Time To Consider A Trial Separation To Save Your Marriage?

Published: 27th July 2009
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A trial separation may allow the partner who wants the divorce to experience some of the feelings of being separated without making a final decision to divorce. The main benefit of a trial separation, of course, is that it's easily reversible. You can try it for a while, go through therapy, and after that reconcile, or else you can try separation for a while, decide you like it - and therefore proceed with divorce.

There are two ways you and your spouse can separate: Either with an informal separation or by a formal officially authorized separation.

An informal separation is basically whatever the two of you decide it to be. Typically, one of you stays in the residence you had previously shared, and the other moves into some other quarters. At this stage you normally wouldn't make any formal property division, but you would come to an agreement, informally, on some kind of working agreement about possession of things like cars, the bank accounts, the credit cards, and the stereo.

A formal legal separation is more lasting, more complicated, and more expensive. It's also much less common. It's nearly as expensive as a divorce - sometimes more so, because it's less unusual - so you may have to pay your lawyer to figure out how to do everything. And often people who get a formal legal separation wind up having to go through all the pain, time, and expense again later to get an actual divorce.

So why, I hear you ask, would anyone go through a formal legal separation? Maybe for the reason that some states require that a couple seeking a divorce have been separated for some space of time. Also, some couples need to remain officially married, perhaps so one can continue to be insured for medical or other purposes by the other's company. Official legal separation makes this possible.

Occasionally, there is no question that the pair is moving in the direction of divorce, but know it will take some time to work everything out. If their incomes are substantially diverse, it may be worth approving on a written separation agreement; that way the person paying any maintenance can deduct it on his or her tax return. The paying spouse might be able to reimburse the receiving spouse more than enough to pay the tax on the alimony, and still come out ahead. Sometimes one of the spouses has a religious objection to divorce. A formal separation will allow the spouses to remain officially married even as they live separate lives.

Outside that, there may not be much of a reason to go through the time, torture, and expense of a formal legal separation. Better perhaps to agree to reach a working arrangement for an informal separation. You can then follow it up directly with either reconciliation or divorce.

So, can separation save a marriage - that is the question. A number of people emphatically resist separation, thus adding even more stress into an already tense marriage. Perhaps separation may be the best option for some marriages, despite the threatening shadow of divorce, as living together is clearly is not working. However, can you make it work from a distance? A trial separation will go a long way in helping you decide the answer.

Why? Because couples who separate tend to find that without the constant day by day conflict and squabbling the lack of proximity to their spouse provides time to think, and solve problems. Marital problems are often hard to resolve as they often get hindered by egos, fear and stubbornness. Resolution can flourish as long as at least one partner is willing to keep trying; if the urge to always be right and not back down remains then it probably means that the separation will end in divorce.

It is therefore strongly recommended that you at least give trial separation a try. If only for the sake of trying to save your marriage.

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