Separation between couples is frequently misunderstood and results to a lot of negative consequences if the said couple does not make the objective for separation clear from the beginning.
The key fundamental intent of any separation is to provide the couple with enough space and time to make a decision regarding their marriage without any undue pressure from each other. Other reasons while couples embark on a trial separation is to obtain some form of relief from existing destructive conflict, to lessen negative communications, to not to take each other for granted, achieve a healthier feeling of independence and self-control. The trial separation period also helps the couple to witness the impacts of marital issues and how it would feel like if they are finally divorced.
To ensure that a couple reaps the actual benefits of the trial separation period they must reach a trial separation agreement which needs to take care of the following issues:
Establish your objectives
You need to specify what you want to achieve through the trial separation. Come up with the rules of the separation, what you must and must not do while you are separated. Make a list of these and try to stick to them.
Both the parties need to resolve not to engage in anything that would jeopardize the continuity of the marriage like gossiping about the other party, having sexual affairs with outsiders or inhibiting your partner from contacting the children.
State the duration of the separation
The recommended period for a trial separation is between six weeks to a maximum of six months. The chosen duration must be clearly stated in your trial separation agreement. The duration should not be protracted to maintain a sense of significance and honesty particularly if you have children together. The more protracted the period of the separation, the less likely are you going to resolve the issue and come back together as a couple.
State your financial obligations
Your trial separation agreement needs to include the financial obligations you have individually and collectively. Specify who will cater to what, during the separation time. Make it realistic just the way you’d want it to be if you eventually decide to divorce each other.
You need to specify how the finances would be shared and how your children would be taken care of, to ensure the party that has custody of the children doesn’t bear the financial burden alone.
Decide on the frequency of contact with each other
Agree on the number of times you would want to meet each other and the manner of communication. You need to communicate regularly and come together frequently either alone or in the presence of a counselor. Constantly contact each other through text, email, snail mail, phone calls and schedule to meet each other face to face at least once a week. Organize marriage counseling during the time you are separated.
Decide on the nature and frequency of contact with others
Spell out if each of the marriage partners should or not date others during the time you are separated.
Maintenance of Privacy and Trust
- You must spell out what you will tell your children about your separation and your relationship.
- You must not try to spy on the other partner by trying to access his or her mail, email, voicemail, accounts and so on.
- You must not make any unexpected, unplanned visits or try to track your spouse.
- You need to spell out what you’d tell people about your relationship during the period you are living apart.
Visiting the children and taking care of their needs
- Spell out who will have custody of the children and plan on visitation arrangements at least once a week.
- Let the children know why you are separated and try to assure them of your love, irrespective of the separation.
- Specify which parent would be responsible for a particular need of the children and at what time.
The success of trial separation largely depends on spelling out the trial separation agreement at the right time and working hard to stick to the terms of the agreement.