How do you Prepare to Separate?

Dec 16, 2019   ·   6 minute read
Worried young woman sitting on sofa at home and ignoring her partner who is sitting next to her

It comes as a surprise to some people but we are regularly asked the question ‘how do I prepare to separate?’ It’s good that we’re asked, because the earlier you speak to a divorce solicitor about a planned separation the more they can help you reach an informed decision about whether or not to separate and assist you in making your separation as painless as possible.

Where to Start with Planning a Separation

The obvious place to start if you are thinking about a separation is to talk to your partner but although that seems the sensible thing to do it isn’t always the best approach because:

  • You may want to take legal advice before speaking to your partner as the advice on the potential child custody and financial settlement options may affect either your decision to separate or the timing of your separation;
  • Talking to a counsellor about your relationship difficulties may help you decide what you want to do and whether you want to suggest couple counselling or a trial separation to your partner. Alternatively counselling may confirm your decision that you want to separate or start divorce proceedings;
  • If your partner is abusive, has a history of hiding assets, or you are worried that if you tell your partner that you plan to leave that they may take the children or destroy sentimental precious possessions then in any of those situations talking to your partner about the separation may not be the best approach.

If you do decide to speak to your partner about a separation, then it may not come as a complete surprise to them. However, sometimes a partner has no idea about what their husband or wife is planning so they need time to accept your decision before being able to have a constructive discussion with you about the practicalities of your separation.

Talking to the Children About Your Planned Separation

Knowing when and how best to talk to the children about a planned separation is always a tough decision. Some parents think it is best not to tell the children about a planned separation until they really need to know, for example, if the house goes on the market or until divorce proceedings are started. However, waiting to talk to the children can be more unsettling to the children as they make pick up on the atmosphere in the family home or hear things from grandparents or friends but be too embarrassed or worried to talk to you about the separation.


In an ideal world, both parents should sit down together to talk to children about a separation. Don’t worry that you don’t know all the answers to questions about precise custody and contact arrangements or your future plans.


Practical Steps When Separating

Separating from a partner is very emotional but it can help to focus on practicalities such as:

  • The temporary living arrangements – a Manchester divorce solicitor will advise you that you should not leave the family home without first taking legal advice about whether that is the best option in your personal and financial circumstances. You could, for example, ask your partner to leave or potentially may have the grounds to start injunction proceedings if they won’t leave voluntarily. If your separation is amicable then it may be possible for you to continue to live together at the family home until you reach a long term financial settlement but whether you are both staying at the family home or one of you is moving into rented accommodation or staying with family, you will need to reach an agreement on temporary financial matters and payment of bills and child support. You should not finalise any decisions about short term or long term financial arrangements until you have taken legal advice;
  • The parenting arrangements – the parenting arrangements for your children will very much depend on whether you are continuing to live together at the family home until you reach decisions about what should happen to the house. Sorting out the long term arrangements for the children may not be practical until you know one another’s housing plans and whether, for example, it will be feasible for mid-week contact to take place;
  • The financial paperwork – A Manchester divorce solicitor will tell you that you can’t reach an informed financial settlement with your partner until you both know your up-to-date financial situation. That may involve finding out things like the value of the family home, the amount of the outgoings on the family home, the amount you have in savings or the value of the family business or pension. If you have a financial advisor or accountant they may have some of this information, such as an investment portfolio document or draft family business accounts.

Understand Your Separation Options

Prior to taking the decision to separate it helps to know what your separation options are and the ways in which you can reach an agreement over custody and parenting arrangements and your financial settlement.

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When it comes to separation your options are broadly:

  • A trial separation ;
  • A permanent separation. If neither one of you wants to start divorce proceedings you may want to record any agreement reached about the family home , other property and financial support in a separation agreement;
  • Starting divorce proceedings. Within divorce proceedings a court can be asked to make a financial court order to record the terms of any agreed financial settlement or, if you can’t reach agreement, the court can decide how your assets and property should be divided and make a financial court order.


It is often assumed that if you go ahead with a separation that you and your partner will end up in court proceedings over custody of the children, who gets the family home or whether you will get a share of your spouse’s pension. However, experienced Manchester divorce solicitors say that you don’t have to end up in court. It is often possible to reach an agreement over the basis for the divorce proceedings, the custody and contact arrangements for the children and the financial settlement through taking legal advice and getting your solicitor to negotiate a parenting plan and financial settlement or advising you about your legal options during family mediation.


Taking advice on your separation can give you some of the information you need to make an informed and supported decision on whether or not to separate and how to best plan for your future.


Whitefield based Evolve Family Law solicitors offer pragmatic expert divorce, children and financial settlement solutions. Contact our expert lawyers today and let us help you.