A trial separation is an informal agreement between two spouses to live apart for a period of time.
Do trial separations work?
Whether or not a trial separation will work depends on the couple and their unique circumstances. For a trial separation to work there needs to be clear intentions, goals, and communication between the parties. For some couples, a trial separation is successful because it allows them to evaluate their relationship, work on themselves individually and then work on their relationship together. The short answer is trial separations can work if the couple uses their time wisely to address issues in the marriage and the future of their relationship.
What is the purpose of a trial separation?
The purpose of a trial separation is to allow the couple to spend some time living apart and agree to evaluate their feelings towards each other and intentions for the relationship moving forward at the end of the trial separation period. The trial separation allows couples to cool off, work out any persisting issues without constantly bickering and decide together the future of the relationship.
When should you have a trial separation?
When a trial separation is right for you and your partner will depend on your relationship and unique circumstances. Before choosing divorce, many couples often take some time apart to evaluate what their lives would be like without each other before moving forward with the decision to pursue a divorce.
How do you survive a trial separation in the same house?
Trial separations commonly occur with the couple remaining in the same house, especially if there are children involved. If you and your spouse decide to proceed with a trial separation but make the decision to remain in the same house, there are a number of good rules that are helpful to follow to make the transition as seamless as possible for all parties;
- Create a timeframe: Both parties should know how long the separation will last before they have to make a decision about the relationship
- Discuss your finances: Is one spouse more dependant on the other financially? Are there children involved?
- Discuss Boundaries: Remaining in the same house during the separation can cause unique boundary issues. It is better to discuss these boundaries early on so the lines do not get blurred.
- Communicate: Just because your relationship may be on a break does not mean the communication must completely stop. If the goal is to resume a healthy relationship post separation, communication is important especially if children are involved.
- Create Structure: Talk about how you will interact with one another in the house during this separation.
- Consider Children: Structure is particularly important where there are children involved. Will you continue to make decisions together?
Some parties prefer for the trial separation to occur outside of the matrimonial home in order to create a new status quo for the children which will be to their advantage for a subsequent separation. Whether your trial separation occurs in the same house or outside of the matrimonial home is a matter for you and your spouse to decide in considering your current circumstances and what would be in the best interests of any children involved.
What are the benefits of a trial separation?
There are several benefits to a trial separation that can sometimes make your relationship stronger. First and foremost, it gives you a period of time apart to work through any negative emotions you have about the marriage or your spouse which can help you see the marriage and any problems from a different viewpoint. Trial separations allow couples to realize what they stand to lose and agree to work together on their relationship. The space that accompanies a trial separation allows couples to approach the situation calmly and make important decisions without arguing. Aside from evaluating the relationship, the time apart often allows the parties to rediscover themselves and who they are outside of a partner or spouse.
Even if the trial separation is ultimately unsuccessful and the couples decides to proceed with a divorce, there are still a number of benefits to a trial separation. During the separation couples may agree on common issues such as expenses, division of property and childcare arrangements. With many of these decisions made during the trial separation, the couple may be able to settle their divorce more quickly and without a trial which will save both parties in legal fees.