Right now, you are probably most concerned about:
- speaking to your partner about separating
- financial security
- the type of housing you will live in
- how separation might affect your children
- avoiding conflict
- having an amicable relationship with your spouse
- creating a new life
- your wellbeing
These are the conversations most people want to have when they find themselves facing separation, but none of them is even mentioned in the Family Law Act.
The Family Law Act talks about dividing money and assets, it talks about ‘best interests’ of children, but nowhere does it contemplate any of the emotional, heartfelt , heart-stopping moments you are going through.
It’s strange isn’t it, that there is such a mismatch between what you are looking for and what you are apparently supposed to be looking for? But, that’s the legal system for you, and what that tells you more than anything, is that your separation probably isn’t a legal problem at all.
What can you do to stop your separation, and your life, from becoming a legal problem?
If these ideas resonate with you, it’s good to know that there are some really practical and important things you can do, right now, to take charge of the kind of separation you want.
You may invite your spouse to work with a relationship therapist, whether that is to stay together or to separate as kindly and respectfully as possible.
If you are struggling with the very idea of separation or speaking to your partner, reach out for help. GPs and counsellors are familiar with this dilemma; speak to them, and get the help you need to make your decision, whichever way it goes, and to speak confidently, kindly and safely to your partner.
You will need advice and support to understand your options, and especially creative options, for the practical decisions ahead. Getting that support from collaborative practitioners and mediators offers you the best chance to get to your post-separation goals, such as having an amicable or workable future relationship with your spouse, healing and recovery, and being confident that your kids are OK.
Keeping in mind what matters most to you, even when that seems daunting, will set you on the least distressing path through your separation. If you are focused on the concerns in the list above, you have the chance to make sure your life doesn’t turn into a legal case. Choose appropriate advisors, and choose them carefully; decide to listen to the professionals who are speaking your language.
Have the confidence to believe that you can create a match between your hopes for the kind of separation you have, and the reality.
And by the way, you will probably end up seeing a lawyer at some point along the way. Choose a peacemaking lawyer, a collaborative lawyer or a mediator. If the lawyer you see is none of these, RUN.