So you’ve decided that you want a divorce, but have no idea where to start?
Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take once you’ve decided that you want a divorce.
Divorce or Separation?
Make sure that it’s definitely a divorce you want and not just a trial separation.
A trial separation could be the first step so you can both decide if a divorce is what you really want.
This may help you to get some clarity around what you want going forward and if the marriage is worth trying to save.
If you’re both agreeable, attending marriage counselling during your separation can help you to work through what issues can be resolved, or help you to accept that the only way forward is a divorce.
If you do separate, make a note of your separation date (even if you keep living under the same roof), as you need to be separated for at least 12 months before you can apply for a divorce.
Speak to Your Partner
The next thing to do will be to discuss matters with your partner. If you haven’t been communicating this may come as a shock.
Find the right location to discuss the issues. A private space is best, where you won’t be interrupted or disturbed but always be conscious of safety issues if your partner reacts and things get out of hand.
If you have children, ask a friend or family member to look after them for a few hours while you speak to your partner.
Have a plan of what you want to say and the points you want to raise. Consider what options are available to both of you in terms of future living arrangements, how assets could be divided and how to co-parent effectively following your separation.
Choose your words carefully when you break the news. Give them a chance to respond as well, don’t just talk at them without letting them have a say. The discussion should be a 2 way street.
Acknowledge what they say and take their points of view on board.
Try to stay calm and reasoned throughout your discussions, as getting heated and arguing will not help the situation.
Tell Your Kids
If you have children, once you and your partner have agreed to separate and divorce, you need to tell them the news.
They may react differently, depending on their ages, so prepare yourself for a range of reactions and emotions. Try to tell them all at the same time – having one child know and another child in the dark is not a good idea. The news needs to come from you, not a sibling.
Plan what you’ll say and try to present a united front and avoid the blame game when talking to or in front of the children.
Be open to answer any questions your children may have and be as honest as you can in the situation.
Make sure you remind them that you both love them and nothing that happens between you and your partner will change how you feel about your children. Reassure them that your decision to get divorced has nothing to do with them and they are not responsible.
Check the Rules for Divorce Applications
Check the rules regarding divorce applications in your location.
In some jurisdictions, you need to show the Court that you and your spouse have lived apart from each other for at least 12 months and that there is no reasonable likelihood of saving the marriage.
Remember that it is possible to live together in the same home and still be separated – “separation under the one roof”.
Consider Divorce Mediation
If you want to avoid dragging your divorce through the expense and stress of a legal battle, you could opt for divorce mediation instead.
Divorce mediation can help you move on quickly and for a fraction of the cost of a typical divorce through the Courts.
Divorce mediation can cost less than $1,000 per person, so even if you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to come to a mutual agreement at mediation, it’s worth a try to resolve as many issues as you can.
The key thing with mediation is getting both parties to agree to try and work things out instead of heading straight to the nearest divorce lawyer.