real life

'We need to talk about the mental load of separation.'

AMICA
Thanks to our brand partner, AMICA

Almost eight years ago, I walked down the aisle to the view of my eagerly awaiting future husband.        

My eyes began to well up as I saw the joy in his face. I had our first child in my belly. It was meant to be the start of my happily forever after.  

Three kids later, a sea change, living our dream beach life, and what felt like a lifetime of memories, I never dreamt that I would be now six months post-separation.  

It has only been six months, but it has felt like forever. You ever watched your life move forward while the rest of you felt stuck in the ground? That is what separation felt like for me.

My life was firmly rooted in the ground and then pulled out like a shrieking Mandrake from Harry Potter

Of course, I knew it was coming. It wasn't a surprise that it was. Our marriage had changed, and I tried hanging on until the very end. But it wasn't enough. 

As soon as those final words were spoken, my heart was broken. But suddenly, the reality of separation set in, which was much more intense than I ever expected.

Being separated was more than just a relationship ending. I realised I didn't know who I was anymore. My identity had been lost in my marriage. I didn't have much of an income at the time. I felt powerless. 

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Separating is heartbreaking. It is the loss of a relationship, a breaking commitment, a chunk of your life that is lost. The emotional turmoil is enormous. But it is so much more than that; it is all the planning and navigating your new life that I honestly had no idea how to do. 

I had bills to set up, internet to set up, and all the little things you forgot about that were just ticking over while I was in my relationship. 

I wrote lists, and that helped me. I slowly connected services and organised accounts for rent and all other things. I reached out for help as much as I could. It started to become more manageable, and I began to open up more about it.

As I started to get my day-to-day life sorted, I realised there was still much more that I wasn't prepared for—organising assets, organising children, who gets what and who sees who, when. 

My brain felt like it was going to explode. I felt mentally exhausted. I also had well-meaning friends and family to contend with, who were trying to help, shouting at me to take half of everything, if not more, to divide time up with the kids. 

I was inundated with all this conflicting information, and it made me crumble. I was told to contact lawyers but, I was a single mother on zero income.

Image: Supplied.

I also felt overwhelmed and scared with the idea of lawyers. I wondered if they would be necessary. But what I did know is that, despite my relationship ending, I did not want the father of my children and myself to hate each other. 

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I wasn't interested in a race to the bottom. I wanted us to stay on the same page, even become friends – who could share our children's delight and have the physical things we shared divided fairly – and also, to remember my value.

I didn't want things to get messy or expensive. We both agreed on this. We both decided we wanted things to be amicable.

Naturally, I turned to the internet and searched "how to make separation easy" and came across amica. It's a website that makes separating much simpler and more uncomplicated process. 

amica, in short, helps to make things amicable. It is something I wish I had when I first separated months ago, but something I can still use now. 

It is an entirely online service, and helps anyone navigate through your separation with your former partner, where it can assist in making fair parenting arrangements if you have kids, and to divide property and money.

For someone like me who has a lot of anxiety, and finds too much information an overload nightmare, this is a godsend in my situation. It's one shared spot we can use together that houses all the relevant information about separation and links to free legal help and other support services.

amica is definitely a service that makes me feel assured that it's reliable and trustworthy.

It was developed by family lawyers, and is funded by the Australian Government. It uses artificial intelligence to assist couples in resolving any ongoing differences by considering the length of the relationship, assets and earnings, age and health needs, contributions to the relationship, arrangements for taking care of children and future needs. 

The service is free to use for couples if one person is receiving income support. For anyone else, there is only a small fee payable to finalise written agreements.

You can feel empowered using a platform like this by being informed and confident to move on without the pressure to get a lawyer involved. 

I didn't intend on becoming another single-parent household statistic, especially whilst trying to navigate the unforeseen in a pandemic. And it was unfortunate that I was, but I know I am not alone. 

COVID has put such a massive strain on relationships everywhere, and not just mine. I am seeing friends breaking up, and I have been directing them to the website, as I really know how helpful the service has been in my situation. Even those who are unsure what to do, as it is such a useful resource for people who are thinking of going through a separation.

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Image: Supplied.

As a trained social worker, I was also impressed that amica offers tools for those experiencing family violence. It is secure, with 2-factor authentication, and emphasises to its user to only use the site if they feel safe. The guide is on the website where people can check if it is suitable for their situation, so you know straight away if it is right for you. 

The mental load of separation is heavy, and it is so lovely to have that load partially carried by an invaluable tool that can help do the serious thinking for you. I am, for one, grateful that someone dreamt up this idea, as now separation doesn't have to feel so daunting.

amica is a simple, affordable and quick way for couples to agree on parenting, property and money issues when they separate. To help you decide if amica is right for your situation, work through these five questions  here.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also find support services in your local area by visiting www.respect.gov.au/services.

Feature Image: Supplied.

AMICA
amica is an online tool that guides couples who wish to separate amicably through parenting, property and money decisions, and helps them create clear, simple written agreements. Developed by experts at National Legal Aid, and backed by the Australian Government, amica helps amicable couples separate without ‘lawyering up’ – saving them time and money and helping them move on. The service is free to use for couples if one person is receiving income support from Centrelink. For anyone else, there is only a small fee payable to finalise written agreements. For more information, please visit amica.gov.au