Separation/Divorce – Can Separation And Divorce Be Avoided?

“In 2015, there were 48,517 divorces granted in Australia, an increase of 2,019 (4.3%) from the 46,498 divorces granted in 2014” (Australian Bureau of Statistic). This shows that there are more and more couples who were not able to rescue their marriage. Some people enter into a new relationship after their divorce and re-marry with the hope that they will finally find their true love. Unfortunately, the rate of divorce in the second and the third marriages are much higher than the rate of divorce in the first marriage… …” Past statistics have shown that in the U.S. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce “ (Psychology Today).          

So, the question is, why do couples separate and divorce in the first place?

Often couples neglect the importance of attending to their relationship problems as early as possible. They leave it far too long until the separation crisis has happened. Separation and divorce can be avoided when both parties are wanting and willing to work on their issues together. It is important to some professional help as soon as possible if you cannot resolve your issues by yourself.

There are some reasons why couples end up in separation and divorce.

  1. Fear of “rocking the boat” – Sometimes the fear of conflict or fear of “rocking the boat” make some people choose not to address the issues that bother them and slowly it builds up in disappointment and resentment towards each other, which can lead to separation and divorce if left unaddressed.
  2. Tie the knot means things will be ok – Others believe that once they tie the knot, things will be ok, and because of life’s demands, e.g. work, children and other commitments, the importance of nurturing their relationship becomes a low priority or neglected. Slowly communication declines, the emotional connection disappears, both parties become easily irritated with small things, avoidance of each other and doing their own things to fill the gap of being unable to connect or fighting begins increasing and affection and sexual relationship decline.

However, separation and divorce cannot be always avoided when there is:

  • Abuse in the relationship and the perpetrator doesn’t want to change
  • A toxic relationship because one partner or both are under substance abuse, e.g. drug, alcohol, etc.
  • Infidelity and the relationship cannot be healed because the deception continues and therefore it’s impossible to rebuild the trust in the relationship

What happens when people have to separate and divorce

During separation, people often live in uncertainty, as they are unsure whether their relationship will last or not, whereas it is more definitive in divorce, which involves the loss of love and the death of a relationship. The person who is left behind will normally experience the separation and divorce process different from those who make the decision to leave the relationship.

When someone announces separation, usually they have made their way out already in the pre-separation. Whereas, the one who has been left behind is the one who has to go through the grief and loss process, which includes denial, confusion and pain, bargaining, anger, depression, bitterness, loneliness, inability to trust, learning to accept and to forgive in order to start a new life.

What is involved in separation and divorce inevitable?

Each case needs different approaches according to their situation. However, there are some common issues that you need to know when you decide to separate and divorce:

  • Financial/property settlement
  • Parenting order/dealing with visits, for those who have children
  • Practical issues: where to live, sorting out the belongings, children financial support, ongoing care of the children, before and after school care, school functions, children activities, school holidays, etc.
  • Dealing with in-laws, grandparents, extended family, friends and their responses to the separation and divorce
  • Emotional turmoil not just for the couple but also for the children and their families
  • The struggles in adjusting to new life
  • Prolong court case with property settlement and parenting order or children custody
  • Continual emotional, mental, physical, financial cost during the court process which sometimes can take years to settle

What practical steps do I need to be aware of during separation and divorce?

  • Building a support network with family and friends. Isolating yourself will only make it worse.
  • Letting the school know so they can support your children during this difficult transition
  • Setting up your own bank account
  • Go to Centrelink and Child Support Agency to get some financial support if that is applicable to you
  • Find a Mediator to negotiate the property settlement and the parenting order of your children, as it is cheaper to do it this way
  • If Mediation does not work then you need to find a lawyer to deal with your property settlement and a family lawyer for the parenting order of your children
  • Seek Professional Counselling to support you and your children

What should I do when my spouse refuses to come to counselling with me?

It is very common when one party in the couple refuses to come to marriage counselling. Even though ideally it will be easier for both parties to come and work on their issues, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to work only with one person at the beginning of the counselling process. As the person who comes to counselling will be growing in understanding their relationship and make some positive changes, often attracting their spouses to join in the counselling process.

Is it still possible to restore the marriage/relationship after the separation?

YES, it is still possible to restore your marriage/relationship after separation, providing:

  • Both parties are wanting and willing to work on their issues
  • Both parties are prepared to take the risk to change. Remember by not changing, there will be a bigger risk that you, your partner and your children have to suffer
  • Both parties are committed to restoring their relationship

In fact, sometimes in some cases, separation is necessary for each person to have a space to clear the air, reflect on themselves and their relationship, working on their issues and re-commit themselves.

If you are unsure where to go with your marriage/relationship at this moment, we can help you to discuss further some of the issues you are facing.