What You Should Do & Not Do During a Legal Separation

Divorce is not for every unhappily married couple. The finality of divorce and the official termination of their marriage in the eyes of the state and the law can be simply too much of a major change or decision. If you are feeling like you are in such a situation with your marriage, legal separation might be more appropriate. Separation effectively acts like a divorce but does not actually terminate the marriage.

However, just as with a divorce process, you need to move carefully through your legal separation to avoid complications and missteps. What you do is just as important as what you do not do.

Keep this quick list of separation dos and don’ts in mind:

  • Dos:
    • Talk with your spouse: Assuming that domestic violence is not a reason why you want to separate, you should try to talk to your spouse about your ideas for legal separation. Do not expect or try to mediate all the differences with just the two of your present, but it is helpful to try to get an idea of what direction you both are pointing. Shutting down all communications can drag out the process and make things worse.
    • Let your children know: At some point, your children need to know that you are planning on legally separating. Rather than trying to hide it from them, come up with a way to break the news to them gently. Once again, if you are capable of talking with your spouse without exploding into a heated argument, you might want to tell your children together.
    • Consider key aspects of separation: Your separation is going to control the same day-to-day aspects as a divorce, which means it is used to decide child custody, spousal support, property distribution, and so forth. The more thorough your separation agreement, the easier it should be to transition into your life after the separation completes. It will also make it simpler to divorce, should you ultimately decide that is what you want to do.
    • Retain an attorney: Without professional insight into the general rules surrounding legal separations, you could feasibly make some big mistakes that otherwise would have been avoided. As with any family law dispute, do yourself and your family a favor by letting an attorney act on your behalf, or at least as your guide.
  • Don’ts:
    • Try to start arguments: As your legal separation progresses, you should expect there to be some debates and contentious discussions here and there with your spouse. This is fine, but you do not want to intentionally start heated arguments or actual fights. In the end, such behavior is only going to make things worse for everyone.
    • Use your children as messengers: The fastest way to damage your relationship with your children is trying to make them stand between you and your spouse during a legal separation. Anything you want to say to your spouse but do not think you can deliver it in person due to emotions or nerves, ask your separation attorney to do it for you.
    • Rush your separation agreement: You might understandably be eager to separate from your spouse to get some time and space to yourself. Do not let your eagerness turn into impatience and haste, which will increase your chances of overlooking something important or making a mistake that hurts you in the long run.
    • Back down from key issues: Speaking of the final results garnered from a legal separation, keep in mind that you are planning how the foreseeable future will pan out. If there is something you think you certainly cannot live comfortably without, then you should not be quick to concede to your spouse’s contradictory wants. For example, if you know you need a certain amount of spousal support to keep the lights on, do not be afraid to fight for that amount.

Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich is a renowned and reputable family law firm in Riverside County , also serving Murrieta and Temecula. If you have questions or concerns about your legal separation, you can find confidence and comfort in working with our team of divorce attorneys. For more than 50 years of collective legal experience, we have been helping people build stronger futures and would love to be given the same opportunity with you. Call 951.687.6003 to learn more about our services and your options during a free case consultation.


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