Preston and Associates: Family and Criminal Law

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Family Law Blog

Our 5 Top Tips for Dealing with Relationship Breakdown

Relationship breakdown is one of the most difficult experiences a person can face in a life time. In the midst of grief, sorrow, and sometimes trauma, it is difficult to know if you are making the right decisions and what step to take next.

Embarking on a new phase of life can be overwhelming and terrifying, and it is often difficult to see that there are better days ahead.

From our vast experience working with people going through separation we have developed our top 5 tips for separating couples.

Our tips are practical considerations you can adopt to try to minimise stress and build strength and resilience to get you through trying times.

  1. Focus on what is within your control and let go of the rest

Often upon separating there is a great sense of having lost control of your life. Life as you once knew it has changed considerably, and aspects of life that were once yours to manage and determine are no longer.

Understandably, people often feel a great sense of anxiety and fear letting go of old ways and entrenched patterns of operating.

A key to releasing anxiety is gaining awareness about what matters are now within your control and learning to let go of what is not.

Continuing to focus on matters that you have little to no control over will only exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, and will do little to assist you to move forward towards your new life.

Whilst we recognise that transitioning towards a new way of operating in the world is very difficult, you will find that in time you will benefit from having awareness about what matters are within your control and those that are best left alone.

This tip is particularly important for separating parties embarking on a process of mediation, arbitration or litigation. If you are engaging in a mediation process to endeavour to reach a resolution in your matter, it is wise to consider that the mediation process will often require both parties to make considerable compromises, and in certain circumstances one or both parties will be required to consider letting go of emotional factors that may be acting as a barrier to a practical resolution to the dispute.

In the event parties are required to embark on Court proceedings, the practical effect of this is that the parties are, in essence, relinquishing their decision-making power regarding their parenting or property dispute to a Judge, who will hear and determine the matter based on the relevant legislative principles, guiding case law, and the evidence before the Court.

This process will call for both parties to completely give decision making control of the matter to the Court. Handing decision making power over to the Court is indeed a very disempowering place to be, and it is for this reason we guide people to consider mediation and negotiations rather than adversarial litigious processes.

Having said that if you are faced with Court proceedings, it pays to reflect on letting go of what you can no longer control, and refocus your time and energy on what you can control. You will find this will assist considerably with alleviating stress.

  1. Compartmentalise – don’t bite off more than you can chew

Rome wasn’t built in a day and your new future won’t be either. Upon separating, there will be lots of tasks that need to be attended to. Apart from dealing with the emotional aspects of separation, you will also need to consider the practical implications, for example, arrangements for children, property settlement and financial considerations to name a few.

We suggest breaking down your tasks into manageable phases. Do not feel that you must have every problem solved automatically. There are some things that can and should be dealt with immediately, for instance setting up new bank accounts, obtaining legal and financial advice etc. but some aspects can be broken down into manageable phases to transition towards.

Each phase will look different for each separating couple as everyone’s circumstances vary, however we find there is great benefit in putting pen to paper and breaking tasks down into manageable phases with estimated timeframes. This practical task can help you to not feel as though you must have all matters sorted out immediately, and to minimise the sense of a looming tsunami of post separation pandemonium headed your way.

Remember to be patient with yourself and do not feel rushed to have everything resolved immediately.

  1. Get informed

It is true what they say, knowledge is power. Upon separation, it is crucial to equip yourself with knowledge about your rights and options. Legal advice is one aspect of the knowledge you will need to gain at separation. We also suggest obtaining financial advice, parenting advice and therapeutic knowledge/support to equip you with strategies to deal with the ups and downs of post separation life.

Having armed yourself with knowledge and resources about your rights and options allows you to feel a greater sense of empowerment and facilitates you making useful decisions about your future.

  1. Prioritise taking time for healing

All too often we neglect to address the emotional aspects of separation. The reality is during separation you will be dealing with all the different stages of grief, and in some circumstances, you may be dealing with trauma. There is no shame is seeking therapeutic assistance during this difficult time, and we encourage people to seek help when required.

The sooner you take steps to heal the sooner you will feel prepared to embrace your new life.

We also recommend taking the time to incorporate things in your life which will aid in your healing and bring you joy. This can be as simple as a walk on the beach, exercise, yoga, meditation, spending time with a trusted friend. Whilst many may think such things are self-indulgent the truth is taking the time to participate in activities that bring you a sense of joy and relaxation will truly assist you to deal with grief, stress and anxiety which will facilitate you being more present and available in other aspects of your life, like your work and /or for your family.


  1. Build your support network

It is vital to know you do not have to face separation on your own. Separating may feel like a very lonely and isolating experience and that sense of isolation can exacerbate stress and anxiety.

As you embark on the road to your new life, focus on building your support network. This network might include professional services as well as family and friends. Your professional network including, your Solicitor, counsellor, financial advisor etc. will be important to call upon to ensure you are well resourced with the knowledge you require to make sound decisions about your future. Your informal support network will also be a vital resource in building your resilience and dealing with the emotional ups and downs.

Our final suggestion is to strive to make space to have a good time. Make time to be social, meet new people and make new memories.  Incorporate new friendships into your support network. Although this stage of your life is indeed difficult it is also the doorway to new beginnings, and an exciting opportunity to reinvent yourself and your future.


Disclaimer: This blog is produced by Preston and Associates: Family and Criminal Law. This blog is not intended to give legal advice. This blog provides general information only on topics related to family and criminal law. At no time, should you rely upon such general information as legal advice. We encourage you to contact Preston and Associates to seek legal advice regarding the circumstances of your matter.

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