The dynamics of relationships keep changing – sometimes, things may not work out between couples. Relationships may end for different reasons, and it is tough and painful for both. However, sometimes, you may find yourself in situations where you are separated but cannot live separately. This is especially true when you have kids or other factors (like financial) that make things tricky and delicate.
While some couples may agree with co-parenting and staying together after separation, many may not feel comfortable with the idea. If you are stuck in such a situation, read this article to learn how to navigate it delicately.
In This Article
Separation And Divorce: What Is The Difference?
A separation is not the same as a divorce. Separation means you live apart from your spouse, but you are still legally married. However, legal separation recognizes your separated status. On the other hand, divorce is the complete dissolution of your marital status.
Many couples choose to stay together even after separation and divorce. There could be multiple reasons for that. Let’s take a look at them.
Reasons For Living Together After Separation
1. For The Sake Of The Kids
Separation or divorce can be tough on the children. Often, couples choose to live together after separation for the sake of their kids. They want to ensure a safe and happy environment for the child and save them from the emotional trauma of choosing between parents and juggle living in two households. However, to stay in such an arrangement, couples have to overcome the negative feelings, anger, and sadness. This is commonly referred to as “parenting marriage.”
2. Seeking Reconciliation
Couples are often hopeful of reconciliation and may choose to live together after separation to give the relationship another shot. Couples who opt for counseling also consider this a great arrangement. You can apply for a trial separation to understand what this situation entails. This gives you time to make up before you proceed with the divorce. It is always worth taking a shot if you can live peacefully with each other.
3. Buying Time
Divorce proceedings are complicated and time-consuming. In the meantime, this arrangement works well for couples. They can also deal with issues and compromise on various details, such as finance, child custody, alimony, etc. A legal separation gives you time without any hard deadlines. You always have an option to work it out or make the separation permanent.
4. Financial Concerns
Managing two households, child support, legal issues regarding inheritance or property, mortgage, etc., can complicate matters. Some couples opt to live together even though they are separated to cut down the financial burden. Couples who are separated can still avail of medical insurance benefits under the same plan and support each other financially.
If you and your spouse want a break from the relationship, you can opt for separation before taking the tough route ( read divorce). While it is best to consult a lawyer regarding such discussions, the next section gives you an idea about the types of separation you may opt for.
Different Types of Separation
1. Trial Separation
This is a temporary phase where you and your partner stay apart. A trial separation is best for couples who need time to decide on the future of their relationship. After the separation period is over, you can choose to live together and reconcile or go for permanent separation and divorce.
During the trial separation, you can go for an informal contract that addresses issues like expenses, shared parenting duties, and usage of bank accounts and credit cards. Since you are legally married, your finances and properties will come under joint ownership.
2. Permanent Separation
If your efforts for reconciliation have not worked out, permanent separation is the next step. While this does not mean you are divorced, the law recognizes your separation. This may change the property rights between you and your spouse. After permanent separation, you may no longer be entitled to your spouse’s income or possessions. Similarly, you cannot be held liable for any of your partner’s debts or loans.
3. Legal Separation
You can apply for a legal separation in some states. This is a legal status where you are not married but not divorced either. Also, you cannot remarry if you apply for legal separation. However, just like a divorce, the court decides on the division of property, child support, custody, and alimony.
Couples opt for legal separation due to religious, political, or ideological differences but want to stay together for the sake of their kids. If you have decided to separate but live together, here are a few tips to make it easier for you.
Living Together After Separation: Tips To Make It Work
Here are a few tips for establishing ground rules and set clear boundaries to avoid complicating the situation:
- Avoid wearing wedding rings or any other symbolic adornments. This emphasizes the fact that you are no longer married and helps establish healthy boundaries and avoid confusion.
- Do not engage in romantic relationships. Sleep in different bedrooms. You can also demarcate the living space, so you both have exclusive areas to yourselves.
- Share the household chores. You do not have to take responsibility for each other’s needs. You can cook separately, get separate groceries, and clean your part of the house. You can live like roommates – two individuals staying under one roof and sharing resources. Avoid doing chores for each other out of habit.
- Cut down on time you spend with each other unless you are co-parenting. Attend school events such as PTA or school games. Take the teacher into confidence and explain the situation to prevent any misunderstanding in the future.
- Avoid having meals together or going out if you have no intention of getting back together. Try not to attend family gatherings or parties as a couple. Special occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and birthdays can be an exception, only if both are comfortable.
- Have separate budgets for house and personal expenses. Avoid pooling together personal expenses. This helps in setting clear financial boundaries.
- Limit socializing with mutual friends. You have your set of different friends and support systems.
- If you get back to dating, give a heads up to your partner. Be transparent but keep your private life private.
- Coordinate all the parenting activities with your partner. Make sure both of you follow up on your responsibilities so that the child is not neglected.
- Do not shout or have arguments in front of the children. Navigate difficult situations calmly and talk to each other. You can also take help from a counselor.
- Discuss ahead who you want to inform about your current living situation. Share information on a need-to-know basis to avoid complications. This holds true for friends, relatives, and acquaintances.
There may be situations when you have to live together after separation. Not all are comfortable with the idea as living together after separation comes with its own set of challenges. However, if there is no other way to work out differences, and you choose to do it for the sake of your kids and other obligations, it is best to do it amicably. Take hints from the article and discuss the possibilities and consequences with each other before taking a decision. This will help you handle the situation maturely.
- Living Apart Together (LAT): An Emerging Living Arrangement
- Getting Back Together After Separation: 15 Tips To Make It Easier
- Why Do Couples Divorce After 20 Years Of Marriage?
- How To Tell Your Kids You Are Getting Divorced