Separation

Separation

A separation has far reaching consequences on a family’s future. It is usually the first step to divorce. A couple must be officially separated for two years before they can file for divorce. No consent is needed after this period. Apart from the emotional turmoil, there is a lot to be reorganised and negotiated: Who’s going to stay in the family home? How do we split the household? Who will get child custody? Where do the children live? Does the other partner get visiting rights? How much child maintenance is possible? Will the spouse be entitled to alimony?

During the official period of separation, the couple usually retains joint custody of the children. Child custody is negotiated during the divorce proceedings. If the partners cannot reach an agreement, one of them can appeal to the district court to initiate procedures. In this case, it is important to get legal representation. The court will decide on the terms of the separation. The procedure is simple and usually does not take long. The court will fix the legal expenses and determine who is liable to cover them. If the partners are unable to pay for the legal procedures, they can apply for a waiver. The court will review the couple’s financial situation. If the waiver is authorised, the state will cover the legal expenses as well as the lawyer’s fees.

Apart from all legal and financial questions, one's whole life must be reorganised. Women especially often find themselves without income and need to find a new or better paying job. Suddenly, they must reconcile work and family life without a partner. (See also the chapters «Reconciling Work and Family Life» and «Family Diversity»). But above all, many people feel guilty and lonely after the separation. Sometimes, they are full of regret. It is not always easy to see the positive sides of living on your own, especially if there are children. A therapist would help in case of depression or guilt feelings. There are also counselling services for families, children and adolescents, where parents or children can go for support. In most municipalities, these services are free of charge. For adults, there are many training courses, self-help books and groups or clubs for single parents.

The Familienwegweiser Pro Familia also informs about separation: www.profamilia.ch

 

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