Tips to Help Your Friend Through Separation & Divorce

Do you have a friend or family member going through a separation?  If yes, often this time can be a highly emotional and tumultuous stage in a person’s life, not only for the 2 parties dissolving their relationship, but also their family and friends. Providing the right support and directing them towards the right services can be an important step in assisting your loved one through the separation process.

Tip 1: Listen and Be Supportive

The best thing you can do for your loved one when they first separate is to listen. Everyone has their own subjective take on separation so if possible be prepared to listen without taking sides. Try and remember both parties may have a very different story to tell, and their judgement could be clouded by feelings of hurt, betrayal, sadness and the like.

Likewise, you may have also gone through a separation or been close to someone else who has recently separated, and you may be tempted to share these experiences.  Try and remember everyone’s situation is different and it is often unhelpful to put your own subjective take on someone else’s separation.

Tip 2: Counselling

If you can, gently raise the idea of counselling. Counselling at the very initial stages of separation is often a great way of enabling separating couples to start to establish a friendship which will greatly assist them in the future when trying to reach agreements in regards to division of assets and property, and parenting orders if they have children of the relationship.

If attending counselling together is not a possibility, we would still recommend individual counselling, as this process can often assist with dealing with the ‘grief’ associated with the loss of a relationship and how to move forward in a positive way.

Tip 3: Try to Avoid Social Media

As a good friend, you should discourage your loved one from discussing the breakdown of their relationship on social media. Once something is posted on social media, it is very hard to retract the comment, and these types of actions can have ramifications down the track if the parties aren’t able to reach an agreement and will need to access Court services.

Try and encourage your loved one to keep their emotional ‘venting’ for counselling sessions  – it will mean that there will be a higher chance they can establish a friendship with their ex-partner in the future and will avoid children having to hear about their parent’s separation from other sources.

Tip 4: The Family Court Should be the Last Option, Not First

The Court is an adversarial based system. When you go to Court, you are essentially allowing someone who does not know you, or your ex-partner or your children, to make decisions about how your family should operate in the future.

We don’t believe that families belong in the family court system, and only those cases where complete communication has broken down or other such circumstances such as abuse are involved should be handled by the Family Court.

Where possible, you should encourage your loved one to seek advice on reaching an agreement with their ex-partner, whether it be with a Financial Agreement, or the drafting of Parenting Orders, or filing Consent Orders to be approved by the Family Court.

These types of resolutions are far less expensive and encourage parties to be conciliatory with their interaction with each other. And if both sides feel in control and part of the process of reaching an agreement, there is a higher chance that they will abide by the agreements reached and ultimately move on with their lives in a positive way.

Tip 5: Getting the Right Advice First Time Around

At Legally Yours, we speak to a lot of people who have been given the wrong advice from friends and family about what they should do and what they are entitled to in a separation.

We would strongly recommend that you encourage your loved one to find the right professionals to provide them with the right advice first time around. Receiving good advice and guidance from the beginning could save your loved one a lot of heartache and emotional turmoil, as well as a lot of money down the track. Referrals to good counsellors, financial advisors, accountants and family lawyers could be the key to obtaining a good result for all parties involved.

If you would like to book a Quick Match, please follow the links on the Legally Yours website.

This article is written by Karen Finch and was first published on the Legally Yours website.

This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practising lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.

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