Legal Separation Advice: What To Do During A Separation

marriage separation adviceBy Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

When I give legal separation advice for men, I tell them a trial separation is usually not a good idea. However, if you find yourself in a separation, you need to protect yourself.

My other divorce article explained what you should not do during your trial separation. In this article on marriage separation advice we’ll look at five things you should do during a trial separation.

1. Do tell close family:

You should tell close family that you and your spouse are separating. By “close,” I mean the family members you can trust, your confidants. Don’t publicize it to the world.

Be upfront about your plans so they are not surprised. This is a time to rely on your family for help – financially, morally and otherwise – so keep them informed.

2. Do see the kids if you have to move out of the marital home:

If you have already moved out of the house, or have no other choice, then make a schedule to see your kids and stick to it. Have them spend overnights with you.

If you do divorce, then you will have already established a pattern for parenting and shown your ability to provide for your children in a new environment.

A parenting pattern and your ability to provide are two key factors a judge will consider when deciding who receives custody.

3. Do open a separate bank account:

It’s amazing how many guys will move out of the house but keep their paychecks directly deposited to their joint account for their wife’s use.

This might make sense if she traditionally paid all the bills, but it’s no good if she’s getting ready to file for divorce. She has complete control over your money, and she could easily, and probably will, withdraw all of it right before she files.

While you are separated, open a separate account and put some money there for reserve – you’ll need it if things get ugly.

4. Do be honest about a new relationship:

You don’t want to date just to date, but if you have met someone be honest about it.

All states now have “no fault” divorce, which means a girlfriend (including one you cheated with) makes not one difference. Even when an affair does matter, it matters only slightly or in cases of egregious sleeping-around that has confused your children and left you penniless. In other words, it is a limited consideration.

It is a sad thing, but a true one, that marriages fall apart. That does not make you a bad person. If you have found someone else and believe it is time to move on, you are better off being honest about it than lying the rest of your marriage to your family, your kids and yourself.

5. Do have a separation agreement:

This will help define the parameters of your trial separation.

Who will pay what bills? Are you allowed to date? Who picks up the kids from school? How long will you wait before making the decision to divorce or reconcile? Will you go to counseling? Will you cancel joint credit cards (you should)?  What is the best way to communicate with your spouse (phone, e-mail, text)?

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.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

To schedule an appointment with a men’s divorce lawyer, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

Read related article: “Legal Separation Advice: 5 Things To Avoid In Your 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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6 comments on “Legal Separation Advice: What To Do During A Separation

    after 30 years, my husband wants to separate (no divorce). As painful this is for me, I am willing to work towards my marriage; but he said it’s “done.” He said he will financially support me but he also has to live. He will leave the matrimony home to me and he will find a place. We have children all adults. What are the things I should have in writing to make sure he keeps his word ? Is there a ‘separation agreement’ form I should print and hopefully he’ll sign? I’m overwhelmed with this new change — I understand State of NJ doesn’t have a separation guideline.

    Im separed from my USA husband for 15 years I don’t want anything from him how can I make my status single without divorce him I did send him divorce papers 14years ago he filed it instead of sign it and divorce me

    Hello my is Gina and Iam married I been married for like going on like 6y now and it’s been different some headaches as well .and tired I have not been a happy me and my husband is not getting alone most of the time it me I feel . We also have 4 kids together he work and I do to but it’s not there with us no more for now it’s now a separate thing we just started to do he want it he been wanted it also I think is going to leaning to divorce too so it’s a big thing now I feel it may be a way to do so cause he very uncomfortable and unhappy with me he told me and he want this more I feel Iam giving want he wants cause my kids come first and me to be happy and move on this relationship has last a long time now I been knowing him for like 12 to 13 years now and sometimes things last sometimes it don’t and I have to understand how he feels and what u wants .

    Hello, My son’s wife want’s to take their daughter out of the home and live at her parents home, and eventually divorce. She saying she wants to have 50/50 custody; having their 2 year old daughter half the time, and my son having her half the time. Is it legal for her to take the child out of the home and create this scenario on her own? My son is broken hearted by this, especially having his daughter taken out of the home. Any advise would be greatly, greatly appreciated. They live in Tehama County, roughly 140 miles north of Sacramento in CA.
    Thanks for your consideration of this matter.
    Vince Barber

    I would suggest that he should ask her immediately about a visitation plan for example: he wants to see the child 3 times a week – and also keep the child for over the weekends (i.e. if the child is not breast feeding). This is important. This will set a precedence and if things go haywire towards a divorce this will enable him to secure a 50/50 joint custody.

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