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7 things you should do during a trial separation

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You are potentially moving toward divorce, but you and your spouse have agreed to try a trial separation first. You want some time apart before you go through the entire legal process. You want to see how it impacts the relationship and what it's really like to be on your own.

You're not entirely sold. You think you should just get divorced, make it a clean break, and move on. You feel like the separation is just stretching things out. However, it means a lot to your spouse, who is pleading with you to do it.

A separation isn't for everyone. If you do decide to move forward with it, though, make sure you do these seven things:

  1. Set up a timeframe in advance. It helps to make sure you're both on the same page. It can get complicated if your spouse thinks you're taking a two-week break, for instance, but you think it's an indefinite break.
  2. Talk about money. Living apart brings up new financial challenges. Be sure you're ready for them.
  3. Talk about intimacy and the nature of your relationship. Again, be sure you both have the same expectations. Experts warn against simply turning your marriage into an on-again, off-again relationship without clearly defined lines.
  4. Figure out what boundaries you both have. For instance, are you allowed to date other people while you're separated, or are you supposed to refrain from dating until you've decided to get an official divorce?
  5. Consider counseling. You may not learn as much on your own as you would with a weekly meeting with a therapist and your spouse. This can be hard, but it can help the two of you decide on the best course of action moving forward.
  6. Remember your own core values and beliefs. Do they factor into your issues as a couple or your desire for a divorce? Stay true to who you are. Do not compromise on those issues just because your spouse wants you to.
  7. Remember your legal rights. A separation is not a divorce, but you have many of the same questions to consider. You may want to think about using an official separation agreement to protect yourself and your assets. The agreement can define your roles, rights and obligations at this time, and you may then decide to use it as the basis for your divorce agreement if you do officially call off the marriage.

Every situation is different, so these tips may not encompass all that you need to think about in your case. However, they can absolutely help get you started. No matter how you decide to proceed from here on out, be sure you do it with a full understanding of your legal rights and the options you have.

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