Separation and divorce can be an extremely challenging and even potentially life-threatening process. There can be many moving parts when ending a relationship and leaving the family home. However, this time does not need to be unnecessarily stressful. To assist with this, New South Lawyers' Family Lawyers have prepared a brief separation guide to help you.

Immediate decisions

Going through a divorce? Some immediate decisions you will need to make include: Firstly, where you and any children are going to live.  Secondly, what clothes, shoes and other personal effects can you take with you. And thirdly (if you are staying in temporary housing like a hotel), any possible costs you may incur. If you are presently in crisis and have been affected by domestic violence, nothing other than your safety and the safety of your children matters. If your safety is a concern and you do not have the economic means to separate safely, you can contact the police and they can assist you with emergency accommodation, for example, through a community shelter.

Take important documents

If you are not in immediate danger, we recommend taking a copy of any important documents. These include birth certificates; marriage certificates; financial documents including mortgage statements, pay slips, superannuation statements; and shared bills or invoices.

Informal agreements

Creating an informal parenting agreement can be difficult. However, shifting the focus of the arrangement onto the needs of the children and what is in their best interest can be the best way to move forward. An informal parenting arrangement could simply be a week-to-week arrangement or every other weekend, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Some former spouses may be hesitant to ‘give up’ time with their children but be patient and emphasise how this plan will minimise any disruption to your children’s lives. Some things to consider when making your plan are: a. your work schedules;b. how you will get the children to and from school;c. any sporting or recreational activities the children may participate in;d. telephone or messaging communication when the children are not staying with one parent; ande. any medical issues the children may have.

Communication with your former spouse and children

Have a plan when communicating with your former spouse and then try and have a shared plan when discussing your separation with your children. However, if your safety is a concern, please consider whether telling your former spouse could put you or your children in danger. Your plan when communicating with your former spouse may include a reason why you would like to separate and any future plans. These future plans could include whether you need space away from your partner or are seeking a divorce. When communicating with your children we recommend: Firstly, allowing a few weeks notice that you will move out - this will give your children time to understand what is going on.Secondly, concentrating on what is best for your children and not dragging them into adult conflicts.Thirdly, providing a plan for them that focuses on how the separation may affect them, for example when they will see you or any changes to their schooling.And finally, listening to your children and understanding what they need in those moments. Separation can be very difficult on children, and they may need some time to come to terms with the separation. If possible, consider whether therapy is an option you could pursue for your children and former spouse during this time.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication.

To find out more, chat with a member of New South Lawyers' Family Law Team today.