Understanding Separation vs. Divorce: Make the Smart Choice

Understanding Separation vs. Divorce
  • Legal Status: After a divorce, your marriage has been legally ended, and both parties are free to remarry. In contrast, separation does not legally end a marriage. Therefore, even though you and your spouse live separately, you are still legally married.

  • Resolution of Matters: In a separation, property division, child custody, and spousal support can be negotiated and formalized in a separation agreement. In a divorce, a court can decide these issues, but parties can also negotiate and resolve these matters outside of court.

  • Religious and Personal Beliefs: Some people may choose separation over divorce due to religious beliefs or personal reasons. In such cases, a comprehensive separation agreement can protect each party’s rights and interests.

  • Financial Implications: The financial implications of separation and divorce can vary greatly depending on the couple’s circumstances. It’s essential to consult with a legal expert or financial advisor to understand the potential financial consequences of each.

Spouses can be having issues in their marriages and not choose to end it yet for good reasons. You can opt for a trial separation if you still want to stay married to each other. This type of separation is a voluntary one and does not require any court filings. However, if the trial separation is to go on for more than two months, spouses can decide to agree on the terms. 

This includes the timeframe, handling of the finances, child support and custody, and other important items.

When partners are burned out on each other, constantly “setting each other off,” and acting out in destructive ways, Therapeutic Separation (TS) is recommended.

It is a set period of time during which you continue your work in therapy, remain a couple, but live apart. The “time away” is planned and intended to allow partners to relax and regroup so that they can focus and energise.

These become the Terms of Separation

  • Financial management
  • Sex and intimacy with each other or others during the time apart**
  • Managing “family time” if desired during the Therapeutic Separation
  • Concerns about privacy (who they tell, and what is permissible to say)
  • Children’s care and visitation, as well as minimising the impact on children
  • Setting boundaries for “heavy” discussions and date nights
  • Pet care, parental duties, and household chores

It should be noted that in the most successful Therapeutic Separation, the couple remains monogamous. It is recommended no introduction of any dating, as it destabilizes the marriage. The goal Therapeutic Separation is to keep the energy IN the marriage.

Legal separation can mostly be filed directly in a court in some of the states. Starting with a written petition also known as a complaint, you can go to your local court and file for separation. This has the same process as divorce. The judge will either decide for the couples or they both will agree on marriage-related issues like child custody and support, alimony, and property division

The court will provide the formal settlement agreement form after everything is resolved. If the agreement seems to be okay by the court, they will then issue the orders and declare the couples legally separated.

  • Child Arrangements: During separation and divorce, decisions need to be made about the child arrangements, how parenting time will be arranged, and how the children will be financially supported.

  • Spousal Support: The issue of spousal support, also known as alimony, can arise in separation and divorce situations. The aim is to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce or separation by providing ongoing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse.

  • Property Division: The division of property, including assets like homes, cars, and savings, as well as liabilities like mortgages and debts, is a common element in separation and divorce. The division can be determined through mutual agreement or, if necessary, a court order.

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Ken S, Maynard CDFA

Divorce Advice

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About the Author:
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FM

I help smart and successful couples, create separation agreements with clarity and soft landings for secure futures, in 4 meetings or less without all the lawyer created overwhelming conflicts, confusion and costs. You can work with me by video conference or with a DTSW associate at any of our 6 DTSW Greater Toronto mediation centers, including | Aurora | Barrie | North York | Vaughan | Mississauga | Scarborough.

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