The new year is a common time for separation. While issues might arise in a relationship during the year, it is often after Christmas that people take the first step toward separating.
This is a difficult time for everyone involved, emotionally and often financially, as couples work through the challenges of separating and starting a new life without their partner.
Here are my tips to make separation a little easier:
Separation is usually very stressful, and you'll need lots of support around you. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what you are going through. It's also worth considering counselling. Many employers now have well-being programs and pay for their employees to have a few sessions with a trained counsellor. The sessions are confidential and often people find even a couple of sessions to be beneficial.
Avoid anything that will put extra pressure on you. This may not be the best time to make big changes in other areas of your life, like starting a business or taking on a new role. Look after your physical health too - get more sleep and exercise, drink less alcohol.
Don't move out
If you're still living together, try to stay in the house together while you're sorting out your relationship property or care arrangements for your children. In my experience the relationship is more amicable while couples are still cohabiting.
Once you're living apart, people start to move on with their lives, which can create new issues. It can be a strain financially too as many living expenses are doubled.
However, if living together is intolerable to your physical or mental well-being, then moving out may be the best thing for you.
Don't sweat the small stuff
Focus on the big things: your children, your living arrangements and the larger items of relationship property. Don't worry about the smaller chattels at this stage.
Be careful using social media
Try and keep social media posting to a minimum. In fact, I often suggest that clients cease posting during a separation. It will not help for your ex-partner to see or hear about all the fun you are having without them.
Try to stay on good terms with your partner
This is a big one and is often easier said than done. Emotions run high and people are not always reasonable; but if you can, try to maintain a good relationship. This will enable a
faster settlement, with less lawyer involvement and less expense. You'll be better off in the long run.
Separating can be a sad and difficult process. Make sure you have a good support network around you and keep on good terms with your partner. The more peacefully you can work through your separation together, the more quickly you can move on with your new lives.
- Jeremy Sutton is a senior family lawyer, specialising in divorce cases where there are significant assets, including family trusts and complex business structures. www.jeremysutton.co.nz