Should I Consider a Trial Separation?

A trial separation can go one of two ways: It can give a couple the space and time apart they need to realize that they truly do want to save their marriage. Or, it can cement the fact that a divorce is inevitable. If you’re considering a trial separation, it’s important to fully understand the implications before separating.

What is a trial separation exactly? It’s where a couple decides to take a break from each other by living separate and apart. During this time, most spouses will evaluate their marriages and whether they want to save their marriage or file for divorce.

Creating a Physical Distance

Generally, the aim of a trial separation is to create a physical distance between the spouses. Usually, one spouse will move in with a family member, a friend, into a hotel, or they’ll rent their own apartment. If the couple can’t afford the extra housing costs, they may agree that they are separated, but instead of moving into another home, one spouse will move out of the couple’s bedroom.

With most trial separations, the couple doesn’t enter into a formal legal agreement regarding child custodychild supportspousal support, asset, and debt division. A trial separation is supposed to be temporary, but if it drags on, the couple should highly consider a formal legal separation until they decide on the fate of their marriage.

Pros and Cons of a Trial Separation

There are both pros and cons to trial separations. One of the main pros is they can help the couple realize what’s best for the marriage while they’re calm and not in the middle of bitter conflict. If a couple eventually decides to make their trial separation permanent, they can work out agreements over child custody and finances during the separation period, and later incorporate what’s already working into a divorce agreement.

One of the biggest negatives has to do with child custody. For example, if you and your spouse have two kids and a house in San Diego, but you decide to move by yourself to Texas to live with your brother and you don’t have a temporary child custody order in place, your spouse could seek primary custody of your children and argue that you abandoned your children by moving to Texas.

Another issue is debt acquired during the trial separation. If your spouse goes out and acquires an auto loan, or charges up the credit cards, you could be equally liable for your spouse’s new debts. In contrast, if you filed a legal separation, new debts acquired after the date of separation by your spouse would be his or hers alone.

Next: Don’t Let Social Media Derail Your Divorce!

Trying to decide between a trial separation, a legal separation, or a divorce? Contact our San Diego divorce firm to request a free case evaluation.