Separation and Divorce – preparing for the unpreparable
Separation and divorce is never easy. Regardless of the reasons behind a separation, the emotional journey can be difficult and the legalities around separation and divorce can feel overwhelming.
To help you out: Here’s our guide to preparing for the unpreparable.
Divorce vs Separation
What is the difference between separation and divorce?
The term divorce refers to the formal cessation of a marriage by submitting an application to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Once the Federal and Family Court of Australia approve an application for divorce, all legal connections between formerly married parties’ are terminated.
Separation, unlike divorce, is the ending of a relationship that was never legally recognised. Depending on the nature and length of your relationship, even a separation can have legal consequences.
Why are separation and divorce so painful?
This might be an obvious question, but the answer is multi-dimensional and layered. Of course, there is inherent emotional pain involved in either a separation or divorce. Following the breakdown of a relationship, it is normal to experience feelings of grief, anger, sadness and denial. There is also usually a great deal of change in terms of living, parenting and financial arrangements.
When it comes to separating financial assets, financial loss and change can have significant impacts. Changing from a two-income household to a single income, for example, can impact day-to-day living arrangements and choices.
Individuals going through divorce and/or separation can experience a variety of feelings and for that reason, it is important to be kind to yourself, seek information from qualified professionals and emotional support.
Possible reasons for separation or divorce
Every separation is different and unique and is often caused by multiple factors. Nonetheless, the possible reasons for divorce and separation include:
- Erosion of commitment and love over time.
- Lack of communication or increase in conflict and arguments.
- Infidelity or extramarital affairs.
- Lack of intimacy.
- Domestic violence or abuse (emotional, verbal, physical or financial).
- Money or financial problems.
The Emotional Stages of the Divorce
Following a separation or divorce, there are said to be at least five stages of grief. These stages begin with Denial.
Unlike prevalent misconceptions, denial isn’t about refusing to accept reality or acknowledge the truth. During separation or divorce, one or both parties can simply find it too difficult to process or emotionally accept the experience. There are a lot of considerations and emotions which can cause a person to be in denial and not fully accept the separation is taking place.
If a person moves through the phase of denial, it is common for that person to begin to experience feelings of anger. Especially in instances of infidelity or other associated breaches of trust in the relationship, it is common for there to be feelings of anger.
During a separation or divorce, it is normal to have times of feeling hopeless or vulnerable. Such intense emotions can motivate our minds to want to regain control or determine the outcome of the situation. In these circumstances, a person may start to think statements like; ‘what if…’ or ‘if only…’ in attempts to find solutions and gain control of the situation.
Depression and Acceptance
The final two stages occur after the more active stages of anger and bargaining. Depression can feel like a more quiet stage of the grieving process. Depression can be the result of the deep sadness experienced during the separation or loss. Moving through this stage will result in acceptance. While it may not mean that the person is happy or at peace with the separation or divorce, it may simply mean that the person has come to accept that it has happened and begin to make sense of what it means for their life now.
Tips For Coping With Divorce And Separation
Give yourself a break
Whether experiencing a separation or divorce, despite the reasons behind it, separation or divorce is a difficult time.It is important to give yourself a break and allow yourself the emotional space to experience your feelings. Don’t expect a quick recovery or to simply shrug off the experience. Accept your feelings and understand that it is normal to have them.
Take time to explore
Change is scary. That’s why it’s vital that you give yourself time to explore options and think about your new life. Don’t rush into decisions or hold yourself back from adjusting your life in a way that will help you be happier and healthier in the long run.
Love and validate yourself
Practising self-love and validation may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s actually really important. Self-esteem and confidence can be significantly impacted during the process of divorce & separation, so giving yourself the tender self-love and care you deserve is vital.
Don’t blame yourself or the relationship
When things go wrong, it’s tempting to start ascribing blame. But this is never helpful. Resist the urge to blame yourself or the relationship. It can be easy to look back and taint your entire experience with your former partner. But such a habit can also be detrimental to your ability to move forwards and forge new relationships.
Move forward and be positive
Being positive might sound simple but it’s never easy. While the legalities involved in separation vs divorce in Australia are different, it doesn’t mean one is any easier to move forwards from than the other. But by giving yourself permission to move forward without guilt or shame and being positive about the future ahead, you just might find yourself feeling and living a little better.
Embrace the change
Embracing change is more natural to some than to others. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that accepting change does not reduce its difficulty or the immensity. Embracing the change, warts and all, will however make everything just a fraction easier.
Talk to the expert
If you need emotional or general life support, make sure you turn to the experts. Professional counsellors and psychologists are trained to help guide clients through the trials of separation and divorce. From a legal standpoint, having the backing of expert legal advisors will ensure your financial and parenting issues are taken care of as well.
Things To Consider When You Are Separated From Your Partner
Parenting arrangements are important to consider when finalising a separation or divorce. Talk with your lawyer about how you parenting arrangements can be managed.
Wills & Powers of Attorney
Putting your wills and power of attorney in order after a divorce or separation is really important to ensure your estate is dealt with in the way you wish it to be after your death.
Depletion of Assets
Similarly, without proper legal specification regarding the depletion of your assets you cannot be confident that your estate will be handled in line with your wishes.
Safety and Concerns
While not always relevant, if you have genuine concerns about your or your family’s well being and safety, make sure that you work and communicate with support services who can assist.
A New Way forward after divorce and separation starts here…
New Way Lawyers is a not-for-profit law firm. Our industry-leading legal experts put their minds, hearts and work into ensuring the best quality legal advice is possible at a price point that is accessible for all.
If you’re going through divorce or separation, feel free to reach out to the New Way team today for advice, assistance and support.