The breakdown of any relationship is a major cause of stress, and may contribute to or trigger anxiety, depression, and other health issues. This is exacerbated when children are involved. Resolving underlying legal concerns regarding parental rights, and financial security may lessen the emotional anxiety you experience.
This provides an overview of the services available to help you work through issues arising from a family breakdown.
Separation is a major step. Many people claim they felt the worst they have ever felt in their life around the time they separated, often feeling sad and depressed.
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. Some of the things you need to consider are:
- where your children will 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 about the separation
- 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
Where to get help
1. Talk to friends and family.
Close friends and family are a good place to start to help you sort out your feelings.
2. See your GP
If you are concerned about mental health problems in yourself or another, are overwhelmed by anxiety or feel depressed, it is important that you consult your family doctor.
3. Arrange mediation
Mediation may help you to sort out any problems you have about settling your arrangements if you decide to separate. It can facilitate quick, inexpensive and amicable settlement of contentious issues. For parenting issues, mediation can be tailored to a specific situation.
4. Attend counselling
For joint parenting counselling, it may be worthwhile to consult with a psychologist who is experienced in family law issues. You may also benefit from attending a counsellor alone, to help you through the emotional turmoil, and to give you strategies for communicating with your partner.
5. Consult a lawyer
It is a good idea to get legal advice to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Your lawyer can help you obtain a Family Court Order regarding property and parenting matters if you are unable to reach agreement. The court process involves compulsory mediation, and over 95% of cases in the court system settle without the need for a Trial.
6. Check out online information and resources
Legal information is widely available on the Internet and in public libraries.
- through Relationships Australia
- Through Centacare
7. Call a helpline like Lifeline or Kids Helpline
For more information on divorce or other family matters, and to understand your rights and responsibilities before applying for a divorce, contact our experienced family lawyer, Mark Orchard, for a free initial consultation.
Phone: 07 4639 0358