Separation Advice: 5 Things To Avoid In Your Separation

separation advice for menBy Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

The recent news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “love child” has glossed over a far more common and problematic issue in his situation that you are more likely to face – a trial separation.

When clients come to me for legal separation advice, I tell them a trial separation is a break – from your spouse, from “it all” – to determine whether you are just going through a low point in your marriage or you should divorce.

At first blush, it sounds like a good idea. No one wants to spend money divorcing needlessly, particularly when money is in short supply to begin with.

But, if you are not careful, that separation to help you determine whether to divorce can snowball into the biggest problem in your divorce.

Here is some separation advice for men on what you should not do during your trial separation.


1. Don’t publicize it:

Tell someone you are getting a divorce, and suddenly everyone has something to say. You’ll hear horror stories, preaching, “legal separation advice” (c/o Google), etc., most of them inaccurate or exaggerated.

And that means people are talking about you and your spouse. Like the game “Telephone,” what you say will come back to you contorted, and your spouse will have heard it, too. That often perpetuates a divorce.

So leave your Facebook status alone, skip the public statement and keep to yourselves.


2. Don’t move out:

Move out of your home, and your chances of retaining even equal time with your children or your precious belongings are slim to none.

Those news stories about couples living in separate homes and sharing time with the kids are just that – stories. It rarely happens in real life, and it probably does not happen much in Hollywood life, either.

To a judge, you look like the parent who gave up and the spouse who evidently did not care much about the baseball card collection to take it with you when you left.

Judges rarely care how helpful you thought you would be by letting your wife stay with the kids or how much you intended to return to retrieve your belongings. Your wife, who’s angling to keep the kids and your stuff, will make you out to be nothing more than an abandoner.


3. Don’t maintain the status quo:

You might agree to pay the bills for your wife while you rent a one-bedroom apartment, but you are fitting yourself for disaster if one of you files for divorce later.

For one thing, if she really needs a job, you give her no incentive to get one. Moreover, by continuing to pay the mortgage, the insurance, the utilities, the grocery bill, etc., you are making her case for alimony. You send the message that you can support her, even if you can’t, and are comfortable doing it, even if you aren’t.

The better thing to do is determine, before you separate, who is responsible for what bill, put the bill in that person’s name (if possible), and follow-up to make sure the bill is paid.


4. Don’t date just to date:

A trial separation is supposed to be a time to discover what you want, but that does not mean you have to test out different women.

Take this time to reflect on your marriage and your goals, and leave the casual dating alone. Otherwise, you could end up with your own “love child” and an unintended reason to get a divorce.


5. Don’t delay the inevitable:

The separation should be a short time to reflect. Believe it or not, many go on for years, both spouses waiting for the other to make the first move. The problem is, neither is happy, and one spouse (probably you) is stuck paying the bills.


Although, in some states, your separation agreement before a divorce begins will not replace an agreement to divide your property and debts made during your divorce, it is a good precedent.

To schedule an appointment with a men’s divorce lawyer for additional marriage separation advice, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

Read Related Article: “Legal Separation Advice: What To Do During A Separation


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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18 comments on “Separation Advice: 5 Things To Avoid In Your Separation

    My sister is looking at getting a divorce soon. We want to make sure that she is able to do everything in her power to make this a smooth process through her separation. I hadn’t thought about how moving out before the divorce could cause the judge to see that parent as the one who gave up and left their belongings. We’ll be sure we help her find the right attorney for her case and that she does these things to help everything go well.

    Most couples go through spells when they’re disconnected and can’t see eye to eye; it happens and it’s nothing to worry about. But when you realize that’s become the norm rather than the exception, it may be time to think about other options.

    I and hubby have been separated for almost 3 yrs now. I moved out and I m staying at my parents house. I think we got married for da wrong reasons. We be got 3 kids together. BT I don’t love him anymore. I m thnking of dirvocing him.

    These are some great tips for going through a divorce. I like how you said that it’s best not to tell a lot of people about it. Like you said, everyone will have someone to say about it!

    Your thoughts on not moving out really make sense to me. I can see how that act could be twisted to one’s favor. My friend may get a divorce soon. He’s not too sure how to act in the home anymore, sadly.

    Recently my kids mom does no want to try anymore my mom owns the house and it basically came down to this she says move out or I’ll file child support. So my aunt lives next door and I’m thinking of moving next door to give her space. And I still see my kids every day. I pay the rent and she pays the other bills what do u think? We are still friends for now and she does want me to see my kids I am a great father and my kids love me

    my son has been in the military for four years. he has been married for almost two but separated for most of the time. is she entitled to anything.

    I was quite intrigued by the suggestion not to move out. I didn’t even realize that moving out could cause the possible loss of all your possessions, I just assumed that moving out would give both parties more time to figure things out. My little brother recently decided to separate from his wife for a time and in that decision also moved out. Though things are looking up for their relationship I sincerely hope he won’t be caught in a tough situation because of a rash decision.

    Hello, is good I inform all the men and guys out there, that sometime we all make mistakes in our relationship and made our relationship to be broken and is also our responsibility to make it work by seeking for solution to it, I’m very happy today to tell you little of my relationship problem, i cheated once on my wife and she caught me and she was ready to end our marriage because i truly love her i quickly seek for solution to stop her that is when i came across Dr.Ekpen temple who has help so many people restore their broken marriage and relationship i also contact him today my marriage is restored, I’m going to drop his contact so that does having the same issues can contact him for solution on (ekpentemple @ gmail . com).

    I really love your tip about not moving out. My sister and her husband have been thinking about getting a divorce for the past few months and I think that spending time with the kids during a difficult time such as that is really important. You want to make sure that the relationship with your kids stays strong and loving.

    My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years ; this is the second marraige for both of us. We have no children together and the only bills we have together are rent , car payments and insurance, and utilities. Since he lost the last two jobs he was employed with, he was forced into an early retirement. With his monthly income less than $1000 monthly, and my job being the sole income, I have been paying the majority of the bills in addition to my own (he pays the car payments and his own bills) as well as raising my two youngest sons . The majority of our marriage has not been a happy one for one reason or another, and with him being home constantly , things have just gotten very much worse. After this last fiasco, I am going to suggest, ask, for a separation. We are both old enough to understand how precious life really is (he is in his 60 ‘ s and I am in my mid 50’s) and it is not fair to either of us to keep going on like this. I need to know what my rights are in case of a legal separation/divorce.

    We live at her mother’s house, ,she took the kids anfd lefyt for 2 days, wants me out. her mother toll me to leave and took keys from me. i am at my parents home, her mother call and told her she could come back, i was gone and can’ get back in.


    Hello i have a situation . My wife of 9 yrs wants a unofficial seperation . She wants me to move in with my brother (basement) while she moves out of her parents two family house and move in a apartment with our two youger girls , while she’s living the dream being on her own she wants me to foot the bill and pay for her truck witch is in my name . What do you think i should do? Thanks Chris

    We live at her mother’s house, ,she took the kids anfd lefyt for 2 days, wants me out. her mother toll me to leave and took keys from me. i am at my parents home, her mother call and told her she could come back, i was gone and can’ get back in.

    Right or Wrong Decision?
    I am retired military and now a disabled vet in NJ. I was told this state doesn’t have a “legal separation”. We were married 24 years 10 months and she decided over a year ago that she wasn’t happy and needed a break. She moved out leaving me and our three kids, aged 17 (High School Jr) and 16 (Twins) who are now 18 and 16, respectively. She has publicized it, attempts to maintain the status quo by agreeing to continue paying the electric bill (which is the only bill she’s ever paid for the house), buy groceries (which she claimed was $300 a week when we talked splitting bills and was one of the reasons why she couldn’t pay anything else), and cook for the kids once in a while. I have enough money to get by but not enough for a lawyer. I don’t want to lose custody or end up having to pay her alimony or child support so I planned to remain married until the twins are 18. However, I’ll do what I have to do if she files for divorce. Am I hurting my kids with this decision?

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