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Posted on November 4, 2022

8 Tips for a Healthy Marriage Separation Process

No one wants a contentious separation. Many couples aim for the process to be as civil and amicable as possible but it’s no secret that the initial stages of separation can often be an ugly, stressful time. Couples who are in the process of separating are under a lot of pressure.  This can be a recipe for disaster. If there are children involved, the process can feel impossible. 

However, with the right approach, your separation doesn’t have to involve a lot of conflicts. The separation process can go smoothly as long as you and your partner are willing to work together. Working with a highly-rated Manhattan divorce lawyer on your separation plans can be helpful in ensuring the process goes smoothly.

Here are some tips that may help you maintain a constructive relationship with your partner while you go through the process of separation:

1. Give Yourself Time To Process Your Emotions

If you’ve come to the conclusion that separation is the logical next step for your relationship, it’s safe to say that a lot of thought has already transpired. However, during this emotional time, it’s helpful to take things slowly and focus on your own well-being. This pause in your relationship can give you more bandwidth to digest this significant transition in your life. It can also help you understand what you would like to accomplish in your next chapter. 

This may also mean having to physically move away from your spouse. If there are no safety concerns, it may be better to keep your children at home. This is to ensure that they remain in a stable environment. You may also want to explain to your children what is happening. Just make sure to keep it age-appropriate and seek the help of a professional if necessary. Seeking therapy for yourself, you and your partner, or for your family as a whole can be a good way to process your emotions about the separation.

Building a support network with your close friends can be beneficial. Make sure to only confide in people you trust to respect your decisions about the separation. Some people may want to give you advice and the advice may be coming from a position of goodwill, but decisions about your separation and your marriage should come from you alone.

It may also help to practice self-care and spend some time by yourself. Many couples forget that separating from their spouse is sometimes a way to rediscover themselves apart from the context of that relationship. It may also help to step back and see the forest for the trees; that is, to regain your perspective on the relationship. After having time to themselves, some couples find that they have a newfound appreciation for their spouse while others see more clearly the reasons why the relationship is not working anymore. Either way, time to process your emotions will let you set goals and resolve your decision to separate, whether it means getting back together or not.

2. Be Courteous to Your Spouse

Maintaining civility is important in working together. Having patience and understanding in discussing the matters of your separation can help set the tone for how the relationship will be down the line. It may be helpful to see your relationship during the separation as that of business partners. Being cooperative is essential in making sure any conflict is minimal.

Be careful not to badmouth your co-parent, regardless of whether in front of your children or not. It may also be tempting to share the changes in your life on social media, however, it can do more harm than good and can invite unwanted attention to you, your partner, and your children. 

3. Manage Your Expectations and Set Your Boundaries

Having a clear idea about what you and your partner expect about the separation would save you time and emotional bandwidth. You will need to discuss some important questions regarding your separation from your partner and taking your time with them is equally important.

  • Are you looking to get back together as a married couple or do you expect the separation to end up in a divorce?
  • How long do you see the separation lasting?
  • Will you live apart the whole time or would you still be seeing each other?

You should also discuss your expectations about whether or not you will start seeing other people during the separation if you think that it will lead to a divorce. Even though you both are still legally married, it’s important to respect each other’s space. Discuss how you will communicate important information and follow through with what was discussed to avoid conflict.

Prioritize Your Children’s Needs

It goes without saying that, as much as you and your partner would be going through a difficult time as a couple throughout the separation, your children will be experiencing the repercussions of your decisions. Their status quo is different from yours and your spouse’s, the biggest difference being that they will not be able to move away on their own or make their own decisions. You and your spouse should make sure to keep your children’s best interests in mind when making decisions about the separation.

If you have children, developing a parenting plan with your spouse should be high on your priority list. You will also need to communicate effectively and be trustworthy to make it work. Keeping your word when making plans with your spouse is important in showing that you are committed to making the partnership work even during the separation.

4. Audit Your Finances

When you separate, it can be easy to overlook everyday things like utilities, rent, and assets you and your spouse may have. While they may pale in comparison to the bigger picture of your relationship, it is still important to take note of them as they will factor into your separation if one of you chooses to move away. As a married couple, you likely have some property shared with your spouse, such as real estate, a car, a business, or joint bank accounts. Dealing with the division of property is necessary, even if you only intend to separate temporarily. Not discussing these issues and operating on assumptions can create resentment and discord. 

Do not use the separation as an opportunity to go behind your partner’s back and spend money on big-ticket items. As tempting as it would be to suddenly blow your savings on a new sports car or a vacation, it’s important to be conscious of your finances as you may be looking to transition from a one-household to a two-household family.

5. Explore Other Sources Of Help

Getting advice from a qualified professional can make a big difference when dealing with a separation. Even though you may still be friendly and able to come to agreements with regard to matters of your relationship, you may still be experiencing stress and anxiety. It’s normal to feel uneasy about an uncertain future, as a lot of things are changing. By consulting with a doctor or a therapist, you may be able to alleviate some psychological and emotional burdens. 

Keep in mind that your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. You will be better equipped to deal with the challenges your separation brings if you are emotionally prepared.

Your children will also need the same kind of support. Validating their feelings about the separation and letting them express their emotions will help them be better adjusted to the change in family dynamics. Treat your children in the same way you would like to be treated.

6. Seek The Help Of A Family Mediator Or Family Law Attorney

Before signing a separation agreement, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to make sure your bases are covered. Even if divorce is not on the table, a family law attorney can review your agreement and make sure that it is legally binding. 

Looking for an attorney that would fit your needs may not be as easy as you think. Choosing the right lawyer is not a one-size-fits-all matter.  If you and your partner are looking for a more collaborative approach in pursuing your separation, you may want to consider hiring someone experienced in mediation. On the other hand, if you and your spouse are prone to conflict on key issues of your marriage, you might want to approach a lawyer who is aligned with more aggressive forms of dispute resolution.

The ‘right’ lawyer for your situation should be someone who would evaluate your particular set of circumstances and work towards a resolution that would be aligned with your goals. 

7. Explore The Options For A Friendlier Divorce 

If you and your spouse decide to make your separation final and move forward with your divorce, your lawyer should be able to help you make arrangements with that in mind. If the terms of your separation agreement still stand, you may be able to use it as a guideline for your divorce agreement as well. 

As a friendlier divorce option, you and your spouse can opt to have an uncontested divorce if both of you can agree on key parts of your divorce. These include child custody and visitation, spousal support, and property distribution. If during your separation you and your spouse find something that you cannot agree on despite legal or counseling help, your divorce would be considered contested. In a contested divorce, a judge would decide on the key aspects of your divorce you and your spouse don’t agree on. A contested divorce typically takes more time to settle than an uncontested divorce as there are more things to take into consideration.

An experienced New York City divorce attorney should be able to provide you with information and help you decide which kind of divorce fits your case more appropriately. 

8. Exercise Patience

Above all, it’s important to be patient while you are going through such a difficult time. It’s common for people undergoing a separation to feel frustrated about their spouse, their children, or about how slow the processes involved can be. A surefire way to disappointment and heartbreak is rushing through the motions of a separation. With patience, you can start the process of healing and move on without feeling pressured to accept the convenient options. You need time to be able to process the changes this new stage in your life will bring. 

The good news is that you are not alone. By choosing to try and work with your partner in making your separation process an amicable one, you have gained the help of someone in the same boat as you are. Help is always available and you should not feel ashamed to ask for it.

Acknowledge that you are both going through a stressful time and give yourself the opportunity to adjust. If you have children, it may be a good idea to remain open to any questions they may have about the separation. 

Each case is different, and some cases may be more difficult than others, but by following these tips, you may be able to proceed with your separation process in a friendlier and more stable manner. 

Cooperation with your partner is key and there may be days when working together is hard but separation does not need to involve degrading your relationship further. 

Consult with an experienced New York City family law attorney if you and your partner are looking for a friendlier way to separate. At the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, we offer qualified legal assistance in matters of divorce, mediation, and family law. Contact us today at (646) 259-3416 to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled New York City family law attorneys.

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