So you’re thinking about separating from your partner? Most people agonise for a long time over their decision to stay or go. It is never easy, so there will be a lot going on in your head right now. If you end up deciding to separate, like most people who have made that decision, you will probably not be sure where to start or what to do. Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for working through your decision, and for separation and divorce if you decide to go down that path.
First things first, make an appointment to see a counsellor. You are facing a big decision, and it helps to have someone to discuss your concerns, doubts and fears with. A counsellor is an expert when it comes to relationships and working through emotions, so it’s good to be able to talk things over with them. Sometimes, just talking about something out loud can help you make a decision.
If you don’t already have a psychologist, you can visit your GP and ask for a referral. Alternatively, visit the Australian Psychological Society website to find a registered psychologist.
If you do decide separating is right for you, your psychologist can support you with the tools to talk to your partner and your family about your decision, and help you to deal with the grief of a breakup.
A divorce can only be applied for after a year of being legally separated, so when you do decide to separate, make sure you have something official to mark the date, such as a change of address.
Then you need to decide how you’d like to get divorced. Every situation is different, and if it is a case of any emergency or risk to any family member, we recommend you seek legal advice early on.
For other cases, you have a few options. The first decision to make is do you want a kind divorce or a conflict-ridden divorce? That will impact which route you take. This may seem like a silly question – who would want an acrimonious divorce? – but you may be angry and not thinking with the bigger picture in mind. Stop, think about what you want your future to look like for both you and your family, and make a decision that will help you move towards that goal.
Together, research your options and seek out advice. There are different options out there that don’t include going to court, such as collaboration or mediation so see what’s available and what will work for your individual case. Make sure that the first person you speak to is not a litigating lawyer, or the chances are that’s the kind of separation you’ll end up with.
Probably one of the most important steps for being able to move forward with your life is getting clear on your financial situation. In many relationships, each spouse has their own responsibilities in the relationship, and so may not both be across their finances. Work with your financial planner or accountant, find out what assets you have and what you owe, and what your family’s spendings are. You and your spouse need to be honest with each other, so you can go into your settlement completely informed and understanding what your family needs. It is also a good idea to develop a budget for yourself and your children.
This may seem like a lot of work, and at a time in your life when you might be struggling emotionally, but it is important in order to go into the divorce process in the best way. However, it doesn’t have to fall to you alone. The help and support is out there. One of the benefits of team collaboration is that the experts and the help you need is all in one place.
What you need to do is make the decision to have a kind divorce, and reach out for the help you need to make that happen.