Relationship on the Rocks
  • 20th Sep 2016
  • Article written by Dawn Harrison
  • Share:

The title of this article may conjure an image of cold, troubled waters with potential dangers above and below the surface. If this is a prospect facing you then look to get sensible support from the outset to help you manage the turmoil. Below are some pointers to consider


  • It may not be too late to repair the damage.  Lots of organisations offer support and guidance on practical issues people face when threatened with separation.  Relate Counselling can help identify with a couple if their relationship can be repaired or guide them to come to terms with the loss of their union.  If reconciliation is not possible, a specialist family lawyer is commonly the next point of call to help advise the best course of action open to them.


  • Reaching agreement without acrimonious Court action is preferable to avoid:
    • Increasing tensions and distress for all
    • Escalating costs and financial worries
    • Damaging the parental relationship and consequently any children.


  • Explore the alternative dispute resolution opportunities like mediation or collaborative processes.  If emotions are running high, by taking a step back, you can regain the ability to think more clearly.  Taking time to reflect and then act rationally can avoid lots of anguish.  Many people regret actions or words spoken in the heat of the moment but the damage done may remain.


  • Think carefully about the consequences of acting irresponsibly, especially when it relates to your children or to money.  Children are very vulnerable when parents separate and they need to know that both parents love them and will continue to be there for them.  Financial pressures can lead to relationship problems, but running two rather than one household will only compound any financial pressures so the situation will get worse not better.


  • When one person leaves the family home, they can rarely take all their belongings with them at once.  Sensible arrangements need to be agreed to allow them to return for their remaining items.  Joint items within the home that have been chosen or purchased together should be preserved until an agreement can be reached on a fair distribution between the separating couple.


  • The person that leaves is often a co-owner of the family home.  Understanding the legalities are important in this as in other areas.  The absent person is still bound by their responsibilities to any mortgage lender and should ensure that the home and contents remain protected by insurance.  The leaving party continues to have rights to enter, ideally on giving reasonable notice, unless a Court order has been obtained that directs that they cannot on account of physical violence having occurred. 


  • Analyse your financial resources to work out how they can meet everyone’s needs.  It is likely that economies will be necessary to cover all essentials.  Drawing up a priority list of what you and your estranged partner/spouse need is important.  Enquiring what help in the form of benefits or alternative sources of income may be available will also assist in continuing to meet the family’s budget. 


  • Taking early advice can help you steer a safer course through the dilemmas that separation can bring and make the experience less traumatic.   Try to preserve some respect for the other person no matter how difficult the situation.  It is easier to face challenges when each is respectful of the other.  Action taken to hurt the other person all too often results in retaliation that leads to unwanted distress, costs and harm.  Talk to one of the specialist family team at Whitehead Monckton who have a wealth of experience in these matters.