Separation, Does It Mean
My Marriage Is Over?
No, separation does not necessarily mean your
is over and that you now you must proceed with
filing for divorce,
even though that is a common misconception.
What is it?
Separation is the disunion of a couple because of relationship breakdown that includes a physical division of the individuals with one party leaving the matrimonial home or moving to a different living space (i.e. a basement apartment) within the matrimonial home.
Do I need a lawyer?
Most people cannot wait until their divorce has worked its way through the court system to deal with big issues such as selling the family home, who gets the vehicles, who pays what bills etc. A Separation Agreement can establish guidelines for child support,
and child access as well as the division of assets and debts. If you live in Canada, the US, the UK or Australia, Law Depot offers Do-It-yourself forms that will allow you to create your own agreement without exhorbitant legal fees.
Estrangement in a marriage generally takes on one of three forms:
pre-divorce, trial or mediated.
Pre-divorce is just as it sounds. One or both parties involved have no desire to repair or
the relationship. When one party moves out, leaves to live with someone else or makes their plans to get a divorce known, a time of dissolution prior to a finalized divorce naturally results.
Writting up an agreement, in this case, is important for many reasons. It offers both parties protection with regards to legal and financial issues. It establishes a date of disunion that will be of use when
filing for divorce.
Working guidelines for support, child custody, child access and division of assets and debts can be established.
While it may seem there is no hope in a pre-divorce split, there is always
with God. The hurt, pain, shame or anger may be so intense initially, that one or both parties cannot see any way of
However, when given some breathing room and a break from the constant stress to “make it work” a fresh perspective may arise allowing the parties to deal with and work out the issues that divided them in the first place. Ongoing
during this time for the
of hurts and wisdom on how to proceed is essential.
A trial break follows the same principles as a pre-divorce, establishing the grounds for the division of possessions and debts as well as support and issues regarding the children. Again, an agreement can be used to outline those conditions.
The difference between trial and pre-divorce separation is, with a trial break, the intent is to see if both parties still want to be married or not, while with pre-divorce, the decision has been clearly made by one or both parties.
Sometimes during a trial parting, the individuals involved realize how much they miss being together and are able to get the
and help they need to repair their
The time out from the stresses in the relationship provides a better opportunity to work through issues both individually and as a couple.
Trial separations are not uncommon in the case of adultery where
divorce in the Bible is permitted
for the victim of adultery. This is a big, life altering decision that cannot be made quickly. The hurt and pain can be so deep that time is needed to
and to begin to think clearly. Many who are victims of adultery can barely look at their spouse, let alone live in the same house with them, because it hurts so much. Time, and the third option, a mediated split is often needed for the victim to get their bearings again and decide if they want to salvage the marriage.
The third option is a mediated break. This method has had some success at
marriages. Unlike the other two types, it sets out to
save your marriage
instead of end it and it involves a non-biased third party who acts as a mediator.
This cooling off period would naturally consist of the parties living in different locations during the specified period of separation. Issues regarding finances, children, confidentiality (who is told, who is not), time spent together outside of
(dating each other), intimacy and anything else deemed necessary is included in a written agreement. This agreement of separation is overseen and mediated by someone outside the marriage like a
While it is safe to say, mediating marriage issues and family problems has been something that those in pastoral ministry have been doing for a long time, it is fast becoming something encouraged in the secular world as well, because of the success it is seeing.
In 2005, Hilary Stout wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal called "A Time Out for Troubled Marriages: Therapists Push ’Controlled Separation’". In her article, Stout discusses the growing interest in mediating couples in an effort to
save the marriage
or at the very least, slow down their leap to
filing for divorce.
Stout mentions a book by Lee Raffel Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage which has been instrumental at promoting the concept. Her book includes a sample contract and she shares stories of couples she has served as a mediator for in the past. Her book can be a helpful guide for you and your estranged spouse as well as the person who is serving as your mediator.
Are You Separated?
Are you working to restore your marriage? What steps, if any are you taking to work things out? Share what is on your heart.
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