Separation is a confusing, emotional and scary time for many. Concerns arise such as are the children okay? Will you have enough money? Where will you live? When will you see your children? What will your future look like?
In an attempt to reduce your stress levels and help you make the necessary arrangements in the immediate period after separation I have set out below 4 important things you should consider and attend to:
1. If you have children, discuss with your former partner how and when you will tell the children you have separated. Will you do it together? Agree upon what you will and won’t say;
2. Agree upon the parenting, living and financial arrangements to be put in place for the first few months after separation. This is what I call a holding pattern. It is designed to ensure your immediate concerns about your children, housing, finances and transport are allayed. Attempt to agree upon where the children will live, when they will spend time with each of you, who will remain living in the home, who will pay what expenses initially and what form of transport each of you will have access to. Unless absolutely necessary, these arrangements need not be formalised. You should obtain legal advice from an experienced family lawyer as to any concerns you have about these issues;
3. Seek out personal support. Reach out to trusted friends or family members. You will need them now more than ever. Separation and the legal processes that follow take an emotional toll. The uncertainty, anxiety and stress that separation brings can cause mental health issues. Consider obtaining professional support from a mental health expert such as a counsellor. Also consider whether your children need professional support; and
4. Promptly consult an experienced family lawyer for initial advice on your separation, the legal issues and the likely settlement and other processes you will need to undertake. Explain your separation, your family situation and discuss your particular concerns. He or she can advise you on the legal issues, what’s ahead and what you should do to prepare. You and your lawyer can then come up with a plan. Unless absolutely necessary, I do not recommend starting the legal process in the first few months after separation. Get advice and start preparing for what’s ahead but don’t rush in until you have come to terms with what’s occurred. Separation is a major life change. Take advice from your lawyer about timing.
Nothing in this article is legal advice particular to your circumstances. You should obtain legal advice from an experienced family lawyer as to your particular circumstances.
My guidebook “Moving On – What you need to know about Separation & Divorce” due to be released in late September 2018 contains more information about what you should consider and attend to after separation.