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The right way to separate

Leslie F. Barbara Partner and Head of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron’s Matrimonial & Family Law Group
The right way to separate

Separation is more than taking a break from your marriage and living apart from your spouse.  It is an important time to plan and reflect on you and your family’s legal, financial, and emotional ramifications if you decide to end your marriage.  There are many things to consider, but here are a few important things to do and not do when separating.


Do

Do consult an experienced matrimonial attorney

It is important to speak with a professional expert who can advise you about your legal rights and obligations as you move through the separation process. Select someone that you feel comfortable with because you will be sharing very personal information that requires complete honesty.

Do think of your children

Although you may have your own emotions to deal with, remember that you are a parent, first and foremost. This is a very difficult and traumatic time for most children and you have an obligation to provide them with compassion, love, and the support that they need. Make it clear that this is between you and your spouse and has nothing to do with them.  Maintain an open dialogue and encourage them to share how they are feeling.  If they are not handling things well, get professional help for them to assist in dealing with their emotions.

Do organize your finances

Financial planning is essential to minimizing the cost of your divorce if you decide to move in that direction, and increases the chance of a more favorable financial situation for both the short and long-term. The more knowledgeable you are with regard to your family’s financial situation, the better prepared you will be when it comes to managing your financial future.

Do start a journal

During this stressful and complicated time, journaling will help you stay organized. It’s easy to lose track and forget important information that should be shared with your attorney and other professionals helping you.

Do get professional help

Seeking professional help for you and your spouse, if they are willing, helps to identify and facilitate healthy discussions to see if you can work things out.  It’s natural to feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster during this time, and it is important to recognize the possible negative effects of not dealing with the emotions you are feeling.  Learning the right tools will help you move through the emotional healing process as quickly as possible.


Don't

Do not represent yourself

Although you may know the details of your marriage, you don’t have the knowledge, legal skills, or experience required to conduct a smooth divorce process, if you decide to end your marriage.   Let go of your need to control the situation and hire a family law attorney who is skilled in this area of law.

Do not put your children in the middle

Just like you, your children will be experiencing a flood of emotions during this process and should not be involved.  Often times, children feel they are the cause of a divorce, which can lead to emotional problems.  Involving your children or blaming them will only increase the level of trauma and will negatively impact how they grow into adults.

Do not isolate yourself

Because it’s very easy to fall into a rut of depression and despair, try and surround yourself with people who love you and support you and your decisions. Remember, you are not alone during this process.

Do not use divorce as a threat

Do not threaten divorce to get back at your spouse or to try and change their behaviors.  People will only truly change if they really want to change.  Seek professional help.

Do not focus on the past

You can’t change the past and dwelling in the “what ifs” will prevent you from moving forward in a positive direction. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and try to avoid the same situation from happening in the future.


Summary
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Again, separation is more than taking a break from your marriage and living apart from your spouse.  It is an important time to plan and reflect on you and your family’s legal, financial, and emotional ramifications if you decide to end your marriage.


More expert advice about Divorce and Separation Law

Photo Credits: Confused couple @ iceteastock - Fotolia.com; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Leslie F. BarbaraPartner and Head of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron’s Matrimonial & Family Law Group

Leslie F. Barbara is a Partner and Heads the New York law firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron’s Matrimonial and Family Law group. She specializes in all aspects of matrimonial and family law and litigation, including separation, divorce, equitable d...

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