Wednesday, June 24, 2020

When it's Over: Separating from your Spouse in a Healthy Way

When a marriage breaks up, whether it’s just a trial separation, a more permanent separation or a full-on divorce, it’s a devastating and stressful time. Dealing with the feelings and the fallout caused by the dissolution of a long relationship can be heartbreaking, to say nothing of the added stress involved with splitting up finances, belongings, and a potential custody battle. Worse, it takes some time for these issues to be resolved; it’s not a quick fix in most cases. 

Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto

    While it’s inevitably going to be a hard time no matter how you look at it, there are ways to make your separation go a little easier. 
    The first thing you want to do is talk to your soon-to-be former partner as civilly as possible, and try to come to an agreement to keep things civil and friendly. It can be hard when feelings are running hot, and there’s heartbreak and anger on both sides. But if you and your ex can keep things civil and calm, it will go much easier for both of you, and healing can come much faster. 
    Hiring a family lawyer is also a very important step in the marriage separation process. Even the most amicable of splits require a lawyer in most cases; just to make sure that division of property, finances and custody agreements are all done above-board and fairly. Hiring a lawyer doesn’t mean that you don’t trust your ex or that things will turn nasty; it’s just ensuring that you’re protecting your assets and property, as well as doing things the legal, proper way. Make sure you take the time to get quotes and if possible, consultations with a few different family law firms/solicitors in your area, to determine which one can best represent you. Preferably, you’ll choose a lawyer who has experience and a history of good settlements in similar cases to yours. 
    Once you’ve chosen a lawyer, you’ll begin the process of legal separating. This includes agreeing to and signing any initial or temporary custody and housing agreements (these may be modified later by a judge or with a further settlement); arranging for any supports such as child support or alimony; division of property and belongings; further discussions, agreements and settlements; possible court appearances in the event that a settlement can’t be reached, and finally, signing a final agreement, divorce papers, and so on. Your lawyer will be there to assist with the majority of this, and it will usually take place over a period of months (years in some more involved cases). Generally speaking, the more amicable and agreeable the parties are, the faster the process goes, though any good lawyer understands fully that this isn’t always possible. If you have extenuating circumstances that make it hard for you to be amicable with your former partner, don’t feel that you have to acquiesce to their demands or expectations just to “keep the peace”. Your lawyer will make sure you are taken care of and that any settlement you reach is fair and just. 
    Once all documents are signed and everything is final, you’ll begin the process of moving on with your life. This may mean moving to a new home or city; learning to parent on your own or dealing with an empty home; getting used to a new financial situation and budget; or just dealing with being on your own again. Be easy with yourself and take the time to heal from the separation. Don’t put too high expectations on yourself right away. Separation is a process that takes time to get used to. If you’re having trouble dealing with your feelings or moving on, don’t be afraid to speak to a therapist or professional about your feelings. They’re there to help. 

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