We often meet with potential clients who are currently living in a “trial” separation. During a trial separation, the couple lives apart although they have not filed for divorce or a decree of separate maintenance and support (known as a “legal” separation). Some couples separate at the advice of a counselor while others separate at their own discretion. The parties can take time to end bickering, evaluate feelings, and determine the issues between them before making the final decision to seek a legal separation or divorce. The decision to try a trial separation is informal, but agreeing on some ground rules can, not only ensure that the trial separation is most effective, but also help protect your legal interests if you choose to seek a divorce. Consider the following:
- Go to couples counseling. A counselor can identify underlying conflict and resolutions. You may want to each engage in individual counseling as well.
- Set goals. Consider what it would take for you to reconcile and work towards those goals. However, you will need to be flexible and ensure your goals are mutual.
- Establish boundaries. Contemplate an end date for the separation period. Determine frequency and types of communication. How often will you call or text one another? Can you stop by unannounced? Set boundaries friendships and relationships with those of the opposite gender. Many times a third party can “comfort” or “listen,” but end a relationship altogether because your trust is broken.
- Make an effort. Engage in activities that will allow you to take care of yourself. Do the homework from your counselor. Be honest with your partner about your needs.
- Stay reasonable and positive. Your partner will not change overnight, and neither will you. Each of you will need to determine what constitutes progress or your breaking point. Yet, the separation cannot work if you do not stay positive. Mutual optimism is the only path to stay connected with your partner.
- Seek legal advice. Potential clients often wonder how their rights are being affected should they choose to forego their trial separation and pursue legal separation or divorce.
Again, while we wish you all the success in a trial separation, your circumstances can affect a legal separation or divorce. If you are considering a trial separation or a legal separation from your spouse, please contact the experienced attorneys at Hyde Law Firm, P.A., 864-804-6330. They are prepared to counsel you and protect your interests.