Is it really the "easy fix" you think it is?
So, you think you want to "separate" from your spouse (but aren't quite ready to say "divorce" yet).
Fair enough. Let’s talk about what brought you to this dilemma, ladies. Are you (like I was) hoping this will be a baby step toward resolving your marriage problems? Do you think "separating" will lessen the impact of you pulling away? Does the word "divorce" sound too frightening? Actually, don’t bother answering that last one. I know the answer:
"Separation” sounds kinder.
I was there. I thought if I pursued a "separation" (I was desperate to avoid "divorce"), that the implied space apart would give my husband and me time to reflect, to cool down, to consider how we might live together without conflict. This step, in my mind, was toward what I so critically craved — space and peace to figure things out. Because, for sure, the "D" word sounded way too final (It is, after all, crossing a line of "no return.")
In my mind, if only we could have peace and time apart, we might see things differently. The toxicity would blow over, and behind it, a space might emerge preserved for us — a space full of hope with room for us to reconcile.
Well, if you're considering asking for a separation, here are four brutal truths you must consider first:
1. Exploring your legal rights does NOT mean you're choosing divorce.
It’s natural that you don’t want to rush into finalities, but let me share with you a few things from the other side of the bridge. Finding out what your rights are and attaining information about separation, divorce, or a post-nuptial agreement, does not mean you have to follow through and actually seek a divorce.
As a grown, thinking woman, understand this: You're entitled to the pursuit of happiness. You're allowed to find out what's possible and what different paths might mean for you and your family. Researching options does not equal choosing an option. So don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
In the past, in order to divorce, one person in the marriage had to prove the other was guilty of wrongdoing. At the time, legal separation was a means to establish grounds for divorce. Now, however, all 50 states honor "no fault" divorce, meaning a couple may divorce for any reason and this knee-jerk reaction that you must separate first is passé.
2. Separation might end up costing you a lot of money unnecessarily.
For some women, particularly of a certain age, a legal separation seems like the answer for financial reasons. And sometimes, it’s in the interest of everybody, especially the children, for the parents to not live under the same roof — as soon as possible — because it's a war zone.
However, no one should move out of the house without a written agreement in place to protect each of your interests and concerns. In fact, if you simply move out without this agreement, you're putting yourself at risk of the court accusing you of abandoning your children.
If you decide to legally separate, you will need an attorney to help you draft a legal document that delineates how you and your spouse will separate the finances and share care of the children during the separation. That said, it's important to know that going through all the steps of a legal separation is time consuming and costly.
So, if you think you'll eventually pursue a divorce anyway, the hassle of a legal separation may simply not be worth it. (For insights to the legal processes and differences between a separation and divorce, read this interview with a well-respected NYC attorney. Or for more on what to ask a divorce attorney, visit this list of suggested questions.)
3. Separation might drag out an already long, tedious process.
There's a good chance you're really using separation as an emotional crutch, a means to slow things down before you decide whether or not to divorce. But realize this, divorce itself is not a fast process. You will have time to reflect during the divorce process whether or not it's ultimately the right path for you.
As women, we like time. We like safe "outs" because we want to believe there is still hope for a brighter resolution. Understand that by embarking on the divorce process, if at any time you want to abandon ship and reconcile, it is possible (of course, only if your spouse is also willing.)
The point is to recognize that you've arrived in a place in your relationship where you realize something must change. The Same Old is not working. You must consider and eventually construct something new, and to know what that new thing is requires time, information and thoughtful consideration.
4. You need sound legal advice before you decide either way.
Do not get hung up on the words "separation or divorce" yet. Instead, talk to a lawyer about your unique circumstances. Like divorce, a legal separation varies from state to state, so obviously it’s important to get the advice of a divorce attorney licensed in your state to determine if a legal separation agreement or a divorce is more viable for you.
Or, talk to a divorce coach for help navigating the emotional space you find yourself in right now. A divorce coach can give you an overview of the various paths, and can even connect you with the right attorneys, mediators, and financial advisors you may need to understand the nuances to your specific story.
You deserve to know what's possible for you and your family so you can make the right decision when the time comes. Remember, learning does not equal pulling the trigger.
Looking for a divorce coach? Schedule a free consultation with Kim or Liza and learn more about what's possible for your life. Whether you engage with us further or not, we guarantee you will walk away with a new insight or resource.
This article was originally published at www.sasforwomen.com . Reprinted with permission from the author.