Thinking of Separation?

Clean Sweep Divorce Coaching

The Difficult Decision of Trial Separation

Married couples sometimes reach an impasse where staying together seems impossible, but fully separating also feels premature. This limbo leads some couples to try a trial separation – living apart for a set period while postponing a decision about divorce.

A trial separation has no legal framework – unlike a legal separation ordered by a court. The informal status means spouses lack legal protections around finances, property, and debts. For example, any assets acquired during the separation are still considered marital property if the couple reconciles. One spouse could secretly incur significant debts that legally impact both spouses.

The financial risks increase if a trial separation drags on indefinitely. Some states require a period of living separately before granting a no-fault divorce. But until divorce papers are filed, all property and debts accrued remain shared. The longer the separation, the more complicated untangling the finances becomes, especially if one partner dies or becomes seriously incapacitated, moves, or otherwise disappears.

A trial separation also freezes the circumstances dictating alimony, child support, and custody. If laws or personal finances change significantly before an eventual divorce, one spouse may benefit over the other in the final settlement. There’s also nothing stopping one spouse from moving to a state with more favorable divorce laws before filing the paperwork.

Emotionally, reconciliation becomes less likely the longer spouses live apart. Time apart diminishes the feelings of loss and longing that often draw couples back together initially. The sense of permanence and closure needed to move on grows.

Ultimately, a trial separation represents a holding pattern – prolonging a decision about the marriage without providing any real resolution. For couples debating a trial separation, it may be worth considering whether to either commit to reconciling, or to make the break definitively through divorce. Lingering in limbo often makes moving forward harder for both spouses in the end.

Separation versus Divorce

Not every state allows legal separation. Some require a period of separation before filing for divorce or dissolving the marriage.

A legal separation is a court order outlining the rights and duties of a married couple living apart. A divorce legally ends the marriage. With legal separation, the spouses are still married but live apart. The court decides:

– Separation maintenance: Spousal and child support, distinguished from post-divorce alimony/child support. Separation maintenance set by the court influences later divorce proceedings.

– Child custody and visitation

– Property division

The temporary order of legal separation can help couples work through issues while living apart. But ultimately, couples either need to reconcile or finalize a permanent divorce. Lingering indefinitely in legal limbo risks complicating the eventual divorce.

Here is a good local reference to the types of separation in New York.

As a divorce coach, my clients often express reservations about divorce, trepidation about separating and anxiety about staying together. I am happy to discuss these feelings with you and devise a strategy to move toward taking control over the situation. Give me a call, or contact me here. I look forward to working with you.

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