GPs have a role in supporting patients undergoing separation and divorce and their children to prevent the potential negative effects on physical and mental health.
National Australian data suggest that more than 50,000 families a year are involved in the formal processes of separation and divorce. It is likely that many more less-formal partnerships, including de facto relationships, same-sex marriages and other nontraditional partnerships, end in separation each year. Separation and divorce can break the networks of human connectedness centred around the family and challenge the concept of ‘for better, for worse’. Some relationships change by mutual agreement, with perhaps acceptance, sadness and agreed, negotiated disengagement. For many, however, the process is complex, bitter, prolonged and damaging.