Making the decision to separate from your partner is certainly not an easy one, especially if you have children to consider. But if you and your partner have made the decision to separate, there are key issues to take into consideration to make your separation as smooth and painless as possible, for you and your children.
How do I tell my children?
There will never be an easy way to tell your children that you and your spouse are separating. However, this should not be reason to avoid the topic entirely. It is essential to prepare your child or children for the big change, which will impact on their lives. It is best to tell them sooner rather than later – if they notice you and your spouse arguing or acting differently with each other, your children will notice.
Once you and your spouse have made the decision to separate, sit down with your children, preferably together, and explain calmly that you have chosen to separate. It is up to you if you decide to explain the reasons behind your choice: if you do, be cautious and make sure not to put the blame for the separation on one parent.
Helping your children adjust
The period of separation is never going to be smooth, but you can do certain things to make the process less stressful for your children. Firstly, try to keep any tensions or conflicts to a minimum when in the presence of your children. Children are incredible perceptive and will be battling their own frustrations and worries, so have any heated discussions with your spouse well out of ear-shot.
Attempt not to talk negatively about the other parent, as it is not a pleasant or easy thing for a child to hear one parent bad-mouthing the other. Try to keep as much normality and stability as possible. Do not go overboard with attention and affection to compensate for the separation; just try to continue as normally as possible.
Do I need to take legal action?
Choosing to separate could mean simply walking out on your spouse, though when you have children to consider this is really not the best option. You do not actually need to take formal legal steps to separate but if you have children it is a very good idea to attempt to leave amicably and have a conversation about who will take primary care of the any children.
It is essential to come to an agreement over who will look after the children or what the arrangements will be if the children are to split their time with both of you.
Separation or divorce
These days, more and more married couples are opting for separation rather than divorce. In fact, divorce rates have, generally speaking, steadily fallen over the years. Divorce was very common in the 1970s and had brief comebacks in 2000 and 2010, but aside from this, official splits have decreased.
According to the Daily Mail, divorce rates are at a 40-year low (July 2012). Separation might be a better option for you if you are uncertain about legally ending your marriage, are worried about the costs of a legal divorce or want to have a trial separation before making any final decisions. Separation allows a grace period for spouses to resolve their differences. If you feel every option has been exhausted then seeking divorce advice is essential.