Trial Separations: Do They Work in the Long Run?

Young couple undergoing a trial separation symbolised by being on separate sides of a vertical divide in the middle of the image

When a marriage breaks down or a couple experiences serious marital issues, a decision has to be made about the future of their relationship. While most people either attempt to work things out or get a divorce, others opt for a temporary legal separation in an attempt to save their marriage, but do they work in the long run?

A divorce is a tough experience for even the most resilient and strong-minded of people, so it’s no surprise that many couples do everything they can to avoid going through. Especially if there is a possibility of saving the relationship, therefore preventing the heartache of breaking up a family and the various expenses of divorce.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at trial separations and discuss whether or not they can work for couples in the long run.

What is a Legal Separation?

A legal separation is where you draft a ‘Separation Agreement’, which sets out you and your spouse’s rights and responsibilities while you are living apart. Although you will no longer be living together, you will still be legally married. If you do eventually get a divorce, having a separation agreement in place will help with certain aspects such as dividing assets.

A separation agreement is particularly beneficial if you and your partner are attempting a trial separation, and want to establish both of your obligations going forward. It will also help with decisions about which parent children will live with, as well as how assets such as shared finances and property are dealt with during the trial period.

Benefits of Trial Separations

You’ll Have Space to Decide What You Want

A divorce is a complicated and daunting process, so therefore it’s not a decision that should be rushed or taken lightly. It’s, for this reason, that a trial separation can prove to be very beneficial for couples who are hesitant to end their marriage. Doing so not only gives you the time and space to think clearly, but it also provides you with an opportunity to miss your spouse. And the latter is often what makes or breaks a couple following a trial separation.

It Gives You Time to Prepare for a Divorce

Most would assume that the sole purpose of a trial legal separation is to save a marriage, but it’s also ideal for couples who fully intend to get divorced and need time to prepare. Aside from the fact that the grounds for divorce in the UK require you to be separated for 2-5 years, being apart will remove you from a stressful environment and allow you to think clearly about important factors that come into play after a divorce such as parenting plans and child support.

You Will Still Have Marital Benefits

Despite no longer being in a relationship (for now, at least), a separated couple are still technically married. This means they can enjoy certain benefits of a married couple, such as tax cuts, pensions, health insurance, or waiting until the mortgage is paid off until they get divorced and divide their assets. This will be easier for couples on good terms to achieve, but those who aren’t will benefit more if they manage to settle their differences — even if it’s only temporary.

Seeking the Help of a Family Lawyer

Although a separation isn’t legally binding and therefore enforced by the courts, you will need the assistance of a family lawyer to draft a separation agreement. This will establish the terms of the separation and the rights of each party during this period. At this stage, it’s essential to seek the help of a reputable divorce solicitor.

Failing to do so could see you missing out on your fair share of the marital assets if you do go on to get a divorce, especially as a separation agreement can come into play if your case should go to court. So it’s safe to say that your choice of family lawyer will be vital for your quality of life and financial stability after a divorce.

Are you and your spouse considering a trial separation? At KMJ Solicitors our team specialises in all areas of family law. We can guide you through the entire separation process and ensure that in the event of a divorce you are prepared. Get in touch with us today for your free, no-obligation consultation. You can also refer to our FREE legal divorce guide to give you an overview of legal separation.

Clayton spent five years working in family law with a firm in Australia before moving to the UK in 1999. He deals with all aspects of family law, specialising in all family matters, offshore trusts, company structures, international law, prenuptial agreements, high net worth cases and cohabitation law.