When there is trouble in a relationship a separation may help both people to sort out their problems and decide whether to get a divorce or to try again. Some people may consider that a separation is simply an essential step to go through so you can apply for a divorce. A family lawyer can help you get through this time with advice on what to do. Others feel that by separating for a few months, their differences could be worked out.
If this is so for you and your spouse, it is wise to put a time limit on the separation, otherwise it is likely to drag on and your lives will become separated to the extent they cannot be put back together. There are several other things to work out for this kind of separation.
- Who will leave the family home
- With whom will the children stay
- Who will pay major bills such as the mortgage
- Whether you will see each other during the separation and if so, for how long
- Whether the children will see their other parent during the separation
- If you will both attend counselling.
If the separation is simply something that must be endured so that a couple can legally get a divorce, there are stages that one of you will go through emotionally – the one who does not want a divorce.
- Denial and shock that such a thing could happen
- Anger and blame
- Grief and depression
- Gradual acceptance
Once the separation is an established fact that both acknowledge and realise it is only a matter of time before the divorce will be applied for you must look ahead. At least work out the division of assets and any matters relating to childcare. It may be difficult to find agreement or any common ground in these decisions, but you won’t be able to take it to court yet.
The Family Court that deals with such things will not take it up until they are satisfied that both of you have tried to come to a fair and equitable settlement of both debts and assets. They will guide you in this process, which may include counselling help. When and if that fails will you be able to bring the whole thing to court and allow them to decide. This can only be done once the divorce has been finalised.
That is why it is much better to work it all out during the separation stage. It takes more time and will cost more to have the courts decide who gets what. If you don’t have many assets, it is hardly worth the cost of taking it to court. That said, make sure the division is fair, otherwise you may find life more difficult.