Are you thinking of separating from your spouse?

Some helpful information

 

As a psychologist and family mediator, I work with many clients who are either anticipating or actually going through the separation process. Although there is less of a social stigma attached to divorce now, compared to even twenty years ago, most separating parents still agonize over the decision, particularly with respect to how that outcome will impact them and their children financially and emotionally.

 

These concerns are understandable, as adjustments need to be made post-separation. 
The reasons for the breakdown of the marriage differ from couple to couple.  In turn, how parents handle the separation and their own emotions about it has a direct impact on how the children will adjust too.

 

Suggestions/options:

 

  • Get independent legal advice prior to and during the separation process. If you make less than $50,000 per year you may be eligible for a few hours of independent legal advice or legal representation.  Call Legal Aid Ontario and see if you are eligible for a Legal Aid Certificate.  If you both make less than $50,000 per year you may both qualify for legal aid.   Some lawyers accept legal aid.  Otherwise, if you are paying privately, call a few family lawyers and see who may be the right fit for you.

  • Consider family mediation or collaborative family law as options for addressing separation issues, including financial and custody/access issues.   These options can minimize the possibility of escalating conflict and reduce the likelihood of entering the adversarial Court system which can be costly, prolong the process, and result in other people (judges) making decisions for you and your children with which you may not agree.

  • Make sure you are leaning on family, friends, neighbours who can support you through the process both practically speaking and emotionally.  Monitor and manage your anger, sadness, anxiety, and fears to ensure that they are not spilling over into your work life, social life and children.

  • Take care of yourself.  It is easy to neglect yourself with the added demands of being a single parent.  Ensure that you are getting good sleep, eating well, exercising, and socializing regularly to manage your stress.

  • If you are overwhelmed and feel that you are not coping well, go talk to your doctor and/or seek the services of a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or other regulated health provider with experience dealing with effects of separation.

  • You may experience intense anxiety and, at times, catastrophic or negative thoughts/fears about your future (“what ifs….”).  Focus on one day and one week at a time.  Remind yourself that what you may fear may happen in future (three months or a year from now) may or may not happen.  Therefore, put the thought aside.  If it happens, you’ll deal with it then. If it doesn’t happen, you didn’t put your energy into worrying about it needlessly.

  •  Focus your energies on what you can control and let go of what you cannot or may not be able to control

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