By Bernie Bolger
Collaborative Coach, FDRP, counsellor, mediator
Member of CPNSW
1. In the first place, make sure your relationship cannot be repaired. Be proactive – don’t wait six years to call in outside help. And even if your relationship doesn’t make it, the skills learned in relationship counselling especially around communication will stand you in good stead post separation.
In the first place, make sure your relationship cannot be repaired.
2. Choose your lawyer well – preferably one trained in Collaborative Practice. If you want to have an amicable separation, make sure you don’t choose a lawyer who has their own agenda and that is about destroying your ex-partner and running up as many billable hours as possible.
3. Get good financial advice. Financial insecurity is one of the greatest stressors in intact relationships and this is heightened when a relationship breaks down. A collaboratively trained financial adviser will look at the financial outcomes for the family as a whole and help you both accept your new economic reality.
4. Seek whatever professional counselling help you need to get you through the emotional grief associated with the end of a relationship. Well-meaning friends and family think they’re helping when they berate your ex. But they’re not. They are just facilitating your stay in victim mode. A good counsellor will help you deal with the anger, the loss, the sense of failure, the fear and ultimately help you move on towards your preferred future.
5. Explore FDR as an option, especially if there are children involved, either as a standalone process or as part of the Interdisciplinary Collaborative Process. All the research shows that mediated agreements are more sustainable and longer lasting because they are your agreements and have not been imposed on you by an overworked Judge in a very busy Family Court.
6. Collaborative Practice is without doubt the best way to involve lawyers in the process. Your lawyers will be there as part of the team trying to achieve the best outcomes for the family and so won’t try and unpick any agreements.
7. Never forget the children and what is in their best interests. Don’t fall into the trap of using them as pawns in your War – EVER. Children whose parents have separated with minimal conflict show no behavioural, emotional or academic disadvantages when compared with children of a low conflict intact marriage.