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Newly broken up? Here are 10 separation tips to help get you through it.

Ok, so you are here… You are SEPARATED! I think it would be safe to say that most don’t think that they get into a relationship or marriage knowing it will fail and that there will be the “fall out” period.

This “fall out” can be like no other experience in your life. It is one where you fall into a world full of unknowns and emotional rollercoasters that you attempt to ride the best way you can. You end up landing in a place where you end up fighting or having major blows with someone who you’ve shared your life with intimately for a period of time.

Hindsight is wonderful, and using these simple separation hacks, that many have only found after going through the journey, may save you months of soul searching.

Video by Mamamia

1. Let yourself be sad (letting go of a person or the family unit is crushing).

Do not underestimate the power your ex may have had on you. Let’s face it, breaking up with someone you relied upon or shared your thoughts with daily isn’t going to be easy to let go for most of us. Spend days being SAD. Mope around in your PJ’s and eat chocolate or watch bad TV back to back. Then, make an effort to dust it off and wake up the next morning focused on making simple steps to a happier day.

2. Invest in a co-parenting app.

An app can help manage logistics and interactions that need to happen when you share kids together. This simple hack will diffuse many emotional explosions in front of the kids. It keeps things simple and objective when all you want to do is unleash your emotions on your ex. The use of apps really helps avoid those uncomfortable situations for the kids. A few apps that our tribe have been using are COZI, 2HOUSES, and Our Family Wizard.

3. Set up mechanisms to avoid high conflict (neutral exchanges).

This hack is similar to point two, in that it diffuses the emotional conflict that is a temptation when you see your ex. Setting up neutral exchanges for kids rather than direct drop off and pickup at your homes may help avoid the temptation to unleash your fury. Consider organising exchanges at school or at after school activities, perhaps a friend’s house or even a child contact centre in a highly volatile or even violent situation.

Ian Shann, a mediator with over 20 years of experience in the area of separation and divorce from Move On Mediation, gives his advice:

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“More often than not, parties who are separating are in a tense and highly emotional situation. The potential for conflict is high. Their interaction and communications may greatly frustrate the possibility of finding sensible resolution of their differences.

Unless they find mechanisms or processes to control and reduce their disagreements, the situation can flare up in ways that drive them further apart and into long-term conflicts that can not be in their best interests.

Alternative dispute resolution – such as mediation – can be very useful at such times and produce outcomes that reduce tension, control conflict and save time, money and stress”.

Find Ian in the Separation Exchange’s directory.

4. Agree on boundaries the best you can – i.e. no slagging your ex partner to the kids.

This is a tough one to do in my experience, especially during the early days post-separation. Trust me, I have not played nice but then neither did my ex (see my sordid story!). I would see my ex with his new “playmate” on Facebook and go into livid mode and spin off rants via text. Yes, removing them from social media as “friends” is also a good idea, but for some reason we both thought that it would be OK (it wasn’t).

This also means setting up rules of “disengagement,” and avoiding slagging or trash talking your ex no matter how hard it gets. Your kids have so much to deal with as it is, they do not need the weight of your issues with their other parent to be put on their little shoulders. So, start by chatting/texting/emailing your ex about boundaries and rules of disengagement. It will benefit your vibe and lighten the load of separation ever so slightly on your kids.

Mandy Nolan discusses just how vital support is during separation. Post continues after audio…

5. Gather information and take copies of documents that that you will need.

This will help you even more if you do this prior to seeing your family lawyer. (see the Separation Exchange for experts and checklists!).

Here are a few items to copy/collate: recent bank statements, birth certificates, share statements, asset statements, list all assets and collate all supporting documents, super statements of you and your ex’s, any wills, land title certificates. Consider colour copying kids’ special art work so that you both have copies of them. I kept folders for each year of my kids’ “special” drawings, copying these and sharing them with your ex will definitely win some trust from your ex and reflect you considering their needs, too.

6. Consider working on a STRATEGY.

Even if you cannot afford a full drawn legal battle, consider investing in a senior family lawyer to run through your situation and provide you with a strategy or road map of what approach to use. Setting yourself up with a legal understanding will help clear up any misconceptions.

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7. Do your research.

Consider starting with Separation hot links to begin with to gain an understanding about basic concepts/templates, and then frame your questions around the gaps in your understanding to ask your lawyer. Arming yourself with even a rough idea on certain topics related to separation will give you a head start when you see your family lawyer.

8. Keep communication channels with your ex open.

Consider conversing with your ex as much as possible to identify the gaps while seeing a professional mediator/lawyer (seeing an expert is so important).

Work out what you DO agree on, and then list the items that are causing conflict. Focus on the items of conflict one by one and be prepared to compromise. As excruciating as it can sometimes be trying to reason with your ex, doing this directly and preparing yourself with pep talks prior to interacting with them may save you so much money. Arm yourself up with a lawyer and educate yourself on the topics that are causing conflict, then set up time to converse directly with your ex to compromise/resolve. My ex and I both saw lawyers separately and then had a few sessions together to discuss/reason with each other about items we did not agree on. We then engaged our lawyers to document and advise us. Of course, this approach will not work for everyone, but keeping the lines of communication open will be helpful in my experience.

9. Understand you will get through this, and it all falls into place in time.

Yes, I hear you saying, “it’s easy for her to say”. But you will get through this, and choosing your battles and learning how to compromise may save you a load of anguish and pain.

10. Keep busy and set up distractions.

I did not have much ‘free’ time while working full time as a single parent who had the kids the majority of the time. My life just after separation included meal prep, catching up on washing, grocery shopping, and going to watch the kids play sport, even on my ‘off’ weekend. This meant there was limited time to do much else. However, I did manage to fit kickboxing classes during my lunch break once a week. This weekly luxury with a much younger work colleague rewarded me two-fold. I met new friends, unloaded all my emotional frustrations, and somehow managed to get asked out on a few dates – YES!

Make the effort to plan new things to get you out of your comfort zone within your time and money limitations, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

This is also a great way to temporarily tune out of your ‘separation situation’ and the stresses that come with this temporary period of your life.

Anju has been through separation and is the founder of The Separation Exchange, a portal support and information for anyone going through separation & divorce. The portal has a directory of experts nationally that are only usually found through word of mouth. Learn from mistakes made by others going through separation, be informed and download free resources. Visit: www.theseparationexchange.com

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