January is a time for new beginnings, and once the children are back at school and the fairy lights have been packed away, there is a notable increase in the number of people calling time on a relationship or marriage that has run its course. Picking up a phone to a family lawyer can be an intimidating prospect, so what practical steps can you take to gain some control of the situation if you have decided to separate?1. What about the children?
Deciding when and what to tell the children is often a thorny subject, so start by thinking practically. This is one of the biggest changes that will happen in their lives. Research how you can help them through it and how best to support them. Resolution
are useful sources of information.2. Think about practical arrangements for the children
If you will be continuing to live together for the immediate future, think about how you can both be involved in the children's lives. Perhaps thnk about carving out time for the children to spend with each of you separately each weekend; can you both do some school drop-offs or pick-ups? Can you arrange for each of you to take the children to particular activities during the week or at the weekend?3. Is one of you moving out?
If you have children, how can things be arranged so that you are both close by? Being geographically close will make practical involvement with the children easier. Think through how this can be managed and afforded. Bear in mind that whatever arrangements are in place might need to last several months, so how sustainable are they? Is it realistic for one person to stay with friends or family for a long period of time?4. Keep in contact with the children's school
Make sure that the children's school, nursery or other carer has contact details for both of you and that you both receive any letters, emails or newsletters that are sent out. If there are informal school email or social media groups, make sure that both parents are involved in these. This will keep everyone informed of what's happening in the children's lives, which not only helps on a day-to-day basis with practical arrangements, but also means that the children receive the reassurance of both parents being able to talk to them about the things happening in their lives.5. Communicate
Find a form of communication that works best for you. Face-to-face is hard, but emails and text messages are easy to hide behind and people can say things nd behave in ways that they would not in person. Make use of relationship support services to find a safe space to talk in, if you do not want to see each other alone. Think about whether you would benefit from family or relationship therapy; not necessarily to discuss whether your relationship has a future as a couple, but how you will work together during the divorce process and beyond.