As a Sydney Family lawyer not, a single day goes by that I don’t receive a call from a potential client wanting ‘pre-separation’ legal advice.
Seriously! If you have thought about divorce or breaking up and you have found a divorce lawyer and you are literally dialling the number right now to make that appointment, you are done!
You just don’t know it yet!
So many people live in this state of suspended fear occasionally experiencing a spark or moment of possibility of what life could offer them, if they simply packed their bags, their belongings, (their children and pets) and just walked out (or even ran out). Sadly, the reality for too many people is that they are stuck in the circular and never -ending inner dialogue of ‘should I stay, or should I do”?
Is this you – do you rationalize the years of misery by saying things like:
“he/she is not always bad”
“he/she is a ‘good person’ deep down”
“but the children are too young, about to start school or finishing school or just about to get married or and or and or…. And the list never ever ends”
“the grass isn’t greener on the other side”
“I’m too old now” or the classic “what will people say or think”.
Really? And who cares what people say!
My answer is simple: Stop deluding yourself; stop the pain for yourself, your spouse and your children and get help. Get support.
What you need is deep soul-searching work, where you ever so gently wake yourself up.
Therapy or coaching will help you shake, remove and even trash permanently your short sighted and blurry rose-coloured glasses and open a world that is transparent, clear and real. If in fact your spouse/ partner or lover is this amazing, wonderful, kind and loving human – then you will awaken to appreciate this gift before you – however the reality is more likely to be that you have been in pain for months, years if not decades and finally you are beginning to see the light.
This process will at times be confronting, challenging and even scary.
I recall the very first time I mentioned the word divorce with my coach it freaked me out!
When I actually said the words out loud “I want a divorce” boy or boy was that one of the most vulnerable and scariest moments of my life!
What it did however was get me out of “should I stay or should I go” circular and going no-where thinking.
I know it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
You don’t have to believe me, I encourage you to check out all out testimonials from clients who have found power, freedom and courage after going through their divorce.
So, what are the risks in staying way past the relationship use by date?
Where do I start?
Most of the risks in staying are hidden behind closed doors. Over time however they flow onto all other areas of your life – anything from your ability to manage the normal growing pains of children, to staying focused and sustaining meaningful work right through to making horrific decisions about your finances and having adverse impact on your emotional, physical and psychological health.
Case: We had a client who was so stuck and unable to see that her partner was manipulating her to the point of convincing her to hand over a “blank business cheque” that he without a shred of concern or fear, withdrew and cashed over a million dollars from her employer’s bank account. Not only was she duped by her husband, she was also facing criminal charges with the possibility of jail time – seriously is this worth it?
Fact: The quality of your life depends upon the quality of your significant relationships. Don’t think that’s a fact? – let me refer you to the longest study in the world on human happiness. The study is known as the Harvard Study of Human development and it has been tracking the keys to happiness since 1938 with the former president of the United States John F Kennedy being one of its original recruits.
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Experience: Personally, and anecdotally, I have experienced, heard and seen so many people suffer from years of anxiety, depression and self-esteem so low, that they are almost dragging themselves across the floor, like a raggedy old doll. Personally, I spent at least a decade waking up feeling like the living dead, saying to myself “hang in there just a few more hours, before you can escape by crawling into bed, and hiding from the world again.” Truthfully, the pain is indescribable and its not until you find the inner strength required to admit that there is something not healthy about your life, your marriage or relationship that is the first step towards change.
Case: Just the other day, I was out walking my dog Honey and bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen for a little while. I knew that he was having marriage difficulties for some time. He and his wife were parents of two young children. With a deep pain in his voice he asked me “what’s the worse thing that can happen if I stay”.
Well – I took a breath and said, you tell me?
After a momentary pause he blurted out not only one thing that was bad but at least 10:
- I will probably have an affair
- I will end up resenting her
- I will stay longer at work
- I will be unable to parent the children
- My emotional well-being will be compromised
- I will be faking that I love and care for her
- She might have an affair and even leave me
- The children will feel something is not right and grow up with parents who don’t like each other
- I will probably divorce her in the end
- I will not experience a truly happy, healthy and valuable relationship with a partner that I care and love.
Wow! I said, that’s a lot of ‘worse things’ that can happen if you stay. In fact, the damage that is done by staying in an unhealthy relationship is very difficult to recover from. It can take many many years of therapy and more pain for both yourself and your children and wife.
What’s the worst thing that can happen if you leave today, I asked?
He looked at me wide-eyed and simply said “nothing really”, other than there may be some temporary friction between us, and money is a little tight, but I have a great job and I know we will be okay.
Yes, I understand that and with legal advice and support, you can sort out your money concerns and property.
The children will need to adjust, and I will need to be involved in their lives.
Absolutely, the law is very clear that children must have an ongoing relationship that is meaningful with both parents.
I will have to tell my family and friends, they thought we were so perfect together!
Yes, that can be hard. If your family and friends genuinely want the best for you – then they will support, you and they too will get used to this.
Suddenly a huge smile came across my friend’s face.
It was obvious that he had just experienced a tremendous sense of relief, as if the weight he was carrying had just been dropped.
In that one moment, he realized that staying was far worse than leaving!
As Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology and author of the profoundly wise book “Grit” says “so if you want to know if sticking it out to the better end with your current romantic partner is always the right thing to do, my answer is “Of course not!” In fact, cutting your losses may be exactly the way you should think about a relationship where you don’t share the same values, interests or life goals.“
When should you see a family lawyer?
Although seeing a family lawyer for ‘pre-separation’ advice is not necessarily are bad idea. Unless and until you are ready to make the decision to stay or leave, the advice that you will receive, wont really be very effective because you are just ‘gathering information’ but doing nothing with it. Remember the information that you gather is also only as good as when it is given. If you decide to leave in 2 years’ time, then what you were told in your ‘pre-separation’ session will probably not be relevant and you will need to start all over again.
Are you ready to go? Are you ready to leave your marriage, or has your relationship ended?
Contact us today to find out more information.
The above is general information only. It is not legal advice. We are very accessible, and friendly Sydney Family Lawyers and can provide you with specialist divorce and separation advice and representation on child custody matters, property, divorce, wills and estates, and mediation or going to court.
Contact us Sydney’s best family lawyers today.