Divorce is a step many people are uncomfortable with launching into, so some couples who are considering divorce prefer to attempt a trial separation first. If you are one of those people, there are several things you should be aware of before separating.
What is a trial separation?
A trial separation allows a married couple to live separately for a defined period of time while they reassess the viability of their relationship and decide whether to reconcile, seek marital support, or pursue a divorce. It allows breathing space and, for some, can highlight whether they should seek a divorce. Although there is no legal framework surrounding trial separations, it may not be a bad idea to prepare an agreement for doing so. Doing so, or attempting to create an agreement, should be revealing on how viable your marriage is.
For a trial separation to work effectively, the couple must work together to agree on a number of details:
1. Property and finances. One person will naturally need to leave the family home temporarily. It should be agreed where that person will stay and how the extra costs that they incur while away from their family will be covered. It is highly recommended that these details are agreed prior to commencing the trial separation, otherwise, these can become key areas of contention.
2. Child custody and support. Although the trial separation will only run for a defined period, any children involved in the relationship must be addressed and addressed wisely. The parents must agree which of them the children will reside with, the visitation rights of the other parent, and the division of child-related costs. It is essential that the best interests of the children are prioritized and that the trial separation creates as little stress on them as possible.
3. Duration and intent. Clearly, a trial separation will not work if both parties do not agree on the details. You should agree on a specific timeframe for the separation and determine whether they would prefer to reconcile or if this trial separation is designed to allow them to put their affairs in order so that they know they will manage living alone should a divorce be the eventual outcome.
Legal support is highly recommended
An attorney can provide advice and guidance on how to protect the best interests of you and your children for the duration of the trial separation, should you wish to try one. There are a number of potential issues that may arise if one chooses to engage in a trial separation and advice specific to the circumstances of your marriage should be sought.
Benefits and drawbacks of trial separations
A trial separation offers a couple that is experiencing marital difficulties many benefits:
1. It gives them time to reflect. Separating for a defined period can help both partners to assess their needs and desires, to take time for themselves and to appreciate the good things that their partner brings to the relationship.
2. A trial separation may strengthen a relationship and allow a couple that is navigating a rocky patch to reach a point of clarity and reconciliation.
3. Separation can minimize the emotional strain associated with divorce by allowing the couple time to adjust to life without their partner.
There are some potential drawbacks to be aware of, though.
1. There is no guarantee that a trial separation will lead to reconciliation. There is an equal chance that it will cement the decision to divorce.
2. Without proper consideration and legal advice, a trial separation can amplify financial and other concerns and lead to greater disputes.
3. Many couples find it difficult to live apart while still being in a committed relationship. The emotional stress of a trial separation could prove more difficult than a clean break.
4. Custody decisions made at separation may be difficult to undo if a divorce is later filed, as the Court may consider the trial period to have established the “status quo”
5. There are various legal concerns that should be addressed with an attorney prior to a trial separation. If one party decides to file for divorce, one spouse may find themselves at a disadvantage having already separated and established certain patterns.
In conclusion, a trial separation can allow a couple valuable time to reflect on their marriage and to make decisions with a clear head. It is highly recommended that legal advice is sought from a law firm with a focus on family law in Santa Fe (https://kufferlaw.com/santa-fe/) to smooth this process, and at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer, we will help your family to reach a position of clarity and support you through this challenging time.