You’ve Broken Up with the Mother or Father of Your Child… What Should You Do?

Re-engage with your rational brain

Breakups are often difficult and messy, and the breakdown of a long-term relationship is one of the most challenging events we experience in our lives.  Because of this, the emotional part of your brain will likely be engaged and in control, resulting in knee-jerk reactions and decisions you probably will regret when you are calmer.  Slow things down.  Breathe.  Take some time to quiet your emotional mind and put your rational mind back in the driver’s seat.  Your child is relying on you to do this.

Be mindful

Can’t stand the sight of your ex and need to vent to someone about it?  Tell your friend.  Tell your parents.  Tell your therapist.  Work out your emotions in the gym.  Do not make derogatory statements to your ex, and above all else, do not tell your child what a horrible person their other parent is.  Not only does it make the situation worse and unfairly puts your child in the middle of your own issues with your ex, but everything you say and do could one day be reported back to a judge in court.

There is no such thing as a “legal separation”

If you don’t want to be in a relationship with the other person anymore, then you are separated, even if you continue to live under the same roof together.  If you are married, then you will need to take the extra step of filling out some paperwork to get divorced, but anyone is separated from their spouse, regardless of whether you are a common-law or a married couple, as soon as one of you communicates to the other person that the relationship is over.

Speak to a professional

There are many professionals who can be an invaluable source of advice and emotional support in this difficult time. Parenting coordinators are family lawyers and mental health professionals who help separated couples by acting as a neutral decision-maker on parenting issues.  Divorce coaches (trained mental health professionals) can also assist with giving you advice on how to effectively communicate with your ex and navigate the emotional turmoil of the breakup.  All of these professionals can also help you work out a parenting schedule.

Speak to a lawyer

Many people think that once you involve lawyers in your breakup, then the situation becomes ugly and litigious. The truth is, the legal consequences of a relationship breakdown are very nuanced and complicated, even more so if you have a child together.  Additionally, many family law lawyers are aware of the emotional difficulties in their area of practice, and because of this they will tend to encourage an amicable settlement.  Many lawyers also offer free consultations.  It is important to speak to a lawyer – in fact, it is a good idea to consult with several different family lawyers to find one you are comfortable with – to know your rights, responsibilities and entitlement.

You may never want to see your ex again for as long as you live, but that is simply not going to happen as long as you have a child together who depends on and needs the two of you. Regardless of whether you feel as though your life is spinning out of control, or whether you think you are handling the breakup well, you should seek out the many professional resources available to help see you through to the other side and enable you to move on with your life.

 

Jennifer Lin exclusively practises family law, representing numerous clients on matters of spousal support. Visit Jennifer’s profile page to contact her.

Tags: Jennifer M. Lin, Family Law, Spousal Support, Article