Stages of Separation

What are the different Stages of Separation 

Separation is one of the hardest things you will ever experience.

Deciding to separate is a major step, no matter how long you have been considering it, or how much your relationship has deteriorated.

Getting help and practical information will help you cope.

You may feel the worst you have ever felt in your life.

If you have separated, you can expect to go through the stages of grief. You may grieve as you are losing an important part of your life.

You could experience any or all of these different stages of grieving:

  • shock and denial that the separation is really happening;
  • anger and blaming your former partner or another person;
  • tearfulness, sadness and depression;
  • acceptance and moving forward – accepting and adjusting to your new life.

Remember your former partner may also be experiencing some or all of these stages of grief.
If you can talk to trusted friends or family members, they may be able to help you recognize and work through your feelings.

You may need professional help to assist you and your children cope better with the changes separation inevitably brings.

How couples experience Separation Grief differently



Separation affects everyone in different ways. Your former partner is likely to move through the stages of separation at a different pace to you and feel different things, in different ways, at different times.

An example might be that you may accept the separation and that the relationship is over, while your former partner may still be feeling angry and think there is hope that you may change your mind and want to save the relationship.

Despite you both going through the stages of separation at different times, you can still talk to your former partner about issues such as:

  • the arrangements you need to make for your children;
  • the home you’ve lived in together;
  • money; and
  • other financial matters.

You will also need to remember that you both being at different stages of moving forward may affect your ability to negotiate with your former partner.

What you need to think about

Once you have separated, you and your former partner will need to make some important decisions quite quickly about practical issues to do with your children, your finances, your debts and your assets.

You might not be able to agree on all these things when you separate, but it might help if you can reach a temporary agreement.

Both Lifeline and Family Relationship Centres offer assistance, usually without any charge at all. It is a good idea to phone them or visit their website to investigate what might be available and of assistance to you.

It is also a really good idea to get legal advice.

Separation – More Information

A useful starting point after separation is our information sheet Separation: What you need to know & where to get free help.

Having lists of things you need to do and can easily follow can be very helpful. See the following checklists:

You should also read our information sheet How does Separation & Relationship Breakdown affect my Will, family after your death, Superannuation & Life Insurance.

If you own houses, buildings or land with your former partner then you can ead how that is affected in our information sheet How does Separation & Relationship Breakdown affect Jointly Owned Property.

You need to make sure you know what time limits might apply to you which are explained in our information sheet Separation Time Limits after Relationship Breakdown.


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