Divorce or separation – 4 tips for a painless family law process


Your marriage is over. It’s time to uncouple, but you want your kids to be ok and not be harmed by your divorce.

Believe it or not, this is achievable.

The traditional media-driven depiction of separation and divorce is akin to warships exchanging cannon fire across the water. Hollywood movies like Kramer v Kramer, The War of the Roses and Intolerable Cruelty perpetuate this image.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are ways to reduce the stress and costs of the divorce process. 

So let’s look at a 4 step process you should consider to be able to reduce conflict in your life – and your children’s.

The essential ingredients here are Mediation and Collaborative Practice, where everyone works together to avoid court and reach a fair agreement that doesn’t break the bank.

Step 1. A good starting point is to look for a painless way to achieve a litigation-free settlement

In other words, regard court as your last resort option.

One of the problems with a litigation-based approach to separation and divorce is that it can lead to both sides hurling allegations of how terrible the other party is, to try to achieve the best outcome.

Imagine how this will play in the minds of your children? Never forget children are the unseen casualties of bad divorces. Both parties, no matter how they may privately regard the other, have a shared duty to protect their children from the fallout.

Using an impartial family law mediator you, your former partner and your family lawyers can work to find a mutually acceptable middle ground, a process that can save thousands of dollars in fees and costs that court litigation would consume.

Collaborative Law, where the parties resolve not to go to court, is fast becoming recognised as the best way to divorce, in Australia and internationally.

In the Collaborative Law Process, the needs of the family are considered and outcomes are not measured based on someone ‘winning’, but everyone being able to move on post- separation.

There’s no tug of war or mud-slinging – it’s about an outcome which is best for the family.

Step 2. Where everyone accepts this separation process is not about revenge or payback

It’s amazing how many people navigating the divorce process are influenced by the experiences of friends or people they have interacted with on social media groups.

Negotiating a separation and divorce is not a Hollywood movie and it’s not something you use as an excuse to badmouth your ex in court in some complicated payback ritual. So don’t go haunting their social media pages for texts or images to back your prejudices because it won’t win you any fans in the Family Court.

Also, tween and teenage children are very active on social media – think about how they might feel reading that post where you were ‘venting’ to social media.

divorce kids

Step 3. Don’t drag the kids through your divorce

Without doubt this is the most sensitive area of all and in many respects should even be step 1. Don’t make the kids suffer through your separation.

Inevitably children will be impacted by the divorce but the severity of that nature is up to you.  Your kids can experience parents who let their love for their children overcome their hurt or anger, or a childhood where a parent is blinded by grief.

It’s crucial for both parents to show unity in co-parenting, not get into finger-pointing tirades to make the children take sides and above all ensure the children don’t feel any sense of guilt or blame for mum and dad parting ways.

You need to be very careful about badmouthing your ex when talking near your children about their mother or father. This is especially so if the split is due to a relationship with another person.  

While you might be tempted to refer to your ex’s new partner with a name that reflects your feelings for them, ask if that is really going to help your children through a difficult transition in their life.

Step 4. It may not seem a key step at this stage, but get your financial affairs in order before you finalise your divorce

divorce financial advice

Your divorce or separation is about moving on and reclaiming your life so financial awareness is paramount. To achieve this it’s important to get not just family law advice, but financial advice,  before making life changing decisions about your future. 

Your financial adviser can give you a checklist of the key things you need to know and prepare for your divorce and property settlement.

Ultimately the money you realise from your family law settlement will be the foundation for launching your new life so find out your entitlements and responsibilities as early as possible and be sure to update your Will.


divorce settlement

These steps are just the basics on a whole new post-divorce life, but following them and using a consensual dispute resolution process like our family law mediation process, which brings together the best of both Collaborative Law and Mediation, alongside options like Child-inclusive mediation together with the Our Family in Two Homes resource, will make the transition smoother and less painless for the whole family with fixed fees agreed upfront.

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