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Deciding what to do when you separate

Coming to the realisation that your relationship is not going to work long-term has no doubt taken some time, but it is the first of many important decisions you will need to make when splitting up. We look at the steps you can take to help you make informed and wise decisions that will improve the separation process. 

Take your time and make a plan 

In the recent aftermath of a separation, your emotions are often intensified. Making decisions based purely on your emotions is never a good idea. Take some time to feel your ‘feelings’ before you dive into making big choices about your separation. It is then often a good idea to speak to a family lawyer about your situation. This will help put you in the picture on where you stand legally and financially, and help you make logical decisions on how to move forward. 

Take practical steps

The first port of call is to agree on an official separation date with your partner. From here, you can begin taking action on finding new living arrangements, and organising your lives separately. If you are married or in a civil partnership, your separation does not have to go to court if you can agree on matters. This often makes things less expensive and time-consuming.

Do your admin 

When you go through any kind of separation there will always be a level of administration to deal with. Start gathering important documents and paperwork together, whether joint or single. If you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, you will need to have your marriage/partnership certificate at hand to begin the application process. 

If your separation is likely to involve a financial settlement, you will need to provide full financial disclosure to the courts, meaning you will need all the facts on your finances. Compile all important and financial documents, including bank account and pension statements (single and joint), credit card statements, mortgage payments records, and details of any loans, investments and business interests.

Make arrangements for children 

If you and your former partner have children together, you will need to consider what their new living arrangements will be, work out how often they will see each parent and create practical new routines for them. Financial matters relating to children will also need to be decided on. Following separation, both parents have a responsibility to financially provide for their children, whether they are in a civil partnership, married or living together. In most cases, it is easier and less stressful to make arrangements together, without involving the courts. However, in some instances, it is prudent to take your case to court. For example, if there is domestic abuse, one partner is refusing for the other to have access to the children, or if the mediation process has been unsuccessful. 

Think- long-term

The details involved in organising paperwork, sourcing a new home, and planning finances can be all consuming. Seeing past the present challenges of separating can lessen the opportunity for conflict with your former spouse or partner. This long-term thinking will also remind you that the decisions you are making now will benefit you in the future.

Source emotional support 

Going through a separation can be demanding. Not only are you experiencing grief and upset, but you are also having to take practical steps while continuing to work, and look after children. Reaching out to supportive friends and family can help steer you through the difficult times. Counselling and advice services are often an excellent resource offering specialist support for those going through separation.