There are a lot of reasons you may feel a need to separate from your partner but don’t yet feel ready to divorce. In fact, you may decide to remain legally separated indefinitely, if not forever.
In Arizona, there is little legal difference between the processes involved in legal separation and divorce, and it takes about the same amount of time. You can get the same kinds of benefits and protections from a separation as from a divorce, though, so you might want to compare them.
Reasons For Legal Separation
Some couples are being cautious and putting off a final resolution because there is still hope of reconciliation. If you have hope of keeping your family together, a separation will help you establish a framework so you can have a chance to deal with your issues on your own time.
Whether you need couples counseling or simply time apart, a legal separation can give you the time you need without pressure. You may even want a trial separation so you and your partner can get an idea of what life will be like if you decide to permanently separate.
You should still work out an agreement on how to deal with property or child support issues during a trial separation, but it won’t have the finality of a divorce.
There are other practical reasons to become legally separated. You may not be financially ready to maintain two households, so you may choose to live in the same household but establish separate bank accounts.
One major issue with continuing to maintain a single household is dealing with separated but living together boundaries, and it is always best to start with clear expectations.
One partner may be the one carrying health insurance, and a legal separation would allow the couple to remain on the same plan. Some couples stay together because they belong to a religion which doesn’t allow for divorce, but there are reasons to separate their interests in a legal separation.
What Is the Real Difference Between Separation and Divorce?
When you are married to someone, you keep all the rights you have as a result of the marriage. This includes important rights like healthcare, legal status, tax filing status, property ownership, and the right to inherit as next of kin.
Remaining married but separated and living together can be like a trial run where you experience the differences before you take final action.
When you are legally separated, you are still married under the law. That means that any property you accumulate during that time is still considered marital property when it comes to a final division of assets if it comes to that. You can also be responsible for new debts or other liabilities, and if you own a home together, you will be responsible for it.
Some couples find it easier to live together during a legal separation because it keeps a more open line of communication, so there are no misunderstandings or secrets as to what is happening during the separation.
What About Being Separated But Living Together With Kids?
Raising children is already hard enough without taking into consideration an entirely new household, especially if that other household isn’t located in a convenient location. Between work, school, childcare, and activities, families are already constantly on the go. In fact, the stress of dealing with too much stress may have been part of what caused you to feel the need for a separation.
When you are legally separated, you will have to continue to coordinate all these activities with the other parent. Legal separation with children in Arizona will involve making a parenting plan to ensure all your children’s needs are met.
Working together to find a solution is always preferable to dealing with unnecessary stress, especially when it comes to your family. If you have trouble working out a plan, you can use the assistance of a mediator and/or divorce attorney who will help you understand your options.
Living Together After Divorce
Once you are divorced, you don’t have the protections of the marriage anymore. You legally become a single entity instead of part of a marriage and no longer receive the credits that come with a married status.
Many couples choose to continue to live together even after divorce, often for years, to make their lives easier. They will get help paying for the household and household expenses, and they will have someone there in case of an emergency. When it comes to co-parenting, it is easier to get help from a parent you can easily locate.
Children Blame Themselves
When couples suddenly present their plans to divorce as an established plan, children are often traumatized and confused.
They don’t understand why their parents are breaking up, and they often blame themselves. During most divorces, children find out when one parent moves out of the family’s home.
When parents continue to live together after divorce, children can see their parents continue to work together to care for them. While children should never be drawn into adult drama, it is important to deal with their emotional issues immediately so they don’t internalize the negative feelings.
Couples that continue to live in the same household can continue to assure the children that they will always be their parents and support them.
Most couples are unevenly matched when it comes to income and earning potential, especially when there are children involved. One of the partners has usually been the primary one to take time off from work to care for young children, which often means fewer chances for promotions and raises.
When couples are legally separated living together, they can continue to meet all the daily expenses in an organized manner. There will be only one home payment, and couples can work out a fair way to split other expenses. It’s also a great time to find a fair way to split up household chores.
Practice Run — How Independent Should You Be?
Sometimes couples look at separation as a trial run, so they can be more successful when they make a final break. Living together while separated will give you more time to find a new place and work the best way for both of you to be financially independent.
You should put off activities like dating while you are separated, or at least be very discreet. Even an amicable break up will be painful, and there is no reason to cause further emotional harm by moving on romantically while you are still tied to your spouse.
It can also confuse the children if you bring another romantic partner into your home right away, and they may be resentful.
Analyzing the Separated But Living Together Benefits
Continuing to live together won’t work for everyone, but there are a lot of reasons it may be the best solution for you. If you are considering a divorce, you may want to consider whether you want to start with a legal separation. If you have any questions, you can consult with one of our family law lawyers who have handled these kinds of cases before. If there are children involved, contact our child custody attorneys for help with your situation.