We're separating, what now?
The decision to separate is never an easy one. Whether the decision was yours, or your partners, you're still likely to experience a roller-coaster of emotions.
Even when a separation has been expected, it's common to feel a sense of shock or numbness as you begin to work through the practicalities that the decision involves. You might also feel anxious about the future and overwhelmed by the number of decisions that you need to make.
If you hadn't wanted the marriage or civil partnership to end, you may be feeling powerless and angry about what's happening as well as experiencing sadness and loss. You can read more about how to cope during this difficult time at How do I move on after divorce?
On top of the turmoil of emotion that accompanies the ending of any relationship, there is a whole host of practical issues to address and important decisions to make about your future. Unfortunately, with all the emotion that accompanies a divorce it can easily feel overwhelming. This is a time when you need to get the support and advice of other people. You might also find it helpful to write down all the things you've got to deal with. Your list might include:
- The Children - this of course is the most important issue. Deciding how both of you will continue to provide support and time. You'll need to think about access arrangements, child care, telling the school, seeing in-laws, birthday and Christmas arrangements. You'll also need to talk to your partner about what to say to the children and how to manage their emotions. You can get more help on this at My partner and I are separating. I'm worried that our kids are going to suffer. I want to sort things out with my partner so at least, we can carry on being good parents.
- Property - you'll need to decide who will live where. Can one of you stay in the same house or will you sell up and both move. Who will get what from the home and where will pets live.
- Finances - running two homes inevitably means surviving on less income. You'll need to agree financial support for the children, and who will pay what essential bills. You'll also need to agree on separating any savings and/or debts that you have and set up separate bank accounts.
- Friends/Family - who will tell parents/siblings/extended family members and friends. How much will you say and who needs to know what? How will you maintain mutual friendships and handle relationships with in-laws.
- Personal Survival - what practical steps do you need to make to ensure you cope during this difficult time. Which friends can support you practically, and which emotionally. How can you ensure you have space to relax and space to grieve. And what treats can you reward yourself with when times are tough?
Mediation services can help separating couples come to an agreement around arrangements for their children as well as sorting out issues like finances and property.
How Relate can help:
Parentline Plus - provide a range of services to support parents throughout separation.
Resolution - offer details of solicitors who practise a constructive and conciliatory approach to the legalities.
Citizens Advice Bureau - advice on money, housing and legal issues.