Separation is a time of big change and many decisions must be made. It can help if decisions are taken calmly. Drawing up checklists can be a good way to organise yourself at this busy and emotionally difficult time.
It can be useful to remember that your ex may not feel the same way as you and may have different concerns and priorities. Simply bearing this in mind can avoid complications. There is also the option of mediation which can help when couples can’t agree a way forward.
What kind of separation?
Take some time to consider whether an informal settlement may work best for you or if you want a formal one.
If you prefer a formal agreement, can you reach an agreement with your ex or do you need to get a court agreement?
The following activities can help you work out what living arrangements will work best:
- If your children are old enough, talk to them.
- Calculate the cost of running separate homes. This can help you negotiate what is fair and manageable.
- Draw a timeline with your ex showing where you are now and where you want to get to. Put in actual dates and list the dates by which things have to be done. This can help you visualise the path ahead.
Looking after children
Asking yourself how you will care for and be responsible for your children after separation can help you keep their needs in mind at a time when this can be difficult. Ask yourself:
- Will I have regular contact?
- Can I work with my ex to share responsibility for their clothing, food, health, education and activities?
- Can I tell them that I love them and I really care about their feelings?
Dividing assets and belongings
A good place to start negotiations is for you and your ex to each list what you think needs to be divided. Then compare your lists. It can help to:
- Remember that some things can be divided later, perhaps when your children are older or grown up.
- Understand your reasons for wanting something – and consider how you can communicate this.
- Consider whether some items might be easier bought again.
As well as friends and family, many others need to be informed of your separation. It can be helpful to draw up a list so you and your ex can decide who is going to inform who.
You may want to write your own checklist and include things such as:
- The children
- Your parents/friends/relatives
- Tax office
- Council tax office
- Mortgage lender
- Benefits office
- Bank/building society
- Credit card companies
- Loan companies
- Health clinic
- Post Office (if any re-directs needed)
- Utilities (water, gas, electricity)
- Telephone/TV/broadband providers
Why not try our ‘Getting documents together’ tool?
Facing the end of your relationship can be traumatic and confusing. Our free tool can help you work out what to do next.