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When a marriage faces significant challenges, separation is usually a viable option for each spouse to gain perspective on their current state and critically think of the way forward. It is relatively different from divorce, even if you signed a Separation Agreement. Separation does not end a marriage, but affects how you perform various marital duties and responsibilities.

Separation in marriage often gives spouses the space and time needed to reflect on the marriage. It helps them think clearly about each person's expectations and desires and the adjustments that need to be made. In addition, it assists you and your spouse process feelings of:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment
  • Conflict

Once you consider separation, you must understand what it means, the types available, and the rules regarding its success. Let us discuss these topics in detail.

What is Marriage Separation?

A Marriage separation occurs when a legally married couple decides to live separate lives. Separation in marriage is usually an initial step toward divorce, although research on marriages and separations shows some couples resolve their challenges after working through them.

When given a choice between divorce vs. legal separation, other couples choose separation due to the financial benefits, tax exemption, and negative religious beliefs that divorce carries. Separation in marriage can be done informally or formally with a formal Separation Agreement drafted and filed with the court.

Notably, marriage and separation laws differ from state to state. For example, New Jersey only has legal Separation Agreements for partners in a Civil Union. Maryland and West Virginia, on the other hand, use the term “limited divorce” for agreements that operate similarly to legal separation.

Types of Marriage Separation

Whether you need space to determine if your marriage can still work or have already decided you want a divorce, it is essential to know that the type of separation you choose impacts matters such as legal rights and finances. Ensure you select the option that meets your current needs and will minimize further conflict with your spouse. The following are the three types of marriage separation:

Trial Separation

Sometimes spouses need time to think through their current relational challenges and where they stand. The time out could be each spouse living separately without changing much of the marital responsibilities or asset sharing. A trial separation helps with this relatively mild separation need.

Although a trial separation is often done informally, it is advisable to have a written Separation Agreement during this period. Issues you can address in the agreement include:

  • Who stays in the family home
  • How each spouse will spend time with the kids
  • How will you handle expenses
  • What to do with joint credit cards and bank accounts

If the trial separation does not help to save the marriage, this agreement can assist in drafting the permanent Separation Agreement.

Permanent Separation

When one or both spouses wants to separate with no intention of reconciling, the separation is considered permanent. In most states, living separately with no desire to work things out legally changes elements such as property rights.

Permanent separation means that each spouse is solely responsible for the debts they accrue and owns the assets they acquire. Determining the date when the permanent separation in marriage occurred is essential. Any debt or money your spouse gains is still considered shareable if you do not agree.

Most permanent separation laws state that if you spend the night with your spouse, weeks or months after separation, the day after the re-union is often considered the first day of separation.

Legal separation occurs when spouses agree to make their separation official. This agreement means your status changes from married to separated in the Family Courts system. Legal separation is typically treated as divorce in deciding matters such as:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Property division

Legal separation helps spouses retain retirement and health insurance benefits that would not be possible after divorce. Notably, you cannot remarry with a separated status. Some states such as Florida, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Pennsylvania do not recognize legal separation. You will need to investigate the options available that are similar to legal separation in marriage, but without getting a divorce.

Rules for Separations in Marriage

Often, separation is misunderstood when it lacks rules on how it should be carried out. Separation in marriage can come with additional conflicts if clear guidelines are not laid down and followed. The following are the main rules and objectives that need to be addressed for your separation to be a success:

  • Living arrangement: Discussing which spouse needs to move out, when they should do it, and if you can visit each other will make the transition easier.
  • Child custody: You need to agree on who gets the children (if there are any) and what visitation looks like. Keeping in mind the best interest of the child as opposed to either spouse's feelings will ease the already difficult process.
  • Money and assets: Discuss which assets are shareable and which belong to either spouse. In addition, agree on how to handle any joint financial ventures and who should pay for the current expenses given the changed living situation.
  • Communication: How often will you contact one another, and which method is best. If direct contact may cause more conflict, look for a third party to deliver crucial information.
  • Dating other people: Do you and your spouse want to see other people while separated? What extent of relations can you have with them? As difficult as it may be, having a clear picture of each other's expectations will minimize conflict and address underlying concerns.
  • Informing people: Discuss who you would like to share the separation news with and what to tell them to avoid giving conflicting information.

Whether you opt for trial separation or plan to make it official with the courts, these rules will make the entire process bearable and beneficial for you and your spouse.

Using the right Separation Agreement document ensures you cover the important details and helps you avoid extreme legal battles. A template can be useful in these cases to make sure nothing is missing.


Start your Separation Agreement

When a marriage faces significant challenges, separation is usually a viable option for each spouse to gain perspective on their current state and critically think of the way forward. It is relatively different from divorce, even if you signed a Separation Agreement. Separation does not end a marriage, but affects how you perform various marital duties and responsibilities.

Separation in marriage often gives spouses the space and time needed to reflect on the marriage. It helps them think clearly about each person's expectations and desires and the adjustments that need to be made. In addition, it assists you and your spouse process feelings of:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment
  • Conflict

Once you consider separation, you must understand what it means, the types available, and the rules regarding its success. Let us discuss these topics in detail.

What is Marriage Separation?

A Marriage separation occurs when a legally married couple decides to live separate lives. Separation in marriage is usually an initial step toward divorce, although research on marriages and separations shows some couples resolve their challenges after working through them.

When given a choice between divorce vs. legal separation, other couples choose separation due to the financial benefits, tax exemption, and negative religious beliefs that divorce carries. Separation in marriage can be done informally or formally with a formal Separation Agreement drafted and filed with the court.

Notably, marriage and separation laws differ from state to state. For example, New Jersey only has legal Separation Agreements for partners in a Civil Union. Maryland and West Virginia, on the other hand, use the term “limited divorce” for agreements that operate similarly to legal separation.

Types of Marriage Separation

Whether you need space to determine if your marriage can still work or have already decided you want a divorce, it is essential to know that the type of separation you choose impacts matters such as legal rights and finances. Ensure you select the option that meets your current needs and will minimize further conflict with your spouse. The following are the three types of marriage separation:

Trial Separation

Sometimes spouses need time to think through their current relational challenges and where they stand. The time out could be each spouse living separately without changing much of the marital responsibilities or asset sharing. A trial separation helps with this relatively mild separation need.

Although a trial separation is often done informally, it is advisable to have a written Separation Agreement during this period. Issues you can address in the agreement include:

  • Who stays in the family home
  • How each spouse will spend time with the kids
  • How will you handle expenses
  • What to do with joint credit cards and bank accounts

If the trial separation does not help to save the marriage, this agreement can assist in drafting the permanent Separation Agreement.

Permanent Separation

When one or both spouses wants to separate with no intention of reconciling, the separation is considered permanent. In most states, living separately with no desire to work things out legally changes elements such as property rights.

Permanent separation means that each spouse is solely responsible for the debts they accrue and owns the assets they acquire. Determining the date when the permanent separation in marriage occurred is essential. Any debt or money your spouse gains is still considered shareable if you do not agree.

Most permanent separation laws state that if you spend the night with your spouse, weeks or months after separation, the day after the re-union is often considered the first day of separation.

Legal separation occurs when spouses agree to make their separation official. This agreement means your status changes from married to separated in the Family Courts system. Legal separation is typically treated as divorce in deciding matters such as:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Property division

Legal separation helps spouses retain retirement and health insurance benefits that would not be possible after divorce. Notably, you cannot remarry with a separated status. Some states such as Florida, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Pennsylvania do not recognize legal separation. You will need to investigate the options available that are similar to legal separation in marriage, but without getting a divorce.

Rules for Separations in Marriage

Often, separation is misunderstood when it lacks rules on how it should be carried out. Separation in marriage can come with additional conflicts if clear guidelines are not laid down and followed. The following are the main rules and objectives that need to be addressed for your separation to be a success:

  • Living arrangement: Discussing which spouse needs to move out, when they should do it, and if you can visit each other will make the transition easier.
  • Child custody: You need to agree on who gets the children (if there are any) and what visitation looks like. Keeping in mind the best interest of the child as opposed to either spouse's feelings will ease the already difficult process.
  • Money and assets: Discuss which assets are shareable and which belong to either spouse. In addition, agree on how to handle any joint financial ventures and who should pay for the current expenses given the changed living situation.
  • Communication: How often will you contact one another, and which method is best. If direct contact may cause more conflict, look for a third party to deliver crucial information.
  • Dating other people: Do you and your spouse want to see other people while separated? What extent of relations can you have with them? As difficult as it may be, having a clear picture of each other's expectations will minimize conflict and address underlying concerns.
  • Informing people: Discuss who you would like to share the separation news with and what to tell them to avoid giving conflicting information.

Whether you opt for trial separation or plan to make it official with the courts, these rules will make the entire process bearable and beneficial for you and your spouse.

Using the right Separation Agreement document ensures you cover the important details and helps you avoid extreme legal battles. A template can be useful in these cases to make sure nothing is missing.


Start your Separation Agreement