Keep the Peace During a Separation
Even after months or years of mounting tensions with a spouse, you may not yet be ready to make the permanent decision to divorce. Many couples find that a period of separation can provide clarity of mind regarding whether or not they are ready to end their marriage, or wish to try to reconcile. Here are some things to think about if separating, to make the separation period as peaceful and productive as possible.
1. Remain respectful and cooperative with your spouse
The tensions between yourself and your spouse may have left you angry and frustrated heading into a separation. It’s important, nonetheless, to be courteous, cooperative, and respectful throughout the separation. Since you and your spouse are still married, you will need to interact on a regular basis throughout a separation, especially if you have children together. These interactions will be much less stressful if you can avoid allowing them to become hostile or heated. Even if you’re only separating as a precursor to obtaining a divorce, you’ll still be in contact with your spouse for months. Setting a civil tone early in the process of ending a marriage could result in a smoother, less contentious divorce process.
2. Decide in advance how expenses will be divided and finances managed
Prior to a divorce, you’ll still share a number of financial accounts, credit cards, and bills with your spouse. Decide in advance who will pay which bills, and how you’ll handle spending from joint accounts or on joint lines of credit, to avoid any surprises.
3. Create clear guidelines on how long the separation will last or how the end of the separation will otherwise be determined
Rather than leaving a separation open-ended, choose either a length of time or other metric to determine when a separation will either result in a reconciliation or permanent end to the marriage. Some couples choose a number of counseling appointments they will attend together before making a decision regarding whether or not they will divorce. Others will decide that, if a spouse has not sought treatment for a drug or alcohol problem by a specific date, they will seek a divorce. Avoiding ambiguity will make the situation less stressful for both parties.
4. Make an agreement that governs your separation
Separation can leave both spouses vulnerable, whether to financial abuse or denial of visitation time with children. In order to protect both spouses’ interests, create a separation agreement that clarifies issues such as which spouse will have custody of the children, rights of the non-residential spouse to visit with children, whether there will be spousal support or child support paid during the separation, how joint accounts will be handled, and when a separation will end. Putting these terms in writing, with the help of an attorney, will offer peace of mind to both spouses.
If you’re facing a divorce, separation, or custody dispute in Kentucky, seek out legal help that will provide you with ethical and compassionate representation before the family court, and contact the Louisville offices of Gwin, Steinmetz & Baird for a consultation on your case, at 502-618-5700.