Thinking of a trial separation? (2023)

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Encountering difficulties in a relationship can be an incredibly confusing time, especially given the roller coaster of emotions you will experience. If neither of you wants a divorce, separation can be the next step. From casual to cool, here's what you can expect.

When a marriage or civil union is falling apart, it can be difficult to think straight.

Opting for separation rather than going straight to the formality ofdivorce, can give you pause—and clarity—while you consider your next steps.

So what can you do to give yourself the time and space you feel you need?relationshipit needs?

We asked an expertjane robeyofNational Family Mediationfor his advice on separating from his partner…

Why Choose Separation Over Divorce?

"A lot of people don't want to go straight to the legal process to 'formalize' their separation because they're not sure the relationship is over and they want to try and work things out," explains Jane.

“Divorce is a very big and permanent step. Working together to agree to a separation won't always be easy, but it can be a less stressful way to test the waters of a separate life for everyone involved.

“It can also work as a test, where you and your partner see what it's like to live apart. This can sometimes give them space and time to repair their relationship or realize that living apart is better.

Most people start with a separation agreement, says Jane.

'If you do it yourself, draw one inmediation, or using lawyers, forms a record of your shared intentions,' he explains.

"It is not legally binding, but it forms a contract and can be used to agree to the terms of your separation before finalizing your arrangements in a divorce."

You will need to consider some practical things, for example, who will live where; what will happen to himchildrenand finance; How do they maintain things while trying to figure things out?

(Video) Going Through A Trial Separation

What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement will set out the arrangements you want to make for:

  • where your children will live
  • money
  • who will stay in the family home and who will leave
  • contact with children.

“If you are on reasonable terms with your partner, you can either write your own separation agreement or use mediation to help you reach an agreement,” explains Jane.

“Mediation can help both of you in the early stages when you just want to develop a clear plan for a separate life that you can both make work. Mediation can also help you come up with all the agreements and arrangements you will need to think about in order to get a formal, legal separation if divorce is the likely outcome.

"Alternatively, you can use independent legal advice."

Trying to separate, even if it's a trial separation, will likely put a strain on your finances as you'll have additional housing costs and living expenses.

“Some parents try to live separately in their shared home while working on their relationship, but it can still be helpful to have a separation agreement in place as it can help you get your separation date right,” says Jane.

'If you're going to stay in the same house, you'll need to show that you live completely separate with things like sleeping arrangements, cooking and eating together, laundry, etc.

"It can be difficult for a parent to try to keep things 'normal' for the kids when you and your ex live as roommates, but it's possible."

What can separation agreements cover?

“Separation agreements can cover many different areas,” says Jane.

These include:


  • what should happen to the house now and in the future, for example, should it be sold or should one of you (and the children) stay in the house until a future sale
  • what share will each of you receive if the property is sold
  • What happens if one of you dies before a sale?
  • how you will divide up your other assets and possessions now that you no longer live together.


  • loans, credit cards and installment purchase agreements
  • mortgage or rent
  • utility bills such as council taxes, gas, electricity, water, building and contents insurance, television license, etc.
  • property maintenance and repairs
  • school and medical expenses
  • alimony payments to each other.


(Video) Trial Separation or Divorce? Ladies over 40, this is for you. Save Money and Heartache.

  • with whom they will live and how care will be shared
  • where will they live
  • how often will you spend time with the other parent
  • vacation
  • which parent will claim the child benefit and child tax credit
  • how much child support should be paid from one parent to the other.

“It's important to remember that if you decide to divorce, both of you will need to make a full financial statement before a court order is issued to settle your finances,” adds Jane.

“Also, if you are separated, you cannot share alimony. Shared, divided or assigned alimony can only be obtained by court order in the event of divorce.

“If you live together and have never been married, you are not protected by the same laws as married people.

"However, you can still register your wishes for separation through mediation, and while this is not legally binding and may be outside what a court can order, it may better reflect your shared wishes for you and your children if the relationship ends. ".

Read more about what happens to yourCasayfinanceif you get divorced or separated.

What does formal separation mean?

“A formal separation is a legal separation where an attorney draws up an agreement that defines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse,” explains Jane.

It's similar to a divorce, except you remain legally married.

There are also some practical benefits to remaining legally married.

Through separation, you can keep your health insurance benefits, file joint taxes, and keep other marriage-related benefits.

Before going to a lawyer, it is helpful and cheaper if you and your partner discuss and agree on certain things beforehand, as this makes the process go faster.

Easier said than done? If certain issues are difficult to resolve, it may be helpful to resort to mediation together.

The final agreement is a contract, which includes terms that you and your ex must abide by. If they break, they can take you to court for breach of contract,” says Jane.

It can cover anything that is relevant when your relationship ends, including:

(Video) Does Trial Separation Really Work? | Paul Friedman

  • Maintenancefor you/your partner or any children involved
  • How will you divide money, property and possessions
  • With whom should your children live and have contact?
  • Any other conditions you would like to agree to.

What is the process for a legal separation?

  1. You must file a petition for separation using aD8 form.
  2. Send two copies to the nearest divorce court and keep one copy for yourself.
  3. If you are married, you apply for a 'legal separation' and if you are in a civil union, you apply for a 'separation order'.
  4. There is a fee to submit this information.
  5. If you agree on matters of money and property, a legal document called a "consent order" is written that outlines who gets what.
  6. If you do not agree, you must apply for a "financial order", which is a formal agreement made in court.

Who should you tell about your breakup?

In addition to friends and family, you will also need to contact the following to let them know about your separation:

  • housing benefit
  • municipal tax office
  • Child tax credits/benefits
  • Bank/mortgage lender
  • Public Service Providers
  • Phone/TV/Broadband
  • School
  • credit companies
  • insurers
  • Doctor, dentist, health visitor
  • Mail (if you want to redirect your email)

When do you move from separation to divorce?

Chances are, at some point, if you can't make your relationship work, your circumstances will change or you'll move on and consider divorce.

'Can you meet anew escortor need to commute to work. You can then consider the proper legal process for divorce,” says Jane.

“If the court is satisfied that the agreements it has made are fair and meet the needs of everyone, especially children, it is unlikely to reverse its decisions.

"However, you will want to be satisfied that full and candid disclosures have been made and that decisions made are based on complete information."

Mediation can be particularly helpful at this time. This will help you to discuss things, air any concerns and come to an agreement.

“Mediation gives you the opportunity to voice your concerns without them being used later in court, as mediation is confidential. And it will help guide them to come to an agreement, even when it's difficult to talk to each other,” says Jane.

Read our expert advice onhow to divorce.

You can also get more information about thefinancial helpyou have the right as a single parent.

More Information on Separation and Divorce

citizen advice officeoffers separation advice, including details on financial arrangements and housing rights.

DirectGovprovides comprehensive information about legal separation, including help finding legal advice and information aboutlegal assistance..

HeFinancial advisory serviceIt can help you negotiate your finances when facing a breakup.

National Family Mediationcan help you and your partner reach agreement on important issues that satisfy the legal requirements for divorce or separation.

(Video) 4 Reasons To Say No To Trial Separations | Paul Friedman

gingerbreadis a charity that helps with all aspects of separation, including contact with your children and steps to take when a relationship ends.

If you are having trouble with your separation or need advice, you can always speak to our supportive parents at the Netmums Foster Care Clinic below...

Do I need advice?

Our health visitors and children's nurses are online Monday through Friday evenings to answer your questions about nutrition, sleep and children's health.

Ask our experts now

And of course, you'll always find other moms going through what you're going through on our chat forum.

Talk to others about splitting in our chat thread below...

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Thinking of a trial separation? ›

If you're thinking of a trial separation, it may be a good idea to talk to a professional first. A counselor might be able to help you create a plan (before one of you actually moves out) that can help make your trial separation effective. If you've already separated, reach out for help as soon as you can.

Is a trial separation ever a good idea? ›

A trial separation can give you and your partner a chance to respect one another's view of your problems—even if you feel that they're wrong or shouldn't feel the way they do. One thing is almost certain. If you and your partner are not willing to compromise, then the relationship isn't likely to improve.

What to expect during a trial separation? ›

During the separation, you and your spouse will agree on a timeframe in which you will be apart from each other, but you will remain legally married. A trial separation isn't the same as divorce (or legal separation), and it doesn't have any legal impact on your marriage or property rights.

What is the success rate of trial separation? ›

The moment that you start thinking about having a relationship with someone else, then the trial separation and your relationship have failed. A large percentage of people who go through trial separation end up in divorce. Studies suggest that up to 87% of couples end up filing a divorce.

How long should a trial separation last? ›

Ideally, psychologists recommend that a trial separation last no more than three to six months. The longer you spend apart from your spouse, the harder it will be for you to get back together.

How many marriages survive a trial separation? ›

According to U.S. statistics, 87 percent of couples who legally separate eventually get a divorce, while only 13 percent choose to come back together.

Why avoid trial separation? ›

It's not a good way to let someone down gently.

If you're positive you want a divorce, don't use a trial separation as a way to ease your partner into the transition more gently. It'll just prolong their pain, and they may end up doing a lot of hard work for nothing.

What should you not do during separation? ›

Refusing to agree contact arrangements with the children or not attending the family home for agreed contact with the children. Not turning up to pre-arranged Relate or counselling sessions or telling your partner that they are a waste of time before you give the sessions a chance.

Do most trial separations end in divorce? ›

Statistically, 80% of couples who enter a marital separation end up divorcing. And, on average, they remain separated for three years before finalizing their divorce. On the other hand, 10% of those who separate end up reuniting, on average within two years.

How do you communicate during a trial separation? ›

How to Communicate with Spouse During Separation
  1. Establish Boundaries, and Make Them Clear. Start off by discussing your preferred method of communication and how often the two of you will discuss issues. ...
  2. Take Your Time to Respond. ...
  3. Focus on the Issues at Hand. ...
  4. Pay Attention to Your Tone. ...
  5. Mediate.
Jun 29, 2017

Can living apart save a marriage? ›

A separation can strengthen a marriage if it's done for the right reasons and if there are clear agreements from the start. Elements of a successful separation that enhances a relationship include getting third-party support and maintaining regular communication.

How do you know when it's time to separate? ›

The 9 Silent Signs of Separation Checklist
  1. You're Actively Avoiding Your Partner.
  2. They Don't Act Like Your Partner.
  3. You Don't Trust or Respect Your Partner.
  4. You've Tried and Tried and Tried … But Nothing Changes.
  5. You're Worried About What Others Might Think.
  6. You're Staying Together For the Kids.
  7. It's Cheaper to Stay Together.
Apr 11, 2022

Can you come back from a trial separation? ›

Many couples have done it before, and so can you. However, you should be ready to put the past behind you and move on. Getting back together after separation is a decision that cannot be made hasty. Give it time and ample thought while evaluating the situation and the likelihood of a successful second run.

How long do separated couples stay separated before reconciling? ›

Statistical research shows that the average length of separation before reconciliation is six to eight months. Thus, it is a safe period when the spouses can cool off and decide whether they want to give their marriage another chance or get a divorce.

Should you see your spouse during separation? ›

1. Follow the no contact during separation rule. When ignoring your spouse during divorce, the first rule is to make no contact at the initial stage. Communicating with spouse during separation or after filing for divorce can undermine the divorce process.

How do I save my marriage while separated? ›

How to Rebuild Your Marriage During a Separation
  1. Stay in Touch. When you are physically apart from each other, you have no idea how the other is doing. ...
  2. Reflect on Marital Issues. ...
  3. Communicate Your Desire for Reconciliation. ...
  4. Don't Be Needy. ...
  5. Do Not Rush. ...
  6. See a Marriage Counselor – Separately.
Feb 26, 2022

Can you sleep with your husband while separated? ›

Sleeping with Your Soon-to-Be Ex

Under this law, there is no penalty for sleeping with your spouse during the separation, but it can impact your case if you sleep with them within 30 days of your divorce beginning.

What are the benefits of staying married but separated? ›

Legally, couples will be allowed to live separately with two other primary benefits: Separation of finances. Managing the custody and support of any children. Possible retainment health and life insurance benefits.

What does a trial separation look like with kids? ›

Under ideal trial separation circumstances, Gadoua notes couples live separately for at least six months while the kids remain in the house and household finances stay the same. “The idea is just to give spouses a break from each other but to minimize disruption to the rest of the family,” she says.

How do you make the best of a trial separation? ›

Set clear and concise trial separation boundaries and try not to cross them. If you have taken legal recourse, then make sure you have all your separation papers in order. Stay committed to couples therapy, even if you have to go alone. Discuss and plan your financial obligations.

Why separation is better than divorce? ›

A legal separation can be reversed whereas a divorce cannot. If you have young children, you may wish to keep the family together legally for their sake. If you're not 100% sure you want to end your marriage, a legal separation can give you space to figure things out while still protecting you financially.

What is the first thing to do when separating? ›

7 Tips for Starting a Healthy Separation
  1. Treat your co-parent as you would treat a business partner. ...
  2. Don't make any significant changes. ...
  3. Discuss the various options for pathways to an amicable divorce. ...
  4. Choose your family mediator and/or lawyer. ...
  5. See a counselor and/or doctor. ...
  6. Wait to start a new relationship.

What is the 7 separation rule? ›

By studying billions of electronic messages, they worked out that any two strangers are, on average, distanced by precisely 6.6 degrees of separation. In other words, putting fractions to one side, you are linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances to Madonna, the Dalai Lama and the Queen.

How do I prepare myself for separation? ›

How to Prepare For Separation
  1. Inform yourself of your financial situation. ...
  2. Inform yourself of your legal situation. ...
  3. Talk to a family lawyer. ...
  4. Consider talking to a counsellor as well. ...
  5. Get copies of all important documents. ...
  6. Consider the practical arrangements. ...
  7. Consider when you need to talk to your children.
Mar 5, 2021

What is the hardest part of the divorce process? ›

Many people consider the separation phase to be the most difficult. This is the time between when you decide to get divorced and the date you actually get divorced. This period often presents the most uncertainties about child support, visitation, alimony, division of assets, and more.

How many couples reunite after separation? ›

Occasionally and against the odds, some couples are able to reconcile after a period of separation. Statistics based on couples getting back together after a separation show that while 87% of couples finally end their relationship in divorce after a separation, the remaining 13% are able to reconcile post-separation.

What are the disadvantages of separation vs divorce? ›

The Cons of a Legal Separation

Disadvantages of legal separation include: The inability to legally remarry; Extra cost if you later decide to divorce; and. Lack of a no-fault option.

What is the no contact rule during separation? ›

The no-contact rule after a relationship states that two exes should have zero contact with each other after a breakup so that both can cope with the reality of the separation. This means no texts, no phone calls, no interaction on social media, and no in-person contact.

What does a healthy separation look like? ›

Maintaining the sanctity of a healthy separation, treat your spouse like a business partner by answering emails, receiving phone calls and reply to text messages. It is not a time to talk ill of each other. Your aim is to give yourself space to reflect without their influence.

How much time apart is too much? ›

Coan advises every couple to adhere to the 70/30 rule: For the happiest, most harmonious relationship, the pro suggests spending 70% of time together, and 30% apart. That gives each of you enough freedom to explore your own interests while still being rooted and invested in your relationship.

How long can married couple stay apart? ›

Can you be legally separated forever? In most states, yes: You and your spouse may remain legally separated forever, as long as you agree. In some states, courts will put an end date on a legal separation.

What are the 5 stages of separation? ›

The decision to end a relationship is even harder if there are children involved. Over the years, working with client's has informed how I can best help them. I have also noted that client's have shown five distinct emotional stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

What are the 4 stages of separation? ›

The four stages can be labeled denial, conflict, ambivalence, and acceptance. Awareness of these stages will help to understand that adjustment to divorce is a process rather than a single event.

What is the walkaway wife syndrome? ›

What is walkway wife syndrome? Walkaway Wife Syndrome is a term used when wives leave their husbands. It occurs when an unhappy wife suddenly divorces her spouse without warning, which opens up a lot of questions.

Is sleeping with someone else while separated cheating? ›

It is not adultery if you have already separated

If you engage in a sexual relationship with someone while you are still legally married, it is technically adultery even if you and your former partner do not live together anymore and are no longer emotionally or physically in a relationship.

How do you tell if your spouse has given up? ›

Here are seven signs from experts that a Carmel family law attorney believes mean a marriage might be over.
  1. Lack of Sexual Intimacy. ...
  2. Frequently Feeling Angry with Your Spouse. ...
  3. Dreading Spending Alone-Time Together. ...
  4. Lack of Respect. ...
  5. Lack of Trust. ...
  6. Disliking Your Spouse. ...
  7. Visions of the Future Do Not Include Your Spouse.
Dec 9, 2019

Can you date if you're separated? ›

Yes, you can date someone else after you separate from your spouse. There is nothing illegal or wrong about dating while married and waiting for your divorce as long as you are living separate and apart.

How do I know if my separated wife wants to reconcile? ›

Signs your wife wants to reconcile is when she asks your friends about you. Separation can make us feel awkward, so she might not want to text or message too often. She still cares, though, and gets updates about you through your friends and family.

Can a trial separation save a marriage? ›

If a temporary separation is done in the right way and for the right reasons, and there are clear agreements, it can help couples gain perspective on their relationship and actually strengthen it.

What should a husband not do when separated? ›

Things You Should Not Do During Legal Separation
  1. Do Not Move Out of Your Family Home. ...
  2. Do Not Rush into a New Relationship. ...
  3. Do Not Deny Your Partner the Right to Co-Parenting. ...
  4. Do Not Involve Your Family Members and Friends in Your Separation Process. ...
  5. Do Not Sign Any Documents Without the Consent of Your Lawyer.

Should I date during trial separation? ›

Agree to abstain from dating if you are trying to reconcile.

If you're uncertain about whether you're headed for divorce or are trying out a trial separation, most professionals advise against dating someone else. In most of these cases, dating outside of the couple renders reconciliation impossible.

What are alternatives to separation in a marriage? ›

  • Separation. One option for unhappy couples who wish to sever ties is to, well, not get divorced. ...
  • Conscious uncoupling. ...
  • Mediation. ...
  • Annulment. ...
  • Conclusion. ...
  • Learn more from MassMutual…
Mar 30, 2023

How do you save a marriage when only one is trying? ›

How to Save a Marriage When Only One Person is Trying
  1. See a Marriage Counselor. A marriage counselor is a professional who can help sort out any issues in your marriage. ...
  2. Know Your Reasons. Why do you want to save your marriage? ...
  3. Work on Yourself. ...
  4. Empathize With Your Spouse. ...
  5. Communicate But Don't Be Needy.
May 2, 2022

What are the disadvantages of being separated? ›

The Cons of a Legal Separation

Disadvantages of legal separation include: The inability to legally remarry; Extra cost if you later decide to divorce; and. Lack of a no-fault option.

How should I behave during separation? ›

Coping With Separation And Divorce
  1. Recognize that it's OK to have different feelings. ...
  2. Give yourself a break. ...
  3. Don't go through this alone. ...
  4. Take care of yourself emotionally and physically. ...
  5. Avoid power struggles and arguments with your spouse or former spouse. ...
  6. Take time to explore your interests. ...
  7. Think positively.

Is it better to separate or stay together? ›

While some divorces are necessary, many marriages can be repaired. It may be difficult to face the issues that you and your spouse are struggling with, but research suggests that couples who can manage to stay together usually end up happier down the road than couples who divorce.

Is it wrong to date while separated? ›

Once your separation agreement is in place you are legally OK to date but we generally recommend against it. When you do start dating, take it slow. All details of your relationship may be scrutinized by a judge. Your new partner may be depositioned to talk about it.


1. How Often Does a Trial Separation Work | Paul Friedman
(The Marriage Foundation)
2. Do Trial Separations Work? The TRUTH Exposed.
(Entrepreneurs in Cars)
3. What are the Benefits of Separation | Dr. David Hawkins
(Dr. David Hawkins)
4. Thinking of Divorce? Consider a Trial Separation First
5. Your Partner Wants a Trial Separation - What Does This Really Mean | Paul Friedman
(The Marriage Foundation)
6. How to Ask for a Trial Separation
(ExpertVillage Leaf Group)
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