How to Approach Your Spouse About Legal Separation

If you and your spouse have been struggling in your marriage, you may have decided to try separating for a while. For some couples, a separation gives each other a break but also allows for constructive communication and therapy to hopefully get the marriage back on track. For other couples, a separation acts as a transition to divorce. In either case, there is a right and a wrong way to approach your spouse about the situation so things stay as amicable as possible.

Use a Positive and Respectful Approach

Even if your spouse has an idea a separation is possible, it is important to be mindful of how you approach the topic. Choose a time and place that gives you time to talk and discuss it in a positive way. It is important not to be harsh or accusatory, as this makes reconciliation even harder. Think before saying anything so there is no resentment or anger.

Keep Up Open Communication

Even if the separation ends up in divorce, it is best to continue open communication during the separation. This helps in keeping things peaceful and allows for open discussions about the actions that led to the separation. Good communication is especially important when children are involved, as this situation will be confusing and challenging for them.

Sign a Legal Separation Agreement

Once you have both agreed to the separation, it is a smart idea to draw up a separation agreement that lays out specific responsibilities during the separation. This helps with the logistics of being separated while still meeting marital obligations, and it should be legally binding in the event your spouse is not living up to the agreement. Some benefits of a separation agreement include:

  • Clear outline of who pays for what and the living arrangements
  • Retain marital benefits such as health insurance and joint income tax filing
  • Tax advantage for the one paying spousal support
  • Written boundaries about joint savings, checking and credit accounts
  • Protection from debt spouse acquires during separation
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