Surviving separation – a practical guide

  • Insight

24 August 2017

Separation can often be a fraught process, especially where children, money and property are involved.  However, it is possible to make the process more survivable.

Here our Family & Relationship experts provide some top tips on how to separate and keep things civil:


Often those involved in the breakdown of a relationship initially just want to vent; justify; or simply feel like they have someone to listen to them. Separation, and potential divorce, can be scary and daunting. The future is unknown and lives are turned upside down. Be that person your friend can turn to, the one who listens to them and that will be the first step to getting your loved one on the road to resolution.

Don’t judge

Not all relationships work.  There is an increasing pressure on people to “make it work”; “have another go”; or “try for your children”. That is all well and good but with the best will in the world, some relationships just aren’t meant to be; and that should be ok. No matter why a relationship breaks down, it does so for a reason. If that is down to your loved one, then don’t let them feel like you are judging them. If the relationship isn’t right for one, it is unlikely to be right for both. Your friend or family member being able to confide in you without fear of jeer allows them let it all out.

Keep up things social…

It’s easy to be with people in the high times. When things get tough, that’s where true friends shine. Don’t leave your friend sitting at home contemplating life because things may be awkward or you don’t know what to say. Do things with them individually, as well as in your friendship circles. Invite them out with the boys or to a girls’ day. Include them. They need to see that life goes on and keeping their social life intact is essential to this.

…but keep it off social media

Social media is great for a number of things but sharing opinions following a separation is not one of them.  If their “ex” goes to social media, let them but don’t follow in attack or in defence.  Support your friends and family in person, not in the “Like and Share” world of social media.  In the long run, they’ll appreciate that far more.

Professional help is ok!

When things get tough, there are experts to help people deal with their emotions. Don’t be afraid to direct your friends to professionals.  It should never be considered a sign of weakness to go to a psychologist or a counsellor. It may well be the best practical advice you can offer. Separation can be a grieving process. Some of the worst decisions are made in the heat of the moment or when people are struggling to cope. From experience, those who come out the other side in the most amicable way are those who are attuned to the fact their life is now going to be different and, emotionally, they are ok with that.

…go to a Family Lawyer

People may think they can resolve matters themselves without the need for expensive lawyers. That can be the case, but too many times people seek advice when it’s too late. Taking legal advice early is not a sign that things are going to become acrimonious. People need to be able to make informed choices and move things forward positively.  Be there emotionally but don’t become a “Google Lawyer” for them.  Yes, lawyers have fees, but so too do plumbers, electricians and mechanics; and in the same way to using their services, early legal advice can save a lot of money in the long run from a botched DIY job.

There are many things to think about when separating. Our Family & Relationships team are experienced in helping people through it all, whatever the issues facing you.