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Disagreeing about separation – what happens if one of you doesn’t want to split up?

September 19, 2016  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

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A common and particularly sensitive issue that often arises during separation is when the desire to separate is not mutual. There are many different reasons why one partner may not want to go through with the separation process. Sometimes, one partner feels that there is still hope for their relationship and wants to try working through the problem. Sometimes one partner has simply fallen out of love but is finding it hard to articulate why. Whatever the situation, if there is a disagreement over separation, the process will need careful handling with the guidance and support of an experienced solicitor to help you come to a solution that takes the feeling of both sides into account.

The shock of discovering your partner wants a divorce can affect people in different ways, causing a whole host of conflicting feelings: denial, anger, upset, or a determination to ‘fix’ things – even if the situation is unfixable. In some cases, people even try to string out the separation process as long as possible to ‘punish’ their partner. And while all these feelings can be rationalised, there comes a point where you both have to face up to the truth if you want to find a resolution that doesn’t end in a long bill of legal fees and ongoing stress and animosity with your ex-partner.

So what do you do if you disagree about separation? Here are a few suggestions for helping you to come to a mutual decision:

  • Remember that your relationship was built on love. You might not feel like that now, but it’s important not to erase the good parts of your partnership – no matter what you’ve been through as a couple. That means showing each other respect and coming to terms with the fact that your relationship may have come to an end, but once you only wanted the best for each other.
  • Talk to each other. One of the most common reactions to disagreements is silence. Whether you’re angry, hurt, in shock, or simply have nothing to say, a lack of communication is only going to make the situation worse. If you can’t talk face to face, try writing your feelings and intentions down in an email or a letter, or arrange a mediation session to work things through with a professional objective adjudicator.
  • Respect your partner’s decision. If you’re the one who wants to separate, acknowledge that your partner may be left feeling totally sideswiped by your decision. Give them time and space to let it sink in, and take things slowly. If your partner is the one who wants to separate, acknowledge that they must believe they have a valid reason for doing so – even if it seems hurtful, unfair or means having to come to terms with an unpleasant situation. Once again, time and space will help you to process the news and take the next step.
  • Seek outside help. For some couples, reaching the point of separation is a catalyst to resolve problems in their relationship and strengthen it. And even separating couples can benefit from couples counselling – the extra support may help you to work through the separation process with fewer disagreements and more cooperation. Mediation is another effective method for couples seeking advice and guidance through separation, and allows you to come to an agreement out of court.
  • Be clear and realistic. If you are the one seeking a divorce, be clear about your decision. Explain your reasons and try to see your partner’s point of view. If you’re the one unwilling to separate, ask yourself honestly whether you think your relationship can be rebuilt, or if you are feeling daunted by the changes ahead.
  • Take it one step at a time. If the decision to separate has been sudden and unexpected, give yourselves time to adjust. Tackle individual aspects one by one, such as living arrangements, plans for co-parenting, or how to divide up assets and belongings. Start by speaking to a solicitor or mediator to discuss your options, and what to expect from the separation process.

And remember, the initial stage of separation is often the hardest to deal with. We all find change difficult to cope with, but it will get easier. Use the expertise of your solicitor to guide you through the process, and do your best to keep communicating with your ex for a cooperative and positive outcome.

If you’re in need of advice on divorce, separation or mediation, speak to one of the friendly family lawyers at Frances Lindsay & Co and let us take the weight off your shoulders. We offer legal services across the Thames Valley, including Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Henley, Maidenhead, Marlow, Windsor, and throughout Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

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