Separation is like an endurance test. Once you have made it through the initial breakup and the logistics of separating, you need to work through the complexities of the property settlement.
For some couples this is just too hard, and many cases hit unsurmountable roadblocks that end in costly family court battles, breaking any tender ties of respect that were remaining for each other.
But it certainly doesn’t have to be this way.
By working through your financial settlement in a civil manner with your ex, rather than against them, does more than save money on lawyers. It can strengthen your new relationship as ex-partners and pave the way for a successful co-parenting journey together.
So, the big question: What is the secret of getting through your financial settlement without hating your ex?
We have helped lots of couples with this tricky time in their lives and pride ourselves on helping them take a more amicable and cost-effective pathway. Here are our suggestions to help you too.
FOCUS ON THE GOOD MOMENTS
We will start with a hard but effective tool to help you through this period.
Pretty much every relationship had good times. There would have been a point when you really though you would be settling down and living out your life with your ex. Taking time to focus on these moments can dowse the flames of conflict.
Accepting that you both really believed in one another once, and although things didn’t go to plan, honouring the good times in your relationship will make for a more peaceful and respectful separation process.
LOOK TO THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST
Almost in contradiction to our last point, while it is good to remember your past relationship, make sure it is only the positives you are focusing on.
There is nothing to be gained from going over and over old ground that doesn’t serve you as an ex-couple. The very fact that you are separating is enough proof that you were unhappy in your relationship. Bringing up past hurts, negative behaviour and unhappy events will create friction that will hamper your property settlement efforts.
Instead, look to the future and how you can create a new relationship as a separated couple and co-parents. The future for you, your ex-partner and your children is what matters now. Your property settlement is the perfect time to mold it to be untroubled and ultimately, happy.
CHANGE YOUR THINKING
In the brilliant words of Albert Einstein:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
This applies to you as a separating couple on a number of levels.
Being in an unhappy relationship may have left both parties in a destructive state of mind, plagued with limiting beliefs and insecurities. Such feelings will cause further conflict and be counterproductive to important decision-making which needs clear communication and understanding.
Breaking this self-sabotaging cycle is incredibly important to access the clarity needed to find the right way forward
It is very important to show respect for your ex-partner at this time. This is regardless to whether he/she chooses to give respect in return.
This point in your life is a pinnacle and what happens now will remain with you forever, both the practical decisions you make and the way you behave. You want to look back and know that you did the right thing.
If your relationship had a particularly rocky end, showing respect can be difficult. Try and focus on your ex-partner as another human being just like you, who is also searching for peace and happiness in their life.
Remember, if you show respect to your ex-partner, it is more likely that you will receive it in return. This will up the general etiquette during your financial separation immeasurably.
FURTHER READING: How to give and gain respect during your separation.
THINK OF THE KIDS
One of the simplest ways to make this separation business easier, is to stay focused on your children. This means always keeping in mind what is best for them, not what is best for you or your ex-partner.
By doing this you are likely to find some sacred middle ground. A place where you have something in common, a shared focus and the same end goals.
If you feel your thinking is going off-course and is more about punishing your ex or winning the battle, remind yourself of the children involved. The very best end result for them is having parents who have their best interests at heart.
It can’t hurt to gently remind your ex-partner of this if you feel they are getting fixated on an issue that won’t be beneficial to the children.
CHOOSE THE PEACEFUL PATH
The classic line from the movies: “I’ll see you in court” has a lot to answer for.
Assuming that your case is destined for a day in court is completely wrong. In fact, a day in court is exactly what you should be avoiding at all costs. It is fair to say that any family law case that makes it to a court room will leave behind a shattered family which is almost impossible to fix on any level.
Instead, choose the peaceful path and leave the court free to deal with more complex matters, such as DV or child safety cases.
Note: Once you and your ex-partner engage separate lawyers you will become further divided and, possibly unknowingly, become part of an aggressive, costly process which could end in a court room.
Instead, try to communicate with one another to find solutions. For professional advice reach out to a separation accountant such as Divide who will work with both you and your ex-partner as a team finding cost effective, amicable paths towards your new lives.
FURTHER READING: 8 Ways to help your children deal with divorce.
GET THE TIMING RIGHT
There are timelines around the property process that you need to adhere to. This includes processing your property settlement within 12 months of the date of your divorce becoming final.
However, timing is also important on a personal level.
Rushing into serious discussions about finances and the future while emotions are still raw or running high, could be unproductive and set the scene for a tedious battle.
Instead, allow time for both parties to take a breather and find a level of clarity around the relationship breakdown. Use this time to gather the paperwork needed to create your asset pool (the first step in a property settlement) and to think what you want from the separation and how you would like to handle it.
By doing this you will both be calmer, more able to communicate and hopefully more empathic to each other’s needs at property settlement time.