What Happens When You Separate?
The date that a married or de facto couple separate is the date that in their own minds the relationship has come to an end. Usually there is a decisive event, a discussion or an argument which has taken place and at which one party or the other either leaves the joint home or they separate under the one roof.
Once a decision has been made that your relationship is at an end it is important to give consideration to the following;-
- You should attend at Relationships Australia and make arrangements for a Mediation with your former partner. That Mediation can address a number of issues including the possibility of reconciliation but also how the two of you will manage your relationship into the future and any arrangements for your children;
- You should attend at Centrelink and the Child Support Agency and ascertain your obligations and entitlements to ensure that you and your former spouse receive any funds that you are entitled to and/or support you are obliged to provide to your former partner and / or your children as is appropriate;
- Each party should obtain independent legal advice. You can do this in the form of an Initial Consultation with a Solicitor or attend at Legal Aid Queensland, the Cairns Community Legal service or the Women's Legal Service;
- From your initial advice you may then, if it is appropriate, negotiate directly with your former spouse in relation to an Agreement. The alternative is that you can attend at Relationships Australia, The Cairns Dispute Resolution service or an independent mediator to assist you in reaching an Agreement.
If there is family violence then direct negotiations are not appropriate and it is best to use a mediator and/or a Solicitor to assist you in the negotiation process.
Whatever your view of your former partner is, it is important to accept and understand that the other parent holds a significant place in the lives of your children and that you have an obligation to foster and encourage that relationship. Obviously this excludes situations where children have been subjected to abuse from that parent. The need to protect the child from physical or emotional harm will override the child's right to have a meaningful relationship with that parent.
If your relationship was characterised by family violence then it is appropriate that you;-
- Obtain support from a therapist. Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service provides support for adult and child victims of family violence;
- Consider the appropriateness of obtaining a Protection Order (also known as a Domestic Violence Order) to protect you and/or your children from further harm. The Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service and/or the Police can assist you with that as can a private Solicitor;
- Have in place a safety plan to ensure your safety and the safety of your children in relation to any potential future violence;
- Make detailed notes of the incidents of violence which have occurred throughout the relationship; and
- Ensure that you are protected at any future contact with the other person. Consider making use of the Contact Centre for changeovers or employ third persons or friends to assist in that regard.