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The nature of the separation: Who ended the relationship and was there a third party?

The nature of the separation: Who ended the relationship and was there a third party?

The nature of a separation was seen as a “crucial factor” in predicting and understanding the character of ongoing parenting relationships between former partners. A number of professionals discussed the impact of third-party involvement in the demise of a relationship; that is, where one party has been left for another person. The prevalent feeling among professionals was that when this occurs it often:

creates a level of anger and hostility … [which] is very difficult at that point in time. (Mediator, RA)

Another related factor seen to trigger conflict between former partners was the degree to which both parties had come to accept the ending of their relationship and which party ultimately decided to end the relationship, or which party “called the shots”. Some professionals suggested that these different roles (that of the “leaver” and the “left”) meant that the parties were at different stages of grieving and acceptance of their separation and divorce, and at times this led to different emotional responses from the parties.

One mediator elaborated on this point.

Early on … particularly if one person has chosen the separation, they’ve often thought about … how it might play out, but the other person is still dealing with that separation that they didn’t want … [They may also have] a real sense of loss and a sense of injustice: “This has been done to me in some way and I didn’t want it and therefore I am not going to be ripped off any further … so now I am going to fight for my rights and I want a fair go.” (Mediator, FMC)

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