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Rebecca Lewis

- 16 Feb 2015
  • Family Law

When things fall apart

You and your partner have separated or you think this is about to happen.

You are going through a deeply personal crisis. It is hard to know where to begin to sort out the emotion that you are feeling, let alone the property the two of you have accumulated and perhaps arrangements for children and parenting.

There is a range of normal reactions to a relationship breakdown. Some people take charge and get on with the practical matters, while others become stuck and dazed. There are those who can’t move on from their fury and want their partner to be feeling the same level of pain they are feeling.

You will be dealing with a high level of emotion and your rational thinking and your reactions will invariably be affected. It is healthy to be aware of this as it can be costly for you on a number of levels.

When you decide to seek legal advice, your lawyer will want to hear your story. This background information may seem too private to share, but can be crucial to the success of your final outcome. There will be details of your family life and your finances to talk about. The first interview will be a time to talk through any number of issues; whether it’s about complex finances, children or particular relationship issues such as family violence. It will surprise you to know that some details that you thought were irrelevant are very important.

Take time to consider your position. Some decisions shouldn’t be taken lightly just to get it out of the way. If you are the “take charge” kind of person you may be frustrated that things are not happening fast enough. There is a risk that, in your hope to bring the pain to an end sooner rather than later, you may rush into decisions without being properly informed or prepared.

Your friends and family, or others who mean well will give you advice and tell you about their own outcomes and experiences. Be aware that they may not know the law or recognise important differences in your particular circumstances.

When you talk to your lawyer about what you want, they will also know the right questions to ask you in order to gather the information needed to help you. During that time it’s good to ask these vital questions: Will I succeed? How long it will take? How much it will cost me? These are not always easy questions to answer but they are worth asking at the outset and regularly along the way. You will want to weigh up your legal costs against what you are seeking to gain. Bear in mind that your ex-partner, who you once knew so well, may become a completely different person after you have separated.

Allowing the time to take care of the details and make sure everything is covered in your property settlement or your parenting arrangements will help set you up for the future so that you can move on in your life, hopefully to a much happier and less stressful place.