By Steve Blizard 8 September 2016
The Australian Bureau of Statistics collates data on marriage and divorce every calendar year, drawing on information provided by courts and registry offices.
For a majority of couples today, a de facto relationship is often the pathway to marriage.
However, for those who never marry, research shows that the chance of separating can be more than seven times higher.
Peak Separation Time
In Australia, separation peaks just after Christmas time and often it’s the summer getaway that has pushed a couple to breaking point, says relationship expert Dr Nikki Goldstein.
“If you are using a vacation to mend a relationship more so than often the relationship is already in the red zone,” Dr Goldstein said.
The stress of Christmas and going on holiday will intensify any cracks already in the marriage, she added.
There’s the stress of packing, organising what happens to the kids and the family pet, plus the additional financial pressures.
“Your holidays are not always easy, when you put more stress on a situation that’s already volatile it might just crack,” Dr Goldstein said.
Family Lawyers are often at their busiest early in the New Year because couples tend to bottle-up everything in during a year and by the time January arrives they just “snap”.
Don’t just hang in there, get help now, advises Dr Goldstein.
Impact on Kids and family pets
More than 40,000 Australian children are affected by divorce each year.
Family law specialist Caroline Counsel says that the more peaceful the divorce process, the better kids fare.
While children are impacted by separation, Pets Behaving Badly animal behaviourist Kate Mornement said that even pets suffer during relationship breakdowns.
“I do see quite a few cases of pets with behaviour problems following separation or divorce… most commonly separation anxiety in dogs,” she said in an ABC interview.
“Any big disruption to their normal routine or breaking of attachment bonds affects them a lot.”
Robyne Glegg, from English Pointer Rescue Australia, said the group often re-homed dogs as a result of divorce or separation.
Where children are involved, divorce should always be an end of the road option, before all other options are well exhausted.
Sadly, as we experienced in my family, there can be still events that arise that make divorce unavoidable.
My family story
Personally, it has been incredibly difficult to write about this topic, because I detest divorce.
To explain why, on turning 18, my parents finally “called it quits” on their dysfunctional marriage.
On the face of it the divorce of my parents made total sense to their three sons.
From early childhood, my mother suffered from clinical depression, impacting my younger brothers and I well into our teenage years.
After school or on weekends, we ended up at our grandparents or with other family members, while mum was hospitalised.
Even when home, things would drag her down, so she was bed-ridden.
So after two decades of this up and down existence, my father finally called time.
Mum left our family home, leaving dad to raise us the best he could.
The break-up was hard on my father.
I recall my brothers and I being packed into the Kingswood station wagon and driven to Broome via Marble Bar, just to help him get his head around things.
Thirty years later, in getting to know many of the ice addicts at the Shalom House residential Rehabilitation Centre, located in Perth’s Swan Valley, it became clear that when your family is destroyed (“nuked”) through divorce, there can be immense emotional damage done to the children.
Christmas is never the same.
In some cases teenagers impacted by divorce become addicted to either drugs or alcohol.
My connection to Shalom House helped me realise that I too had been emotionally impacted by my parents divorce, and this eventually launched me on a personal healing journey with my parents.
Minimising the financial damage
In the event that our clients make the final decision to “call it a day”, then the financial impact begins.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) recently released two financial management resources for those undergoing divorce or separation.
According to ASIC Deputy Chairman, Peter Kell, these publications offer guidance on making informed financial decisions at the time of a relationship breakdown; separating finances and getting money on track after separation and divorce and commencing the property settlement process by providing a summary of assets and debts.
“A relationship breakdown changes many aspects of a person’s life, including their finances,” Mr Kell said.
“This can leave people feeling stressed and overwhelmed and make it difficult to focus on financial decisions.”
He said the new resources could help sort out money issues and guide people through the financial uncertainty they may be facing when a relationship ended, by providing practical steps to separate finances.
He said ASIC’s resource website was accompanied with a video featuring a psychologist and director of the Institute of Family Studies, Anne Hollonds, who explains how the divorce and separation financial checklist can assist in navigating finances when a relationship had ended.
These resources can be accessed at ASIC’s Moneysmart website.
Divorce and Separation Financial Checklist link:
Asset Stocktake Calculator link: