     604-605-3149

Gerry Bock, MA, RCC
Mediator, Collaborative Coach (Child Specialist), Co Parenting Coach, and Parent Coordinator     604-574-6555

A new relationship?

Are you in a new relationship? You’re planning to live together, share your lives and your responsibilities?

What have you decided around the subject of money?

As a Financial Mediator and a Neutral Financial Professional in Collaborative Practice, I have worked with hundreds of couples. Couples who’ve been together for decades and never agreed about money matters. They never knew how to talk about it and lived in stress about money. Then they came to me to sort out their financial matters at the end of their relationship for aPeace and Gratitude Separation Agreement.

In every one of those couples it was so sad to see a situation that could have been rectified at the beginning!

Yes, we get the money sorted out so that they could separate it in half and go their own ways. Yes, some of those couples go their own ways.

BUT, some of them have reconciled! They told me that they learned things about each other that they never knew. They told me that this was the first time in their lives that they could talk about money and it was the first time they could agree on a plan! The light went on in their eyes and they understood money and each other in a whole new light.

It’s those experiences, those wonderful brave people who inspire me! They remind me of how passionate I am to be able to guide people through the confusion to a place where they can focus on the things they have to be grateful for.

I would love to help you to avoid needing my specialized money skills at the end of your relationship. Let me guide you to peace and gratitude in your healthy relationship with money.



A strong foundation for a Solid Separation Agreement!

One Financial Document created by one Neutral Financial Professional involving both clients is a foundation for a solid Separation Agreement.

When I work with clients as a Mediator or as a Neutral Financial Professional we create one document that both people understand and agree to. Then we go forward to have discussions on how to separate it all. Dividing the money can be a difficult process at the best of times whether there are a lot of zeros in your net worth or a negative. However, it can be even worse if you have two different views.

I’ve seen situations where I was brought in to “put out fires” that began by having two different financial documents created by two separate lawyers and the clients had been fighting in court for years over the discrepancies. The problem could have been avoided right at the start if I had been engaged to work with both clients to create one document that they both understood and agreed to.

Bring me in at the beginning and we’ll create a strong foundation for a solid Separation Agreement!

You’re going through a Separation. Right?

You’re going through a Separation. Right?

It’s not easy. It can be emotional, confusing AND expensive. In the midst of all of these issues, you have important financial decisions to make.

You want solid Neutral Financial advice from someone with experience and training in this specialized area of practice.

I’m a Neutral Financial Specialist and Mediator focusing on exactly what you need right now. I will talk with you and your spouse and we will decide if we are comfortable working together through this vital part of your separation process.

Our first task is to gather all of your financial information. You’ll get a list of documents that we need and from that I will create One Clear Neutral Financial Document. Since you are both working with me as I create this document, it will be a document that you both agree on. That means your costs are lower than having two lawyers creating two separate financial documents that are often different. AND, That means you won’t spend expensive legal hours arguing about it.

Our second task is to make sure that you and your lawyers understand the rules and regulations that apply to the various financial assets and debts that you hold.

The teams of lawyers and coaches that I work with, love this process because they see the vast benefits to you, their clients. We work together to resolve your separation OUT-OF-COURT through Collaborative Practice or Mediation.

I really look forward to working with you.
Call me at 604-605-3149



Financial Fear

Does this story sound familiar?

Financial Fear

Avoid separating over money!

You can avoid separating over money. You have it in you to create solutions you can be proud of and stay together.
We all carry money baggage from generations of entrenched beliefs. That can lead to money battles in a relationship.
Think about it;
Stay together

Stay together

How do you feel about money?
How did you learn to manage money and who taught you?
What is your multi-generational story about wealth or its lack?
Now, ask your spouse to consider these same questions. You might be in for a surprise.
I would love to use my specialized skills and wisdom to help you avoid separating over money issues before deciding that divorce is the only solution.
Let’s talk.
There are many reasons for relationships to end and, of course, I work with separating couples who have complicated financial lives. I unwind, clarify and guide people through the financial maze to help them find financial solutions for their separation agreements.
However, it’s often abundantly clear that separation could have been avoided if money wasn’t such a difficult subject. In fact, many clients tell me exactly that! “I wish we had met you long ago.”
Learn about your history, talk about your goals and make realistic plans for your lifetime stream of income. It can be a gold mine!
With a little help, you have it in you to create solutions you can be proud of.

Thoughts of Gordie and Colleen

Gordie and Colleen009 (2)

It was the summer of 1988, Gordie and Colleen and I spent a weekend together in Westport, Ontario. The whole thing is a treasured memory.

We were involved in a project that would have seen an “Old Timers Hockey Center” created on a piece of land by the the Big Rideau lake. There was to be a Victorian style Inn with big porches and turrets near two big new arenas. Gordie was to be the promoter of the center. That’s how it came together.

We had a boat tour of the lake. Colleen stood at the rail with me and chatted about meeting Gordie and their life together. She also talked about the hardships of low income and no pensions when Gordie played hockey. She told me how hard she fought for those rights and how things have changed.

Later she said “Come with me, you have to see the beautiful room we have, here at the Inn.” It was indeed beautiful. As we walked around in the town, people would stop, stand, stare and smile before they said “Oh my gosh, Gordie Howe! Can I shake your hand?” Gordie was so friendly and obliging with everyone.

The next day there was a big lunch planned with town council and the people involved in the project. So there were a few dozen smiling faces in the room. At one point someone mentioned his elbows. Gordie and Colleen were on either side of me and Gordie looked at me and said, “Yes, these elbows get me into trouble. One time I was in an elevator full of people and I started to turn around to let someone in. Then! I hit a woman right in the chest with my elbow. I was so embarrassed and it must have hurt. So, I apologized, “I’m so sorry! Did I hurt you?”

I was pretty caught up in his story and felt his embarrassment. Everyone was standing around listening.

Then he continued telling me “The lady said “Oh, Mr Howe, it’s all right, I’m not really hurt. But, I tell you, if the rest of you is as hard as your elbows…… here’s my room key!”

Well, Gordie and Colleen burst out laughing and so did everyone else. I just turned beet red. Gordie said “I knew you would blush!!”

Thanks for the great memories Gordie and Colleen! I’m ever grateful to have known you.







What does a “Neutral Financial Specialist” Do?

I am a Neutral Financial Specialist in Out-of-Court resolutions. I guide people through the money jungle and walk them to a clearing. People show me all the time, that with guidance and clarity they have it in them to create solutions they can be proud of.

The effect we have on others is the most valuable currency there is.

Patricia Lalonde, CFP - When you can't see the forest for the trees

The Money Jungle!

I love what I do.

Is it better to Rent or to Buy?

The New York Times created this tool to calculate the risks and benefits of rent vs buy. In the Lower Mainland we often ask ourselves this very question. Of course, we don’t have the ability to deduct our mortgage payments from income tax as do our American friends. However, this is still a very useful tool to help you make that important decision.

Is it better to Rent or to Buy?

During the transition phase of Separation this question becomes especially important when it comes to the family home decisions.

All the best in your decision making.