Discussing separation or divorce is always a tricky business.
After all, when a marriage breaks down, it is a rare case where each party walks away with a smile on their lips and a song in their heart.
More often, jealously, recriminations, acrimony or guilt, cloud any sensible decision making and you may find down the track, that hasty concessions made in the heat of the moment, are costing you dearly.
Take a friend of mine who is now seriously considering parting ways with her second mistake…err…husband. Although she is fed up and ready to just throw up her hands and go, after twelve years of marriage, she is entitled to take from the marriage what she put in. After all, starting over in your forties, can be very taxing, financially.
The lesson is, don’t act in haste. If you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ and are looking to trade-off or trade-up, read on dear friend.
Consult a cooler head – Talk to an expert
As much as friends and family may want to give you advice, the best person to speak to first, even before speaking to your partner, is an understanding, professional family lawyer. It is best to be armed with as much knowledge as possible before discussing a parting of ways with your spouse.
If you are located in Victoria, consider enlisting a family lawyer in Melbourne who will be able to lay out your options and rights, simply and without prejudice. A sympathetic family lawyer can facilitate arrangements and communication, often preventing long and costly court appearances.
A lawyer can also advise you regarding financial issues such as joint bank accounts and the like. A hurt or angry partner can make things very difficult financially, so it pays to know your rights early, should you decide to leave.
Once you know your legal rights and obligations, it’s time to think about where you are going to live. For those whose family home is rental accommodation, you will need to prepare and furnish an alternate residence.
This is especially true if it’s possible that your partner may make it difficult for you to leave, once you have broached the subject. Have a place prepared, even if that place is temporary such as a friend or family members home. This can make the transition easier than remaining in the family home.
Where there is a shared ownership of a property, it can be difficult deciding which partner will remain in the home. Again, this is where your family lawyer can be your best ally.
Broaching the subject
Often, even though both partners are aware that the relationship is doomed, the party being left can find it an emotionally volatile time. If you think this may be the case, consider organising a friend or family member to be present or close by, when you broach the subject.
Rather than be confrontational, it may be best to couch the issue, with statements such as:
- I think we need space, to get some perspective
- Maybe time apart will clarify what we want / how we feel
Using ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ can mitigate feelings of abandonment and give the feeling that it is a joint decision.
Considering the children
More than half of women granted a divorce in 2015 were under the age of 45. It stands to reason that a great deal of these women would have young children. So, what is the smoothest way to transition the children involved in a separation?
For adults, the stresses involved in breaking up the family home, often equates to people absorbed in their own feelings and they can be oblivious to the effect it may be having on their children.
Consulting a Child Psychologists can assist not only children in dealing with divorce, but can provide parents with tools to discuss the subject with kids in a positive manner.
In many instances, spousal relationships have disintegrated to the point that, it is in the children’s best interest to separate amicably rather than stay together acrimoniously. Joint custody, when both parties have the best interests of the children at heart, can work harmoniously. Again, a family lawyer can assist with putting these arrangements in place.
Dividing and departing
For every amicable divorce, there are many more where one party is hurt and perhaps vengeful. Knowing you as they do, your partner may decide the best way to retaliate is by claiming ownership of something you love.
According to Legal Aid, it doesn’t matter who bought an item, whose name is on a document or conversely, who made a debt, everything is considered in a property settlement. Seriously – consult a good family lawyer.
Coping with change
It can be tempting to weaken and go back into a bad relationship especially if you have been together for a long time and your partner is putting pressure on you to return.
Feelings of loneliness, loss and grief are natural and are often part of the separation process for both parties. People often reconcile a number of times before finally realising that a relationship is never going to work.
If you are seriously considering initiating a separation or divorce, please get some professional advice and know your rights. Forewarned is forearmed and depending on the complexities of your family and property, you could be venturing into a whirlpool of emotions and hurdles.
Most of all, be kind to yourself and take heart – there may be a happier future, just around the corner.