People sometimes come to us for pre-separation advice. That is before they have made a decision to end a relationship or marriage. Sometimes they want to talk through the pros and cons of embarking on the path of separation and divorce and other times, they know that they wish to separate but want to end the relationship in the best way possible.
Making the decision to end a marriage or de facto relationship is difficult. If you are seeking to understand how to end a marriage or de facto relationship in a way that is empathetic and as positive as possible, this article highlights what we have witnessed helps many people end their de facto relationships and marriages, well.
To answer the question, ‘What is the best way to separate from your spouse or partner?’, we have narrowed our insights into five key considerations to keep in mind.
1. Determine Where Everybody Is At
Upon separation, information gathering is often the first stage of the formal process of separation as it relates to the assets you share between you. It may not be suitable to progress with these next steps involving your partner immediately when you are aiming to end your relationship as peacefully as possible, particularly where your partner may not see the end of the relationship coming.
When we assist our clients, whichever side of the relationship they are on, we are mindful of where our client is ‘at’, personally. We tailor the assistance and information at that point to what their needs are. Sometimes that means that people come back and see us months or years down the track, or not at all, depending on what they ultimately decide to do.
If you are the person initiating a separation, it is likely you are at a different ‘stage’ of the process to the other person. As people go through stages at different times and in different ways, this may affect their ability to cope and address the steps that follow on from a separation.
2. Familiarise Yourself With The Grief Cycle
For anyone interested in learning how to end a marriage well, we often start by pointing them to the stages of grief that people typically go through.
The Kubler-Ross Grief Model breaks grief down into five stages of loss:
As people go through the stages of grief, they may display different behaviours or actions. Importantly, be aware that this process is not linear and each stage can take longer for one person to move through than another.
3. Focus on Minimising Conflict
Certain actions or events may be triggering or affect how you, or they, may feel about a situation.
Knowing the stages and where you and your partner or spouse are at, among them, is important.
Being aware can help you both identify which stages you may each be in, at different times. Being aware and discussing the stages you are in can help you both communicate better or identify a need to reconsider the timing of certain conversations.
4. Give Them (And Yourself) Time and Space
As we have explored, where you are in your relationship doesn't necessarily match up with your partner is mentally or emotionally. Some people will need some time and space to think, or get support to work through what they need to, and it's appropriate to give them some.
Recognise that your partner may need time to grieve your relationship and require space to work through their feelings. You may already have been through this process, especially if you've been considering divorce for some time.
Both of you will need to work on the most pressing issues, but other issues may be able to be parked. Sometimes leaving a little bit of time to pass can be desirable, providing there is not anything urgent, or that might be detrimental to you not to have acted upon. A good ‘holding pattern’ can avoid escalating a situation when the other person isn’t ready. Being mindful of the time you and they might need, is very important particularly early on in the separation and divorce process.
5. Seek Out Support
In our work we see people going through the stages of grief and while they may think they are at a certain stage, something may happen that sets them back or triggers a feeling or reaction. The breakdown of a relationship is one of the most significant loss events in people’s lives, so seeking support is vital, regardless of whether it is you that has ‘called time’ on the relationship, or not.
Your support may come through friends and family or with a professional, like a counsellor or even a coach who is outside of the separation and divorce field (or both!). Seeking support is particularly important in the early stages as you negotiate a significant period of change.
You Will Get Through This
Although your situation may be difficult right now, know that the passage of time does help.
From time to time we receive updates and insights from people who are further down the road on this journey you may be embarking on. While they acknowledge that it was a really difficult time, once they managed to work through the process, they discovered there can be silver linings.
Just as with any challenge or difficult situation, it may be hard to see any silver lining right now, but there can be positives that ultimately come from these big life changes.
Related Articles: How To Divorce Well: Working Together To Plan Your Life Apart
Phillips Family Law is an award-winning Family Law practice serving clients across Australia and abroad. Regardless of where you are in your decision-making process, we can make you aware of your options. To discuss your situation confidentially, phone (07) 3007 9898 or secure a time by filling in our confidential form here.
Disclaimer: The content in this article provides general information however it does not substitute legal advice or opinion. Information is best used in conjunction with legal advice from an experienced member of our team.