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Trial separation: Pros and cons

You feel like you want to get divorced. At the same time, you know it's a huge decision for your future. You want time to really think it over.

Many people like you will decide to use a trial separation. They take time apart to see if it's the right answer before filing for divorce. There are pros and cons to this approach.

Pros

  • It's cheap. Your living expenses may increase, but there aren't many other costs.
  • You don't make your decision based purely on one fight or negative emotions surrounding one event. If you do decide to split up, you know it's the right choice.
  • You get time away to analyze your situation. This can lead to a positive resolution, even if that still means divorce.

Cons

  • You still have the same financial obligations. If you and your spouse have to pay the mortgage together, you're still paying it even though you're not living in the house.
  • Assets are often still considered marital assets. The same is true for debts. If you're not legally separated, you still have to divide them if you do get divorced.
  • Any unexpected windfalls may also be marital property to which your spouse has a claim. For instance, if you get a bonus at work and then decide to get divorced, you may lose half to your spouse.

It's very important to fully understand all of your legal options at a time like this. For instance, you may be able to use a legal separation, rather than just starting the trial on your own. This could help protect your assets and shield you from debt even if you're not yet fully divorced.

Source: Live About, "The Pros and Cons of a Trial Separation," Cathy Meyer, accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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