There are a number of issues to consider if you are thinking of leaving a relationship, whether it is a marriage or de facto. This article examines some of those and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of ending your relationship with your partner.

 Why leave a relationship? 

In our experience, the answer to this question falls into two broad categories:

1.Domestic violence

First, if you are the victim of domestic violence, and there is no solution but to leave the relationship, that usually means leaving the home, with the children if you don’t want them to stay with the perpetrator of the violence.

 Or you can apply for an Intervention Order (see below).

2. End of relationship

Secondly, you have given your relationship a lot of thought and have decided, weighing everything up, that you don’t want it to continue. This may be the case, whether or not you have started, or are thinking of starting, a new relationship.

Well, so far, so good – that makes sense – doesn’t it?

What should I consider if I am thinking of leaving him/her?

  • What about mediation and counselling?

A sensible place to start it to think about whether it is worth trying to save the relationship.  Unfortunately, by the time you decide it’s over, you may have also decided that it’s too late to talk. But it isn’t.

Counsellors, mediators and psychologists spend many years studying and in practice and are the experts in helping couples through difficult times. Men, in particular, are often reluctant to see a counsellor or mediator saying,  “I don’t need my head read.”

But it’s certainly worth seeing a professional, either with your partner or by yourself, to explore the possibilities of saving the relationship – and the heartbreak that can go with separation and divorce. Relationships Australia have a long history in successfully helping people in these difficult times.  Their Greensborough office can be contacted on 9431 7777.

  • What about the children?

There used to be an old saying, “We’re staying together for the sake of the children.”  But the fact is that the children will probably do better, if the relationship really is over, by you and your partner going your separate ways, rather than you staying together in a loveless partnership, arguing and being miserable. Children are very tuned in to what is happening at home. Their parents fighting can have a serious impact on their welfare and development. 

  • What about finances?

This is an area that requires serious consideration before you separate. How are you going to cope if you leave the home and rent? Who will pay the mortgage on the family home? What about child support? Can you apply for your partner to pay you Spousal Maintenance? 

While people often don’t think about these things in the emotional turmoil leading up to one of you leaving, it’s best to try to make financial arrangements before the separation. If you are going to mediation or counselling, raise these issues there and try to reach an agreement with your partner about who is going to pay what.

They can also help you reach a settlement about longer term issues, like how much time the children are going to spend with each of you, and how you are going to divide up your property.

If you and your partner can’t agree about the children, the division of assets and financial arrangements, your family lawyer is available to help you negotiate separation with your partner.  In fact, even if you are separating on amicable terms, it is worth getting advice from a family lawyer to ensure the division is fair and to protect your best interests and those of your children.

  • What about an Intervention Order?

Intervention Orders are required in situations of domestic violence and should not be used as a negotiating tactic during separation.

 It’s relatively easy to get an Intervention Order from the local Magistrates Court. In urgent situations of domestic violence you should call the police. Otherwise, contact the court, make an appointment, go to the court, and tell your story to the magistrate.

 If they consider that it’s urgent, an Interim Intervention Order can be made that day. Your partner is not notified of the order until after it’s made. The order can prohibit your partner from assaulting you and it may also order them to leave the home.

If there are children, they are often included in the order. Because the case may not come on for a final hearing for many months after the interim order is made, this can result in the children not seeing their other parent for a long time. Think about that and the consequences for the children's relationship with that parent, and the difficulties that may create in you reaching an overall settlement with your ex.

 An Intervention Order can be an effective protection against family violence, but it can be very destructive when it comes to the children. Remember, you will have a relationship with your former partner for the rest of your life, because of the children.

 Get legal advice before acting

 If you are suffering from domestic violence or just thinking about separating from your partner, you should discuss your specific situation with your family lawyer before acting. Tonkin Legal offers a fixed-fee for pre-separation advice. Our experienced family law team will meet with you and clearly explain your legal entitlements and obligations if you decide to separate from your partner. We'll help you put together a plan to enable you to separate from your partner in a way that protects your best interests (and the best interests of your children) in the short term and the long term.