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A couple that is considering divorce may decide to spend some time apart from each other, to think over their feelings. This time apart is called a trial separation, and it is different from a legal separation.

A trial separation is an informal agreement in which both the parties agree to live away from each other for a certain amount of time, before they decide to make any final decision about filing for divorce. There is no legal agreement about how much time the couple will spend apart from each other, and neither the courts nor lawyers will get involved.

There are pros as well as cons to a trial separation. The biggest benefit is the time that a trial separation gives you. You can use this time apart to think things over. Divorce is not something that you want to rush into, and a trial separation gives both parties time to consider all the plus points of their marriage, and whether they really want to get divorced.

It also helps serve as a cooling off period to work through some of the issues that you and your spouse have in your marriage. Besides, you don’t have to involve courts and attorneys, which means that the trial separation is basically free of charge for you.

However, in many cases, all that a trial separation does is simply delay the divorce. During this time, your spouse could actually go and make expensive purchases on your joint credit cards, or buy a car on a loan, all of which would be considered marital debt. Additionally, family and friends will now become aware of the struggle in your marriage, and may begin to take sides, which can create a toxic environment.

For a trial separation to work really well, you must have some kind of agreement in place to deal with the daily nitty-gritty, even though there is no legal agreement. For instance, you may have to decide what kind of living arrangements you will have, not just for yourself and your spouse, but also for the children, and how you plan to get your children to spend time with the parent not living with them during the trial separation. For a separation to be effective, it’s also best to predetermine a time limit for the separation. Try to spend some amount of time together during the separation, to see if you can reconnect as a couple.