For some separation or divorce can feel like the only way forward, for others it comes as a surprise and a shock. Maybe you’ve been unhappy for some time and you feel you’ve tried everything. Even so, when you’ve children together it’s worth taking time to do all you can to make sure that separating is the right decision. Here are some practical steps to help you with your decision to separate or divorce:
- List the five main issues that you have not been happy with in your relationship. When did they start to be a problem? Was there a time when they didn’t make you unhappy? If so, what has changed?
- List what steps you have taken to try to address them. Have any of your actions made things worse? Could your partner do something differently to address these issues? What could you do differently to address these issues?
- Write down three positive things that you will take from the relationship
- List the ‘pros and cons’ or ‘gains and losses’ of staying together versus separating
- Imagine yourself in 5 years’ time – what would your ideal situation be? How do you see your future self? What steps do you need to take to get there?
- What do you think your partner would find most difficult about a post separation scenario?
- If you have children, how do you think they will react to you and your partner separating?
- If you have children consider how you will care for and be responsible for them after separation. This can help you keep their needs front of mind at a time when this can be difficult. Consider if you will have regular contact and whether you could work with your ex to share responsibility for their clothing, food, health, education and activities?
- What kind of separation do you want? Take some time to consider whether an informal settlement may work best for you or if you want a formal one. If you prefer a formal agreement, can you reach an agreement with your ex or do you need to get a court agreement?
- What would the living arrangements be? Calculate the cost of running separate homes. This can help you negotiate what is fair and manageable.
- Think about and identify the assets and liabilities you and your partner have. By understanding the joint financial position, you will be able to assess what might be a fair financial settlement for you and your partner.
If you feel you have done all you can, maybe it is time to be deciding about the future. It is a big decision though, and one not to be taken lightly. Separating from your partner will have a big impact on your life and if you have them, those of your children.
Most people like to feel that they’ve done everything they could to resolve things before ending a relationship. So, it can help to talk to a relationship counsellor. They can help you come to a decision that you feel is the right one for you. Contact one of our Family Consultants to help you explore your options.