When a married couple separates, that means they have chosen to live their lives separately in many aspects but retain their legally married status. They have two types of separation to select from: legal separation and trial separation. The couple’s relationship and the kind of separation determine how they handle the process, and they can choose to live together or have one spouse move out.
In that case, they must discuss how to tackle concerns such as their bills, debt, and property. If they have children, they must also talk about child visitation and support terms. Due to the many aspects of separation, many questions surround it. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. How are Legal Separation and Trial Separation Different?
Legal separation occurs when a couple requests the court to approve their terms for living apart from each other. The spouses can identify these terms, like handling finances, debts, child support and custody, and other responsibilities. Couples often turn to legal separation when they don’t want to end their marriage immediately with divorce, giving them enough time to decide if they will reconcile.
A trial separation is an informal agreement between the spouses to separate and choose whether to work on the relationship. It occurs on the spouses’ terms without going to court. However, they can write a Separation Agreement to solidify decisions about assets, finances, and children.
2. Is It Possible for Separated Spouses to Live Together?
Some couples have chosen to live in the same property while separated to care for their children or because they cannot afford to live on their own. It is often done in the child’s best interest, but it may also bring in other problems if they do not discuss and enforce boundaries. Living apart provides enough breathing room for the two spouses to reflect on their relationship and resolve a high-octane situation.
3. Does Separation Always Result in Divorce?
Typically, separation is an alternative to divorce, but it can also lead to it. Spouses separate for many reasons: infidelity, intimacy issues, abuse, money problems, and lack of communication. Some couples choose separation over divorce due to financial or religious reasons, but they often choose it for the sake of their children.
4. Can Separation Repair a Marriage?
Many couples view separation as going one step closer to permanently dissolving their union. However, spending time apart can also be a good thing, as it gives them the opportunity to think about the relationship and decide if they want to work on it. The separation’s outcome ultimately depends on the couple and their expectations, so if they agree to work on their marriage, they can enjoy a more positive relationship.
5. Can Separated Spouses Date Other People?
It is possible to date while separated and not yet divorced, although it is not recommended. A no-fault divorce is a type of divorce where both spouses agree to it without providing a reason. A fault divorce is when one spouse provides evidence that the other behaved wrongfully, resulting in the marriage’s end. Adultery is grounds for fault divorce, adding complexity to the separation.
6. How Do They Determine Child Support?
The children’s parents must outline child support terms in a Separation Agreement, and the courts will then validate the amount during the proceeding. The primary caregiver can seek a temporary child support order from a judge before a legal separation to support the child’s cost of living until the court arrives at a final decision on permanent child support.
Spousal support is money given by one spouse to the other after separation, often based on need. The terms of spousal support can be detailed in a Separation Agreement, also granted by a judge during a legal separation proceeding. It’s best to work with a divorce lawyer in this case, as this area is often incredibly complicated.
The separation of a couple is often thought to be rough and complex, but it ultimately depends on the nature of the relationship and how the spouses handled it. Now that you know the answers to these frequently asked questions, you can decide if separation is the right course of action to take.
Dreyer and Associates Lawyers, LLP is a team of divorce lawyers with extensive experience in mediation, spousal support, family law, and more. We are committed to preserving the best interests of families across the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.