What happens in separation? Your emotional, physical, and legal journey.

Separation can be one of the most devastating life experiences we face. Most of us will either be touched by it personally, or through a close family member or friend. Whilst each separation experience is unique, there are aspects of it that are common to everyone. In this Creative Family Law Solutions blog, we look at ways to work through the separation experience in a way that is kind to self. 

The first feature of separation to appreciate is that it is a journey. Separation happens over time, and if you are able to manage this process well there are great learnings to integrate. Separation is an adventure that can make you stronger and prepare you for the next chapter in your life. Conflict can be a very difficult space, but it is an opportunity

that is essential for new insights, personal growth, and the very catalyst for the new you!

Another aspect of separation it is valuable to acknowledge is that it can be initiated unilaterally. It takes two to commit to and form a relationship, but only one to break it down; this is something that many people find difficult to understand. It does not matter how committed one member is to keeping the relationship together, if the other is not willing to work on it, then there is no way the couple will be able to remain in that relationship.

Social scientists have documented how there is a well-established separation process that must be passed through to get to the post-separation world beyond. This is sometimes called the “roller coaster” of emotions as it swings up and down, through a full gambit of emotions. From anger and denial, to love and hope, to sadness and depression, frustration, and finally acceptance and the ability to move on. This is not a rational or logical experience, but an intensely emotional one that involves struggling to find meaning from a situation that appears to defy reason in every way.

In the course of this emotional searching for meaning, the overall feeling is one of chaos, uncertainty for the future, disempowerment, and injustice. It is at this stage that emotional, psychological and legal supports are crucial to providing therapy, information, and guidance as to options and next steps. This allows for the development of understanding, and for the progress through the separation journey to be respectful and appropriate for each individual. Information about the separation process, the decisions arising from the separation, what is required to be able to make good decisions and options available to assist with this journey are all essential.

The aim should be to find the best frame of mind to make the right decisions for each family. In other words, there needs to be the necessary scaffolding in place to ensure that there is the capacity to make good decisions, as well as the information and support to know what these are, and then the space to work towards making them for each individual and their children. Due to the distress often associated with separation, this is a very big expectation for many, and it can be beneficial to understand the matters that flow from separation and break these down into short, medium-term and long-term decisions.

A counsellor or psychologist who is well experienced in dealing with post-separation situations is the best support for traversing the separation process on an emotional and psychological basis. They will tailor their service to meet the unique needs of each client, and develop a working relationship responsive to the needs of their individual situation.

An experienced family lawyer is the best professional to assist with identifying the issues arising from the separation, discussing essential information required to be able to make decisions, breaking down the situation into short, medium and long-term aspects, advising as to legal rights and entitlements, and providing information of the various pathways that might be considered to achieve goals a client has. The aim of a family lawyer is to assist with the development of an action plan that must be responsive to the needs of each situation, and at the same time be flexible enough to be able to adapt to circumstances as they change through the separation journey.

Family lawyers are able to provide information about how to separate physically, or achieve separate households while the more medium and long-term issues are being negotiated. They are able to inform as to the principles associated with appropriate parenting arrangements at varying ages and stages of development in children.

They are able to give advice as to legal rights and entitlements in parenting and financial matters. They can advise as to the various different ways that these issues can be resolved, including Family Dispute Resolution, family mediation, negotiation, collaborative practice, and where necessary, litigation. They will support their clients in whichever pathways that person decides is best in their circumstances, and they will always prioritise the welfare of children and the safety of all involved.

Family lawyers work with many other professionals associated with separation, and can make appropriate referrals to counsellors, psychologists, accountants, financial planners, mortgage brokers and other lawyers that understand this process and are knowledgeable and supportive in this space. They understand that a team approach where all the professionals involved are working together to achieve the same goals is crucial. They will also have various other resources that they can provide for those who might not be ready yet to take the first step on this journey, and need the information to understand what might be involved.

For any professional or person considering these issues, please do not hesitate to contact Creative Family Law Solutions to connect and discuss them further.

More resources