What to do when you separate: 5 top tips

What to do when you separate: 5 top tips

Separating from a partner can be an overwhelming and traumatic life event, particularly where there are children involved. Knowing what to do and where to turn can seem confusing. Having a simple plan of action can help you feel more in control. Here are our top 5 tips for helping you get on the right track.

1. Keep communicating. If it is safe to do so, maintaining open communication with your ex-partner can be helpful. No matter how the relationship ended maintaining a polite, civil dialogue between you can really help you both to tackle the practical issues surrounding your separation.

2. Do not underestimate the emotional impact. Even if the separation is mutual and amicable it is often experienced as a form of bereavement, and recognising the impact of it, and seeking the right support, will be essential in helping you navigate the separation process. This might mean seeking professional help via your GP or obtaining emotional support through therapy, counselling, or surrounding yourself with a good friend and family support network. Be mindful, however, that friends and family who have already experienced a separation of their own or who are very close to you both can, sometimes, find it difficult to be objective. Be cautious not to let other’s negative views and experiences influence how you would like to conduct your separation.

3. Where possible try to maintain the status quo in relation to your finances. If one of you is currently paying the mortgage, rent or other outgoings it is sensible for this to continue for the time being, until you can reach a joint agreement about how those expenses will be dealt with long-term. Making hasty financial decisions could not only place one or either of you in financial difficulties, but it can cause fear, distress and mistrust from the outset, which makes it much harder to move forward in a cooperative and collaborative fashion. Any changes should be made having given adequate notice to your ex-partner so there is some time for discussion and exploration of other options. 

4. Undertake a financial audit. Understanding your finances will be essential for you both to make informed decisions about any financial settlement. Without both having a clear understanding of your overall assets, it will not be possible to reach a fair and reasonable agreement about how the assets are to be shared between you. This means not only having a clear idea of your income and outgoings but ensuring that you understand the value of your assets including property, pensions, investments, bank accounts, vehicles etc. and if relevant, any debts. It can be helpful at an early stage to obtain three independent market appraisals, for any property in which you live so that, if possible, a value for the home can be agreed. Good, local agents often provide these appraisals free of charge.

5. Consider each obtaining early legal advice. Whilst the internet can be an incredibly useful resource for information, determining what is relevant and reliable can be bewildering. Taking early legal advice does not commit you to instructing a solicitor nor initiating any sort of dispute. It will help you to understand your legal position. The world of family law can be confusing and obtaining solid, reliable advice at the outset can not only help you save money but avoid unnecessary conflict by giving you a better understanding of how the law works, the processes involved, the likely timescales and costs should you both need to instruct solicitors to help you move forward with the separation. Fixed fee initial appointments are a helpful way of achieving this with the comfort of fixed price and no obligation to take matters further.

If you need help with a separation please do contact us using our contact page or telephone number.