How to cope when you're getting a divorce

Perhaps you were the instigator, after years of thought. Or your partner announced it, out of the blue. Maybe you decided together that things just weren’t working. The fact is, you’re now separated or divorced and there are a huge number of emotional and practical issues to deal with.

Are you OK?
Many people compare the end of a significant relationship with grieving for a lost friend or relative. You can experience strong feelings like fear, sadness, resentfulness, anger, confusion and bitterness to name just a few.

Be mindful of both your mental health and physical wellbeing. It can be tempting to turn to food, smoking, alcohol, gambling, drugs, or promiscuous behaviour but none of these things bring long-term relief. Only time will help you heal, but with the help of friends or even a counsellor, this is possible.

Being practical
Ending a relationship that’s lasted a decade or more involves many practical issues. The first two key ones to address are where you plan to live, and what assets/income you’ll have to live on.

According to Amy McGinn, Post Separation Services Manager of Relationships Australia, after separa-tion or divorce, many people need to learn how to handle their own finances for the first time. “It’s best to get independent financial advice; perhaps from a financial advisor. Relationships Australia offers property mediation to help couples split assets, and individual counselling to assist people with things like budgeting which can actually be quite empowering.”

Being positive
Whilst separation and divorce can be incredibly painful and challenging, Ms McGinn suggests you’ve got some new opportunities. “It’s the chance to make choices for yourself, rather than choices for a whole family. You can make new friends that don’t need to know your separation story; they just know you,” she says.

You can start new hobbies without worrying about what your ex-partner thinks. You can try volunteering or work on your bucket list.

If you need help, the following organisations offer information and/or assistance: