Monday, 2 October 2017

From Stress to Success

If you are, or someone you know is, one of the many people who find themselves either embracing a new life this year or forced into it, there are five key things we encourage people to consider:

1. What will the journey be like?

It seems everyone has a friend who has separated. So often, the friends have had a hideous experience with family lawyers and the court system and are full of doom and gloom. It’s really important to decide at the outset what you would like the tone of your separation to be. It may be that your separated partner doesn’t want the same journey as you, but it’s a start to know what you want it to be.

If you have kids, is it important to you to be able to functionally co-parent? Do you want to amicably resolve things and move on with your life? Are you happy to spend lots of money and emotional energy having a big court battle or would you rather resolve things far away from the court process?

2. Be supported by those around you, but seek professional advice.

As separation is so common, many people think they are experts. ‘Oh, you’re a mum with the kids – you will get 75%. That’s what my cousin got’ ‘Mate you won’t have to pay her spousal maintenance, my friend from work doesn’t pay anything to his wife’ etc. Family law relies heavily on assessing individual circumstances so what happens for one family won’t happen in the same way for the next.

By all means, be supported by your friends, but don’t rely on what they say about practicalities. Seek professional advice about your situation.

3. Decide what advice you need

It can be a good idea to start with speaking to a lawyer as they can act like your project manager and refer you for psychological, financial and other advice as required. If you see a lawyer who has trained in collaborative practice, they will have a strong emphasis on helping you resolve matters between you in a way that keeps you out of court.

Some people choose to start with seeing a mediator – an independent third party who can help them to have constructive conversations about their arrangements post-separation.

Alternatively, you could start with a child psychologist to discuss arrangements for the children, or with a financial planner or accountant to discuss property settlement and income support. Whichever path you choose, we recommend at least speaking to a lawyer about any potential agreement and how to make sure your arrangements are made binding.

4. Putting things in writing

Remember anything you put in writing to your ex, by email, text etc. can be attached to an affidavit and presented to the court if you end up there. Any even apart from that, words have impact. Think very carefully before you initiate communication of any kind and make sure you re-read anything you’re writing to think about the impact on the person receiving it.

5. If you have kids, take note

The research overwhelmingly concludes that children do okay when their parents separate, provided they are not in the middle of conflict. Remember, your child is half their mum and half their dad. 

Don’t criticize your ex around your children and don’t expose them to any arguments between you. 

Children need to be free to love and enjoy time with both of their parents. Although separation is often painful, with the right support and with time, it will be okay. 

Contact for more information or if you would like to talk to one of us further.

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