The top 12 don’ts of separation and divorce

With divorce rates higher than ever, there’s a good chance that you, or someone you know, are making the transition from a wife to a single life. Divorce is a rollercoaster of emotions, with guilt, stress and sadness leading the way. The good news is that by making the right decisions, you can minimise the negatives and turn your divorce into the start of a positive new journey for you and your children. Make your journey to Destination Divorce as smooth and stress-free as it can be with our list of top 12 don’ts of separation and divorce.

The top 12 don'ts of separation and divorce

Make sure your divorce is handled properly by seeking professional advice from a reputable source. Well-meaning friends or your great Aunt Margot, who’s astonished you’re even considering divorce, aren’t able to offer you the quality advice a professional can. A professional will help you navigate your options, tell you what’s required and secure a fair settlement for you and your children. Remember, the first step is not necessarily a law firm. Try mediation or a separation specialist for a less aggressive pathway.

2. Don’t ignore the legalities

This is one of the crucial don'ts of separation and divorce. Sure, you might think you've got it all figured out – who gets the dog, who keeps the family home – but hold your horses! Regarding legal stuff like property settlement, finances, and all that jazz, get in touch with someone who knows the ropes. A knowledgeable family lawyer can provide invaluable guidance tailored to your situation. They'll walk you through the ins and outs of the process, from setting that all-important separation date to making sure you've clocked in those mandatory 12 months apart before hitting up the family court of Australia.

Now, let's talk about debts. Many married couples who get divorced or separated get tangled up with this problem. When it comes to debts, the law doesn't care much about who swiped the credit card last—it's all about joint liability. That means both parties are on the hook, even if only one of you was the big spender. So, before you go your separate ways, make sure to settle every single liability.

Separation and divorce

And let's not forget the consent orders. They're legally binding agreements that cover everything from asset division to child arrangements. Work with your family lawyer to draft and finalise these crucial documents.

3. Don't refuse communication

Children need to see that even though you are no longer together as a couple, both you and your spouse are still in this parenting gig together. To make a success of the ‘living between two houses‘ thing, communication is key. Doing this in a civilised manner will help your children feel loved and safe. Keep the conversation focused on your children, and at the first sign of a disagreement, reschedule the conversation for a time when you’re both feeling more level-headed. If things get bad, booking mediation can have a great outcome for your kids. It will resolve issues quickly and calmly with a third party .. so you can continue being the best parents you can be.

4. Don't overlook the difference between separation and divorce

Now, why does this matter? Well, for starters, understanding the difference between separation and divorce can save you a ton of confusion and heartache. It affects things like property settlements, assets, and even your tax status. Knowing the difference can also help you decide whether you want separation or divorce. Plus, if you're thinking of remarrying down the line, you'll need to apply for a divorce beforehand.

Separation occurs when you're still legally married or in a de facto relationship, but you're living apart. It's a chance to take a breather, sort out your feelings, and maybe even work on things if you're feeling optimistic. During separation, the couple’s assets, liabilities, and responsibilities are addressed through informal or legally binding agreements, but your marriage or de facto union remains intact until formally dissolved through divorce or other legal means.

On the other hand, divorce is the legal termination of your marriage. This means you're no longer married or in a de facto relationship, and you're free to go your separate ways, legally speaking. Divorce proceedings involve formal legal processes, including court appearances and the issuance of a final divorce decree by a competent judicial authority.

5. Don’t forget the good times

In the midst of the hard times, it is difficult to remember why you got together with your ex. Gone are the days when you hung on his every word (now you feel like living in separate worlds). However, by choosing to remain positive about your past, you’ll be laying a foundation of healthy memories you can share and enjoy with your children. This will help them feel more connected and emotionally secure.

It will also help to remember the good times before heading to the federal circuit and family court for your hearing. Doing this will keep you from being blinded by rage and potentially making a mistake in front of the judge. You don't want that!

The top 12 don’ts of divorce and separation (cont.)

6. Don’t give your children too much information

Divorce can be confusing at the best of times. This confusion can often lead to fear and insecurity for children. Asking children how they feel and openly discussing issues that might arise is a healthy way for them to feel valued. However, discussing intimate issues about the divorce could result in the opposite and leave your children feeling like they have to choose a side.

When my parents decided to separate, there was one instance where they started explaining all about their separation – the whole shebang. Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate their honesty, but let's just say some of those details were a bit TMI for my teenage brain. I felt overwhelmed and confused as they continued to lay out their plans separately. I mean, I didn't need to know every little detail. All I really wanted was reassurance that everything would be okay and that they still loved us. Looking back, I realise they were just trying to be transparent. But sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to delicate matters like separation and divorce.

7. Don’t isolate yourself

By this, I don’t mean go and relive your 20s by clubbing every night (the first week doesn’t count). Rather, make sure you have a solid support system to turn to instead of falling into the trap of leaning on your kids for emotional support. Don’t get lonely. Remember, you are only separated from one person, not from the entire world! Chat with other single mums on the Single Mum Vine private Facebook group. Contact us and we will listen. Now is the perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself and surround yourself with positive people.

8. Don’t underestimate the role played by social media

75% of family court cases now use social media as a form of evidence. For this reason, it’s important not to assume that you can remove any of your social media histories without potential legal consequences if you or your partner have filed for divorce. Our advice is to STOP before you post that Facebook rant, and stick to the funny cat vines instead.

9. Don’t hold onto bitter feelings

Divorce with children can seem all-consuming. Changing your perception is the most powerful thing you can do to alter your outlook on life. Take those bitter feelings and feel grateful that you’re done with them. Sure, you can feel anger and frustration for a bit, but don’t let it define you. You’re so much better than that. Learn to be a more content and happy single mama.

10. Don’t forget time for yourself

Enjoy yourself! Find hobbies and activities that make you happy, engage in them and get to know yourself again. I once had a girlfriend whose love of pole dancing resulted in a massive confidence boost and the loss of 20kg. I might not be able to touch my toes to save my life, but during my monthly ‘me time, ’ my masseuse, Lorenzo, tells me I look lovely, which makes me feel 20kg lighter.

The top 12 don’ts of divorce and separation (cont.)

11. Don’t rush into a new relationship

After getting to know yourself again and taking the time to discover what you really want in life, you might find yourself ready to commit to a new relationship. As tempting as it is to disregard the language barrier with Lorenzo, it’s probably for the best. Blended families can provide a lot of fantastic support, but many children struggle with being forced into them before they’re ready.

12. Don’t judge yourself

The final point on our list of don’ts of separation and divorce is: Don’t judge yourself! If you need to turn off your phone, sit on the couch with ice cream and watch re-runs of Friends for a few days then that’s perfectly okay. In fact, the biggest positive of divorce is that you’re now free to do whatever you want. Remember that you’re amazing and doing your best to get through this in one piece; love yourself for it.

Summary: Don'ts of separation and divorce

So what's the bottom line? Whether you're going through separation or divorce, don't rush the process or go at it alone without some legal backup. Take it from me; I thought I could handle it all on my own. I thought I could spare my children from the complicated legal stuff. But guess what? That only made things messier. It was not until I reached out for professional help and got some legal advice that things started to make sense.

Seek advice from fellow single mums who went through the same path before. But know that it will not always be smooth sailing. Separation and divorce can get messy, so you need all the help you can get. Don't be afraid to ask for support from friends and family during these difficult times. Take the time to understand everything about separation and divorce, lean on legal counsel for guidance, and, above all, prioritise the well-being of yourself and your children. Remember, you've got this, mumma.

The top 10 don'ts of divorce and separation | Beanstalk Mums | Beanstalk Single Mum Pinterest

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Sally Love

About the author

Sally Love is a pseudo single mum author who has been writing about single motherhood, separation and divorce for 8+ years. She has been a single mother for 10+ years and has two daughters, one of whom she co-parents and the other she solo parents. Sally has experienced all aspects of single motherhood from legal, financial, parenting, dating, travel as a single parent, re-partnering and re-building a career. She is an integral part of the Beanstalk community chatting and helping single mothers across the globe, as well as sharing her expertise, experiences and genuine reviews with major national newspapers and appearing on nation-wide television shows.

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