For many separating couples the writing was on the wall for some time and a final separation does not come as a complete surprise to either person.
Whether it was a gradual process over many months or years or a particular event that led to the separation both parties often agree that separation was inevitable.
However, for some separating couples, one person can sometimes be taken completely by surprise. Separation hits you in the face with no warning. This is followed by a sudden deluge of emotions, self doubt, questions like “how did I not see this coming?” and a desire to regain some control.
If you find yourself faced with an unexpected separation there are a number of steps that you can take to help you regain some control to prevent you from feeling “one step behind”.
- Give your self permission to move through the grief cycle at your own pace. If your partner had been planning the separation for sometime behind your back it can be helpful to understand that you are at different stages of grieving your relationship.
- Speak to your GP to let them know that you are separating. They will be able to provide with a referral to a psychologist or other services that may assist you if necessary. There is no shame in making sure that you are in the best position emotionally to care for you and your children. While people are often worried that there will be stigma attached if they later end up in Court and it comes to the attention of the Judge that you are seeking psychological support, the opposite is in fact true. The Court wants to see people being proactive in looking after their mental health Your GP or psychologist will also help you develop strategies to deal with your former partner if they are being difficult.
- Start to organise your documents. This process can help you regain control of the situation after feeling that the rug has been pulled out from underneath you. Obtain copies of your tax documents, bank and loan statements, superannuation statement, payslips and any other documents establishing the assets and liabilities that have.
- Getting your documents in order will give you a head start when you are ready to move towards finalising a property settlement with your former partner. If you are worried that your former partner may try to take some of your documents then it may be worth leaving copies with a trusted family member or friend.
- Before you hit send on a text, facebook or instagram post walk away and come back half an hour later. This will reduce that chance that you will later regretting posting or sending something which may have serious consequences to you, your children or make things more difficult for you when you come to negotiating arrangements with your former partner.
- It can sometimes be good to ask yourself “would I be happy for my boss or a judge to see this?” You will thank yourself later for protecting your own reputation.
- Review your personal information and see if your former partner may be accessing any of it remotely. Now can be a good time to contact your bank to change the password on your internet banking, social media accounts, email addresses and pin codes that you may have.
- Book an appointment with a family lawyer. While this may not feel like a number one priority right now getting the right advice early on can assist you to protect your position, make sure you don’t fall into any “pot holes” and make the process of formaling your separation faster and more cost effectively. A first appointment will assist you to understand if you need to take action immediately to protect your position or if you can buy yourself some time to focus on yourself and allow you to understand the different options available to you.
- Set boundaries. Your ex may want to make contact with you on their terms. This may not always allow you the space that you need to grieve the end of the relationship or allow you to communicate with them in a productive manner. This will help gain some perspective with time and prevent you from sweating about the small stuff.
While it can be daunting if you are faced with an unexpected separation and you can feel overwhelmed about what lies ahead, there are simple steps you can take to ease the pathway and regain control.