Separation is different from a divorce. Separation means that you and your spouse are not living together, but you’re still legally married. Basically, the marriage is still valid until you get a legal judgment of divorce. However, a marriage separation does affect the financial responsibilities between you and your spouse before the divorce is final. There are three different types of separation. Although only legal separation changes your legal status, all three of them can affect your legal rights. They include trial separation, permanent separation, and legal separation.
Types of Marriage Separation
The following are the three prominent types of marriage separation.
#1. Trial Separation:
If you and your spouse need a break from the relationship, you may choose to live apart. This is until you decide between divorce or reconciliation. While you’re separated, the same legal rules apply as when you are married. For example, the money you earn and the property you buy are likely to still be considered jointly owned by you and your spouse.
If you and your spouse are hoping to reconcile, it’s a good idea to write an informal agreement about some issues that will surely come up. Plus, if you have kids, you’ll need to decide how and when each of you will spend time with them. However, if you both decide there’s no going back, your trial separation turns into a permanent one.
#2. Permanent Separation:
When you live apart from your spouse without intending to reconcile, but you are not divorced, you are considered permanently separated. If you don’t intend to get back together, then assets and debts acquired during the separation belong only to the spouse who acquires them. Once you are permanently separated, you are no longer responsible for any debts your spouse incurs. Similarly, you’re no longer entitled to any share of your spouse’s property or income. If your spouse received a big bonus at work during that month, who it belongs to is also arguable.
#3. Legal Separation:
You can get legal separation by filing a request in a family court. Being legally separated is a different legal status from being divorced or being married. It’s kind of in-between. You are no longer married, but you’re not divorced, either. But you can’t marry someone else. In a legal separation, the court’s order granting the legal separation includes property division, alimony, and child custody and support, just as a divorce would.
People choose legal separation instead of divorce because of religious beliefs and a desire to keep the family together legally for the sake of children. Some people live very happily in a state of legal separation for many years. This is because they get to live separately but enjoy the benefits of marriage.
Rules for Marriage Separation
This depends on your State. The different states have different separation rules. However, getting an attorney will help you figure out the right one to follow. This will sort out things like; how often you contact each other or if you should get into another relationship without calling it cheating. Changing the locks on the door, so your partner doesn’t have access to the house, or how often you get to spend time with the kids.
Marriage Separation Agreements
This is a legally binding document between two spouses. This document describes the allocation or sharing of properties, assets, and parenting duties (in the case of kids). For this to be drawn up, each spouse will have to be open and honest about their financial status. Lack of honesty, in this case, can go a long way to damage the kids. That is to say, it will/may affect sharing of parenting duties. The agreement is handwritten and signed by both spouses in the presence of a witness.
Advice on Marriage Separation
It is best to think ahead and have a defined plan. If the separation leads to a divorce, how do you plan on coping?
If you decide to get back together, what was the issue that caused the separation in the first place?
These are questions you need to have answers to. It will make everything a bit easier. Not having a definite plan makes the bad situation get worse. For example, if you decide to get back together without tackling what caused the separation, chances are, it may likely happen again.
During this period, it’s best to avoid getting into relationships. Going for relationship therapy could also help. This way, you get to understand yourself and your partner.
Marriage Separation Process
It is important to know the duration of separation. The day you decide to separate should be marked as important.
#1. Get an attorney
The first thing to do if you’re going for a separation is to get an attorney. Each state or country has different separation arrangements. Your attorney will put you through the one that is adopted by your State.
#2. Have a plan
The next thing to do is to make a decision. Between you and your spouse, who gets to move out? Who has custody of the kids, and who will come visit? This part can be really dicey; both spouses may want to involve court judgment on child custody. Also, the custodial parent may apply to the court for child support. Spousal support can still come in handy.
#3. Legal separation
Getting a legal separation authenticates sharing of property and assets. Without a legal separation, you may still be affected by your partner’s incurred debts or damages in the long run. The attorney will guide you through the applicable arrangements adopted by your State. Then a separation agreement is signed in the presence of a witness. The document is not improved but is rather binding. So you must be sure before signing.
Usually, separations lead to divorce. But if you and your partner think things through, you could work out the issues in your marriage.
Does separation help or hurt a marriage?
If it is done for the appropriate reasons and if there are clear agreements established from the beginning, a separation can really help to enhance a marriage. Receiving support from a third party and keeping up with frequent communication are two essential components of a healthy separation that can actually strengthen a relationship.
How long should a husband and wife stay separated?
In circumstances in which children are involved, the time frame should ideally be between three and six months so that a sense of urgency and sincerity may be maintained. The longer the separation lasts, as people get used to their new routine, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to readjust to their previous way of life.
Is it better to divorce or separate?
If you are confident that you want to end your marriage and do not see any financial value in obtaining a legal separation, it may be in your best interest to proceed directly to the divorce process. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up wasting time and money on obtaining a legal separation, only to have to start the procedure all over again when the time comes to obtain a divorce.
Marriage Separation FAQs
What should you not do during separation?
The following are some of the things you should not do during a marriage separation;
- Keep it a secret.
- Leave the house at all costs.
- Pay no more than your fair share.
- Don’t rush into a rekindled romance.
- Don’t put off what needs to be done.
How long should a marriage separation last?
You and your husband should agree on the length of your marriage separation. A trial separation should last no longer than three to six months, according to psychologists. The longer you are apart from your spouse, the more difficult it will be to reconcile.
What does a separation in a marriage mean?
Marriage Separation, in law, is the mutual decision of a husband and wife to stop living together. A legal separation does not terminate the marital contract; rather, it modifies the couple’s obligations under it to accommodate their choice to live separately. Separation, however, is frequently a precursor to divorce in practice.
Is separation good for a marriage?
Separation can be beneficial to a marriage depending on the couple’s circumstances. It can be a fantastic approach to address individual difficulties before reconnecting if both partners are ready to work through current challenges. With that stated, around 80% of separations end in divorce.