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Even the healthiest relationships are sometimes destined to fail, the termination of which can be overwhelming and exhausting. Ending relationships that are dysfunctional in any way tends to be exponentially more complex and traumatic for those involved, including children. Circumstances such as abuse, addiction and mental illness contribute to such a level of toxicity, however, that continuing the relationship would be more detrimental to the well-being of you and your child than severing it. Furthermore, there are some steps you can take in order to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.
Settle Living Arrangements
Once you've decided to end your relationship, you will need to consider how your living situation will change. If your boyfriend will agree to leave the home, you must be sure that you can financially maintain it on your own. If he refuses, you may decide that the most peaceful option is for you to leave. If he has been abusive, or if you fear he may become abusive upon separation, psychologist Dr. Joyce Carroll of the PathLight Center in Brentwood, Tenn., suggests contact with a local battered women's agency for help.
Consider Child Custody and Visitation
As much as you may be able to separate from your child's father, he can still maintain his right to a relationship with your son. Consult with a lawyer regarding child custody laws in your state. If you and your son's father are unable to negotiate a visitation arrangement, a judge may order one. If you think your son may be in danger of neglect or abuse if alone with his father, you may request that visits be supervised by a third party.
Prepare for Some Contact Regarding the Child
Although there will inevitably continue to be some contact with your son's father regarding the child, you can minimize it as much as possible. Custody exchanges can be facilitated by a friend or family member. Information that is pertinent to your son's well-being, such as that related to your son's medical needs or education, can be shared via text or e-mail. These channels of communication not only maintain a distance, but can also be saved. Should you need to present evidence of your concerns at court, this documentation may be useful.
Ending your relationship is likely to be emotionally, physically and financially draining. Healing from this trauma requires a network of healthy, positive and supportive friends and family members, according to a Psych Central article titled "You Deplete Me: 10 Steps to End a Toxic Relationship." It can also be beneficial to see a counselor or therapist, as well as to extend your routine of self-care to ensure you are receiving adequate rest, exercise, nutrition and medical care.
Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.
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