You and your partner have not been getting along, and you have an inkling that the relationship needs to end. Before you pursue divorce, however, you might want to take an in-between step and formally separate for some time. This works well for many couples. Separating can help you clear your head and get a better idea of what you want out of life. It can also help you prepare mentally for the upcoming divorce.
As you separate, keep these guidelines in mind to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and is also a productive step for you.
1. Be courteous to your partner.
Just because you are separating does not mean you should no longer respect your partner and treat them courteously, especially when it comes to legal, financial, and housing-related aspects of the separation. When they call you or text you with questions about meetings or bills, answer promptly—don't keep them waiting. When making decisions as to who lives where, try to be fair and understanding. This kind behavior serves two purposes. First, it shows your partner that you are going to be cooperative, which may make them less contentious if and when you do pursue a divorce. Second, it will reduce the number of blow-out arguments you have, which will help keep your own emotions stable at this trying time.
2. Watch your spending.
Now is not the time to spend thousands of dollars on a new car or load your credit card up with clothing purchases. Doing so will only give your partner more to hold against you in the divorce, and it will complicate matters when it comes time to divide your assets. You may need to decide who will pay what when you are separated, but beyond this, try not to make any huge changes to your finances just yet. For example, this is not the time to demand your partner get a second job as you stop paying their car bill.
3. Talk to the kids.
If you have children, they will want to know what is going on. They'll be curious why their parents are spending so much time apart or perhaps living in different residences. Don't leave the kids in the dark—this just makes them worried and anxious. The best approach here is usually to be honest. Tell your kids that you still love them, but the two of you have decided it's better to live separately. If your goal is truly divorce, do not mislead the kids into thinking you'll get back together. Understand that they will be upset, and listen to them when they want to talk about their own frustrations regarding the situation.
4. Start visiting a therapist.
Separation can be very hard on you, even if it is what you want. A good way to keep your head on straight is to start seeing a counselor—sooner, rather than later. This way, when you do reach the divorce stage, you will already have an established relationship with a therapist and can rely on them to give you tactics to help you through.
5. Have a formal separation agreement made up.
Visit a family lawyer at a law firm like New Direction Family Law and have a formal separation agreement drawn up. This agreement will specify who lives where, who pays for what, and where the kids spend their time when you are apart. This document protects the both of you in case your partner decides to stop paying the bills, refuses to move out, and so forth. Most lawyers offer separation agreement services at a reasonable price and can draw one up in a single meeting.
Hello, I'm Christina Miller. Have you ever been fascinated with why the law works the way it does? Ever since I was in junior high, I had an intense interest in anything related to our legal system, whether it be a crime drama on television, a judge show or a legal case covered on the news. I followed it all. As time progressed, I began learning about how the actual legal system worked and not just the fictionalized version of our legal system. This has lead me to start writing my own blog posts about law that I hope will help others.