Separation and Divorce Agreements

By Michael Knight

Wednesday 28 January 2009

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The smartest way to settle all the issues surrounding your Separation is to come to an amicable agreement between yourself and your partner, without any form of external intervention from authorities.

If you can put into your mind, that this current event in your life called SEPARATION or DIVORCE, is simply a CHANGE for the better and everyone will GAIN, and not LOSE, you hopefully will perceive the whole process in a much more favourable light. 'Everyone's A Winner' as the song by Hot Chocolate pronounced. Society's institutions by and large haven't fully adopted this new paradigm yet, however, I'm optimistic that in time it will happen, and all Separations will be on the whole a peaceful and inexpensive transition. No harm will come to family members, only good health and prosperity.

Please note I do not advocate Separation and Divorce as the norm, or the preferred option to take over marriage and keeping a family intact, just because the road gets tough at times. No, not at all. It's when a Separation does occur, for whatever reason, it is best it gets done the right way without all the trauma. Would you allow a butcher to chop off your finger because the splinter in it was causing you some pain? Of course not! With some effort you can remove the splinter yourself and go on being a happy camper.

The first step is to both AGREE to follow and stick to the path of making an agreement, however long that path may take, for both of you to be happy.

By making a Separation Agreement there are HUGE benefits and SAVINGS such as:

  • No lawyers
  • No courts and court orders
  • No resrictions on freedom, common sense and practicalities (usually revolving around the dynamics of children)
  • No allegations, defending, justification
  • No fear, violence, guilt
  • No loss — just a change, in fact most people often gain
  • No large external costs (only lodgement and processing fees, some legal advice etc.)
  • No harm and suffering to family members
  • You both have full control over what you put in the agreement
  • You both will usually get what you want (may take some negotiation and time)
  • You can both agree to vary parts of the agreement as family circumstances change
  • You won't come out hating each other, or yourself. Hence in a better position to maintain an ongoing relationship that's civil and friendly for all concerned. Some people even reunite after having first worked through some issues.
  • The family wealth can be maintained in the family, for all family members and future generations to benefit (not dispersed into the hands of the legal establishment and associated bodies)
  • Save, help build or re-build a career
  • and there are so many more—

The advantages of agreements and co-operation are literally endless. This is the way NOW - and for all future generations.

Your Emotions

The TRICK is for you to both take your time, be respectful and fair to yourself, your partner and most of all your children. This is not always easy, in fact it's often extremely hard when you are hurt, in pain, angry, sad, confused, feeling the loss and goodness knows how many other pent-up emotions are inside of you wanting to burst out.

If this is so, these emotions MUST first be let out, otherwise they will hinder your clarity and any fruitful negotiations.

If your emotions can be controlled and kept short, it is advisable to express your hurt and anguish to each other, perhaps by taking it in turns. Maybe set an egg timer for 2 minutes. Keep in mind people express themselves differently, some just talk, others use body language and wave their hands around, some are silent and can't let their emotions out on cue. Most people need varying amounts of time to absorb and process information. There is no right or wrong way — except to be kind and patient.

Seek professional help with your emotions

If you can't both come to some mutual, non-violent, venting of your emotions in the presence of each other, it is advisable for one or both of you to go and seek professional help either individually or as a couple. There is absolutely no shame in this — in fact it's recognised as an extremely mature and wise approach, and strangely enough it can provide much needed growth, insight and can even be fun. Although it's true that family and friends are a great support, various forms of counselling, support groups, churches, workshops and reading books can offer tremendous value. Plus, you never know who you might meet or what you might learn. It can be quite exhilarating.

Once the shock and most of the grief has passed, not necessarily the hurt and lack of forgiveness, as that may remain there for a little while longer, you can begin to work on the specific issues in front of you.

What is a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement is a comprehensive, written agreement between you and your former partner or spouse stating what you have agreed upon. These generally include issues such as Custody, Guardianship, Access, Support, Education and how you will divide Property.

Note: The above names may vary depending on your state and from time to time, however the meanings are usually similar. ie. Custody may equate to Residence, Access is same as Contact

Note: Your separation agreement does not legally end your marriage or common-law relationship, and it is not a divorce. But it is a legal contract — which means you are bound by what it says and it may be difficult to change what you have agreed to in the future, unless by mutual consent to vary the agreement.

Before you sign this agreement it's a good idea to float this agreement with family, friends or a lawyer so you're happy with the short and long term pragmatic ramifications of the agreement.

Remember, take as much time as you require and get as much solid advice as you need. Depending on your partner and how flexible and easy going they are, sometimes it's necessary to be very specific about certain things. That way things are clear and less likely to be misunderstood, especially by a third party such as a mediator, lawyer or court, if things go pear-shaped.

If you need help with aspects of drawing up a separation agreement, research the internet for some guides and source people or organizations that have experience in this area, such as mediators. See a lawyer by all means but be aware not to get drawn into a battle.

When isn't an Agreement possible?

An agreement may not be possible when it's utterly clear your partner has no intention of being co-operative or seeking help in any way. Keep in mind this can take many months and attempts, so it's not a quick process. If this is the case, seeing a lawyer maybe your last resort. Hopefully not, but this will most likely lead to court proceedings which usually carries a high price tag in every respect.


Some common terms:

Custody:
When a family is living together, the parents share custody of their children and together are responsible for providing food, shelter and clothing. After separation or divorce, custody is used to describe who will live with the children and be responsible for providing daily care. Also:

* Sole custody: The children live with one parent only.
* Joint or shared custody: Can mean a number of different arrangements, including an arrangement where the children live part of the time with one parent and part of the time with the other parent.

Guardianship:
When a family is living together, the parents share guardianship, which is the responsibility for making major decisions about such things as what kind of education, health care or religious training the children will receive, and how to manage anything the children may own, such as property or money. After separation or divorce, guardianship can be left in the hands of one parent, or shared between the parents.

Access:
Refers to the time the children spend with the parent who does not have custody. Also:

Specified access:
Your agreement states exactly when and for how long the children will be with their other parent.

Supervised access:
The children can spend time with the parent who does not have custody only with another adult present.

Support/Child support:
Financial support for a former spouse and/or children that must be paid. Also called maintenance.

Education:
What schools(ie. private) or type of education had you agreed upon or planned while you were still together.

Property:
Includes everything you own, such as your car, house, television, appliances, and furniture. It also includes bank accounts, pension benefits, insurance policies, stocks, bonds and other investments.



With love, peace and kindness
Michael

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Your Comments:

+Add a Comment
    By: Marilyn from South Australia, Australia on April 24, 2010 @ 7:22 am
    Thought i would say thank you for the info you have provided as I found it very helpful.
    By: Julian A from WA, AUSTRALIA on March 14, 2010 @ 4:49 am
    Very helpful for me...thx
    By: Daniel W. from QLD, Aust on December 10, 2009 @ 1:51 am
    Great info. Am 23 with one kid and realized how little I knew about separation. Checked out a few other pages. Thanks for the insight bro
    By: Kimmy from NSW, Australia on December 4, 2009 @ 1:05 am
    Great words or wisdom to a mum of two. Always like reading websites with good info. Me ex is still being a pr**k but now at least I have a more of an understanding of what's in front of me. Do you have any advice on how to get throught to someone who is stubborn and pigheaded cos I could surr use it. Also he is the one who left and yet I feel somehow the cause of the break up - any advice?
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