Separation and Divorce


You’ve decided to separate and divorce

Now What?


The divorce rates for people 50 years and older has risen by 50% in the last 20 years. And of the top 10 cities in terms of divorce rate, the state of Florida has four of them.


Making the decision to take a breather from a relationship is never easy. But often it’s the best choice you have.


You hope the separation will give you time to think through your options, and all the ramifications of divorce before taking the final step.


At first you might want distance from


  • The fights and constant bickering

  • The hurt and anger

  • The disrespect and distrust

  • Feeling uncomfortable in your own home

  • Anticipating when the other shoe will drop

  • Expectations


You might be hoping that a separation will give resentments and bitterness time to heal. Maybe you want some validation for what you’ve been through. Perhaps you believe that separating will give you some perspective.


What I advise couples and individuals to do at this point is to:


Step One:


Seek out legal information as to what you can do without putting yourself in financial jeopardy. If your relationship is “We are just not in love.” You might see the same attorney. If not, get separate legal advice to know what you are getting into.


Step Two:


Think long and hard about all the potential consequences of making this request. Your partner may perceive this as rejection ... and a sign that divorce is inevitable. This is not true. I have worked with many people who avoided divorce through a system I call structured separation.



Just two simple steps, before you alter your life forever.



A major study by Linda Waite at the University of Chicago found that in so-called unhappy marriages, almost 8 out of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married five years later.


But time and distance alone may not make the difference you seek. It won’t do you any good to stew about your wounded pride, or the hurtful betrayal.


There are healthy and productive ways to step back, re-assess, re-clarify what was important to begin with, realign with more current needs, and rededicate to making the relationship work as a couple.


Separations can be a time on working on:


1. letting go of the past without pressure, remembering the good times and rediscovering that you really want to work things out.


2. It provides an important “cooling off period” allowing you to more objectively assess the strengths and weakness of a relationship.


3. Time apart may help you remember your partner’s better qualities, the qualities that made you fall in love.


4. The separation can also give you a clearer perspective on manipulation, codependency, etc. that have created the dissolution of your relationship.



Obstacles to Helpful Separation


1. No clearly defined boundaries because it is neither marriage or divorce.


2. Jealousy and suspicion about what each of you is doing.


3. Whether dating other people is something you can agree on.


4. Fear about how dating will impact on the possibility of reconciliation.


If separation is where you are with your partner and relationship, I’d like to help negotiate this tricky time.





Sometimes, the betrayals just can’t be overcome. Falling out of love is not reversible even if there is no third party. Unfortunately, when it is over, it is over.


Juan and Yvette have been married 15 year and unhappily married for five. Yvette, like so many other divorcing women, has grown progressively disillusioned with the lack of intimate connection or communication between herself and Juan. On numerous occasions she has pleaded with Juan to go to counseling with her but he has always refused, insisting that they could work things out themselves.


So Yvette has been in individual therapy for two years and has finally decided that there is nothing left in the marriage. She has told Juan and he was thunderstruck. He doesn’t want the divorce and now pleads with her to try marriage counseling. But now she feels it is too late.


Breaking up with a person you have loved and lived with is devastating. Splitting up a family or a household is rife with conflict, and the furthering of bad feelings.


Getting agreement on who gets what and who is responsible for what can drain your energy, deplete your confidence, or heighten anger and anxiety like no other life experience besides a terminal illness.


As difficult as splitting up is, there are ways to do it amicably. This is a lofty goal and not often achieved without some professional help.


Those who have achieved I -- including myself and others I have coached – have followed this advice:


1. Deal with the emotional aspect of the breakup above all else.


2. Aim to see the positive side of dealing with lawyers and courts.


3. Focus on dividing assets so both of you can establish new lives and new environments. Revenge is not sweet.


4. Deal with how family life needs to be organized when children are involved.


Whether you are just beginning down this road, or have been there a while, there can be ways to make the process easier on you emotionally and practically.


Find out how a relationship expert can

help you through your separation or divorce.

Call today for an appointment with


Roberta Gallagher, LCSW, LMFT

305 - 775 - 5101


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