Separation Checklist

You are not alone

  • One of the most common things people say to us is how surprised they are that there are so many others going through the same thing. Sadly, its a fact.
  • There is much to be said for sharing constructive time talking to people in the same situation.
  • It does not help if everyone around you says or implies that there is no hope and it’s all bad because, generally speaking its not true. Sometimes this can happen in groups that are activism focussed and you need to be aware how such ‘negativity’ can subtly impact your state of mind and prevent you from finding positive / proactive solutions that are available to you.
  • Reach out to us and come meet others in the same boat – you’ll be surprised how much they can help you, and you them.

There is hope

  • The great thing about sitting in a room with some of us old timers who’ve been through it before is that we know where you are, how you feel and even how best to make your way through the challenges.
  • Fact is, positive outcomes really do occur all the time – if you know how to focus and you follow through and do the right things.
  • Thats how we help; we help you put your situation into perspective and assist you to focus on the best way through the challenges that you are facing.
  • With us, there’s always hope. Come say hello.
  • Each year we get hundreds of messages from grateful mums and dads who have managed to turn around their situations with our help, and we’ll help you too.

False allegations are not unusual

  • Its sad that we have to say it but, yes, false allegations occur a lot when it comes to family separation.
  • In every high conflict family situation, legal or otherwise, there are three sides to the story – yours, theirs and the truth. Point being, if everyone always told the truth, there’d be no disagreement over the facts and no conflict. Add into that equation an adversarial family law system and you easily start to see how things that are not true get claimed in an effort to get ahead.
  • In our experience, both mums and dads can make false allegations against the other parent in equal measure so that they can gain the upper hand, and you can read one retiring family court judges views on the matter here.
  • If you’re on the receiving end of such allegations, particularly extreme ones, its hard to understand how that happens and to worry about the shame of them being shared with others. This is normal but you can’t let it stop you from doing what is right for yourself and for your children.
  • Know such allegations for what they are, which is strategic manoeuvring to gain legal control and little more. They are an attempt to derail the trajectory of and to delay the legal case and ensure short term legal dominance.
  • The good news is that in the long term, false allegations usually do not work – family court outcomes suggest that most such allegations are eventually overturned.
  • The secret is not to make it worse in the meantime by overreacting; that means lashing out against yourself or the other party and it also means not walking away.
  • Dealing with false allegations can be a little like sinking in quick sand; the more you struggle, the worse it can get. Stay calm, reach out to us and we’ll help you work you way through the challenge one step at a time.
  • If you’re worried what others might think, send them over to here to read these notes so that they can be better informed. Its really quite common so you’re far from alone.

Managing your expectations, your emotions and your actions

  • Managing your expectations is key to surviving the hardest times. If each time something bad happens, your expectation is that it will immediately be corrected, then there is a good chance that you’ll be disappointed.
  • The world in general and certainly something as complex as family breakdown and family law does not work fast and its not always easy to see the logic of the decisions made when you’re in a highly emotive state.
  • The legal wheels move slowly but thats no reason to give up hope, rather it’s a very good reason and opportunity to start working on a medium to long term strategy versus expecting quick fixes. Quick fixes happen but they are rare.
  • Its normal to feel angry if you’ve been wronged but use that in a constructive way, not in a destructive way that makes you spiral down. Our helpline operators and groups are great at helping you do this.
  • A common and easy exercise is to list off all your challenges under the headings of (1) things I can control, (2) things I can influence and (3) things I have no control over. When you’ve done that, work on the items in (1), work on developing your approach to the items in (2) and think of not wasting time, energy and emotion on items in list (3). Set realistic expectations and timescales, and you’re a long way towards managing your situation in the best way.
  • Lastly, it really helps to keep fit, to eat well, get out and to get into or keep at your normal daily routine; think about the time you get up, eat, go to bed, how and when you work. All these things in a daily routine help keep you sane and healthy and ensure that you’re the same parent that your kids remember when they get back with you again.
  • Of course, all the above is the kind of thing we can help you with so drop us a line and/or attend a group.

Start keeping a daily diary

  • These situations can sometimes take a long time to resolve and its easy to lose track of what is happening, why, when, how and who was involved. The sooner you start to do this the easier it is to get your facts straight when you might be asked about what has happened.
  • Use a diary with a full ‘day to a page’ format and get used to writing a quick update each day, even if only to report that nothing happened that day – it might be key to show this in a court case.
  • If anything happens, stay calm but write it down for later consideration. Think what happened, who was involved, time, location, witnesses, what the lead up to it was and what happened at the end. All of this will help you later.

Best Interests of the Child

  • If your situation involves children in a family legal case then it is critical to understand that the court will make a decision concerning their care based primarily on the 1975 Family Law Act, Section 60CC.
  • You can find the primary definition in law by clicking here, and a useful overview by clicking here.
  • A general rule of thumb is that every communication with or submission / application to the courts should take these factors into account. Any other factor is largely irrelevant.
  • If you are making an application to the court, responding to an application or writing affidavits or parenting order proposals, you should also structure them around the best interests factors to ensure that the court see that you are acting in accordance with expectations as a good parent or other guardian.

Other considerations based on case experience

  • Ensure that all your online accounts are safe; if necessary change passwords and set up dual authentication login on email, bank and social media accounts to ensure you are not ‘hacked’.
  • If you no longer live where you did, ensure all major accounts that have your address know that you’ve moved; consider redirecting your mail to prevent a former partner accessing important and private accounts.
  • Consider securing key documents that belong to you, such as birth certificate, insurance policies, passport, shares, agreements etc.
  • Ensure that joint accounts cannot be drawn down, emptied or extended (e.g. mortgage) without your knowledge / approval. This happens more commonly than most realise and usually means both parties are equally liable for payment.
  • If you are struggling to move forward in your legal case, or to afford the costs, consider self representation – its less scary or complex than most think and you’ll soon get the hang of it with help from us and others.
  • Generally speaking, you’d be advised to go easy on legal letters; they rarely improve matters, do not magically make anything happen (only a court can do that) and can quickly deplete you of what funds you do have.
  • Understand that the police dal with criminal not civil matters; your case is classed as civil so its pointless getting frustrated at them for not enforcing ‘your rights’. The police are one of many official agencies that you might find yourself interacting with; whilst there are always exceptions with all humans, generally speaking, they do a difficult job well.  Don’t make their job unnecessarily difficult if you’re interacting with them. It only means your record with them, possibly presented in family court, makes your case that much more difficult later on.
  • As a general rule, if you’re issued an intervention order and you are absolutely not guilty of the allegations that led to it being issued, you would be ill advised to accept it – it will affect any family court case despite what others (even officials) might say. If the allegations are false, the issuing authority will usually need to prove their case in court so they might be tempted to ‘advise’ you to accept it without admissions to get it across the line. If you are guilty of the allegations, then accept responsibility and change your future to make it a positive one.
  • If you are unable to have mutually amiable/acceptable interaction with the other parent, you’d be well advised to stick to written communication. Email is good as it can easily be stored, sorted and printed if a court requires it.
  • Let children’s school(s) know the situation and provide them a copy of any court orders that apply. Ensure there is good open two way communication with the school and ensure that both parents are listed as contacts for correspondence.
  • Never bad mouth the other parent or question the children about their time with the other. As tempting as it might be, it puts the child in a difficult position and increases their stress at a time you should be doing all you ca to reduce it. Kids grow up making their opinion about how their parents behaved – don’t be the one they ultimately look as the one that made things difficult for them. And if the other parent does it, the kids will usually see and understand that, later if not now.
  • Make their time with you great! Even the shortest time with your kids, as long as it’s positive and they walk away with good memories, is preferable to lots of time thats negative. Kids eventually grow up and make their own decisions; your focus really needs to be on providing them the safest most positive time you can regardless of the circumstances. You cannot change how the other parent behaves but you can control what you do, so ignore the other parent and create great memories for your kids when they are with you.