Five steps to take following a separation

By Chantel Lawton

1) Consider what is important to you

Your world may have been turned upside down and the plans you had for your future with your spouse suddenly look quite different. Often, couples who are separating have had struggles in their relationship that have been unresolved for some time. Now is the time to breathe and look inward.  Consider your own priorities and needs. Give some thought to what you want your new future to look like.  Or consider what you have learned from this relationship and what you do not want your future to include. What do you need for your future life? Write it down. Think about it. Revise it and write it down again.

2) Get support

Separation is an emotional grieving process. You are grieving the loss of your partner and relationship. You are also grieving the loss of the dreams you had for this family. You do not need to do this alone. Now is the time to reach out to a close friend or family member and lean on them for support. Or reach out to a counsellor who can help support you in sorting out all the emotions you are experiencing. This does not mean you reach out to all your friends and family to bad mouth your former partner or to air all your grievances. What it means is finding yourself a trust support network to help you on your journey. Stay off social media. This is not a place where you should be expressing your feelings about the separation, or your former spouse, or detailing your relationship breakdown.

3) Get informed

Do some research online or in person from reputable resources about separation. Contact a lawyer to get some advice about what the legal process of separating may look like and what you may need to be prepared. Empower yourself with the right information.

4) Decide what you want your divorce or separation story to look like

There are many pathways to separation or divorce. Each path has its own risks and its own rewards. Research each option. Contact professionals that provide services for each of the choices. Ask questions. Always keep in mind what your goals are and where you want to be in the future.  Consider the level of conflict, cost, time, and possible outcomes of each pathway. Is there a combination of options that may work best? What are some of the options? Mediation, collaborative process, traditional negotiation, arbitration, and court.

5) Take the next step

Once you have considered what you want your future to look like, you have educated yourself about separation, and you understand the pathways available, choose a path. Contact a mediator or collaborative professional or a lawyer. Talk to your former partner about which pathway you prefer. Start the journey towards your new future.

For more information or to schedule a consultation please feel free to contact our office at or 705-878-9949 (

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