Time To Call It Quits: When Is The Right Time To Separate?
Posted: 16th March 2020
Posted in: News
Posted by: Fiona Browne, Associate
We start a relationship or marry intending to have a full and happy life with our chosen partner or spouse. Couples don’t ever think of a time to separate. Unfortunately, living happily ever after is not always the end result. Not taking into account the breakdown of de facto relationships, Australian Government statistics record that there are roughly two divorces per every 1,000 people in Australia each year.
When Is It The Right Time To Separate?
This is a question that as family lawyers we cannot answer for our clients. We are able though to make observations based upon factors that are common to our family law clients over the last 20 years of practice in the area of family law.
Relationships cannot be painted with a broad brush. The dynamics of each are unique. What may work for one couple may not work for another. There’s never a “perfect” or “right” time to break up with a partner.
Navigating challenges in a relationship is normal. Despite what you may see on Instagram or Facebook, there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Sometimes though, it is not possible to move past some challenges and couples must consider separation or divorce as an option.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Deciding That It’s The Right Time To Separate
Are we growing apart, instead of growing together?
Did you know that the most common time for a couple to divorce is when they have been married less than 9 years?
It is only a theory but in our experience, the time frame of separating within 5 to 9 years often coincides with a couple having had children, those children being young, perhaps both of the spouse being back in full-time work and everything becoming too much as one or both of the spouses feels like the are shouldering too much of the workload.
It is important to accept that relationships, depending on what stage or circumstances they are at, change over time. At different times, one spouse may well be shouldering more of the load.
Couples need to move through the challenges of each phase together. Both must be able to communicate any unhappiness and both must be pro-active in making improvements to the relationship.
The unwillingness to communicate freely with one another, brushing matters under the rug all the time or ignoring each other may be an indication of ‘growing apart’.
Before things get beyond repair, consider whether having an open discussion would help or whether you should seek assistance from a counsellor? What you are feeling may mirror what your spouse is feeling.
Is this relationship safe for me, my children, and my partner?
Are there ‘destructive behaviours’ that need to be addressed?
For many, abuse or family violence is an issue. Separation may be the only option.
Increasingly, drug and alcohol dependency are also factors that are raised when we meet with clients.
Your safety and that of your children is paramount.
Am I certain my relationship can’t continue?
The decision to separate or divorce may come with countless days and nights thinking whether to go through with the separation. Sometimes speaking with a qualified therapist will assist in helping you determine what it is that is making you unhappy and whether there is anything that you can do to overcome. The break-down of a relationship or marriage challenges your belief in you as a person, parent and spouse. Sometimes checking in with someone separate and unrelated to you can provide you with perspective.
Have I explored all avenues and given it my best shot to reconcile?
There are available resources whether through the private and government sectors.
All these avenues can help give clarity and offer a new perspective on the relationship.
Make sure that you don’t lose perspective. Taking a position if ill-informed does not end well in family law matters. No one is ever the winner in family law. There is always an emotional and financial cost.
Is It The Right Time To Separate Or Divorce? Seek Legal Advice
Be informed about your circumstances. Seek legal advice, support from friends and qualified therapists.
Understand that if there are children, then you need to focus on their best interests.
Understand what sort of outcome you might expect and be realistic when negotiating an outcome.
If you decide that the relationship is beyond repair, seeking legal advice at an early stage will assist with making sure that you are aware of your rights and the likely outcome. An experienced Family Law solicitor can assist you with considering the practical and legal aspects associated with separation and divorce – what are realistic expectations in terms of an agreement in respect to children or financial matters and the process if an agreement cannot be reached.
At the end of the day, you decide whether it’s the right time to separate. Each family is different.
If you’re contemplating separation or divorce and in need of expert, sound legal advice from a Family Lawyer, give us a call.