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The Stages of Separation

Updated: May 5, 2020

The Family Court of Australia has reported:

Stages of separation

Separation is a major step for everyone. It's a time when you need help and information. Most people admit feeling the worst they have ever felt in their life. Grief, where you feel the loss of an important part of your life, may be the reason for this. If you separate, you may experience the following different stages of grief:

  • shock and denial that it is really happening

  • anger and blaming your former partner or another person

  • sadness and depression

  • moving forward – acceptance and adjustment to your new life.

Talking to friends and family can help you sort out your feelings. Trained help may assist you and your children cope better with the changes.

Moving at a different pace

Separation affects everyone differently. You and your former partner may move through the stages of separation at a different pace, feeling different things at different times. For example, one of you may be starting to accept the separation while the other is still feeling angry.

What you need to consider

If you separate, you and your former partner will need to make some immediate decisions about practical issues concerning your children and your assets. You may not be able to agree on all these things at the time of separation, but it can greatly help you and your family if you try to reach a temporary agreement. You can use the facilities of the Family Relationship Centres, if there is one in your area, or other community-based services to reach an agreement. It is a good idea to get legal advice.

Some of the things you need to consider are:

  • where your children live and who will take care of them

  • how you and your former partner will support yourselves and your children

  • what, how and when you will tell the children, other family members and friends

  • who will pay outstanding bills or debts

  • who will stay in the house

  • how will the rent or mortgage be paid

  • what will happen to any joint bank, building society or credit union accounts

  • what will happen to the house, car, furniture and other property.

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