Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

What Does Temporary Separation Mean?

What Does Temporary Separation Mean

A separation isn’t the same as a divorce. Separation means that you are living apart from your spouse, but you’re still legally married until you get a judgment of divorce from a court (even if you already have a judgment of separation). However, generally a separation does affect the financial responsibilities between you and your spouse before the divorce is final. There are three different types of separation. In most states, only one (legal separation) changes your legal status but all three of them have the potential to affect your legal rights.

Temporary Separation In Utah

If you and your spouse need a break from the relationship, you may choose to live apart while you decide between divorce or reconciliation. While you’re separated, the same legal rules apply as when you are married, in terms of ownership of property. For example, money you earn and property you buy are likely to still be considered jointly owned by you and your spouse, depending on your state’s rules about property ownership. If you and your spouse are hoping to reconcile, it’s a good idea to write an informal agreement about some issues that will surely come up. For example, you will need to decide whether or not you will continue to share a joint bank account or credit cards and how you’ll budget your spending, which of you will stay in the family home, how expenses will be shared, and the like. If you have kids, you’ll need to decide how and when each of you will spend time with them. If you both decide there’s no going back, your temporary separation turns into a permanent one.

Permanent Separation

When you live apart from your spouse without intending to reconcile but you are not divorced, you are considered permanently separated. In some states, living apart can change property rights between spouses. if you don’t intend to get back together, then assets and debts acquired during the separation belong only to the spouse who acquires them. Once you are permanently separated, you are no longer responsible for any debts that your spouse incurs. Similarly, you’re no longer entitled to any share of property or income that your spouse acquires or earns. Because it can significantly affect how your property and money are divided, the date of permanent separation is sometimes hotly contested in a divorce. For example, if your spouse left in a huff and spent a month sleeping on a friend’s couch, but you didn’t discuss divorce until the month had passed and neither of you intended to divorce before then, the date of separation is somewhat questionable. If during that month your spouse received a big bonus at work, who it belongs to is also arguable. If you move out of the house and don’t expect any long-term reconciliation with your spouse, there may be consequences to going out or spending the night together just for old times’ sake. If you do briefly reconcile, you risk changing the date of separation and becoming responsible for your spouse’s financial actions during a period when you thought you were responsible only for yourself. Once you’re separated and have made basic agreements about your joint assets and debts, you don’t have to divorce right away. Some people stay married because of insurance and inertia can be a factor, too.

Legal Separation

In some not all states, you can get a legal separation by filing a request in family court. Being legally separated is a different legal status from being divorced or married, you’re no longer married, but you’re not divorced either, and you can’t remarry. But the court’s order granting the legal separation includes orders about property division, alimony, and child custody and support, just as a divorce would. People choose legal separation instead of divorce because of religious beliefs, a desire to keep the family together legally for the sake of children, the need for one spouse to keep the health insurance benefits that would be lost with a divorce, or simple aversion to divorcing despite the desire to live separate lives. Some people live very happily in a state of legal separation for many years. (If you’re considering a legal separation instead of divorce so that you can keep insurance benefits, check the insurance plan before making the decision. Some consider a legal separation the same as a divorce for purposes of terminating health benefits.)
A temporary separation is an informal agreement in which a married couple spends time away from each other. The arrangement is for a specific period of time, and is not a legal separation. This means the couple remains legally married even though they are physically separated. A couple may choose to undergo a trial separation before initiating divorce proceedings, or the process can lead to a reconciliation. In either case, a separation allows spouses time away from each other to consider their relationship, values, and long-term goals.

How to Begin A Temporary Separation

The temporary separation begins as soon as one spouse leaves or moves out of the marital residence. The spouse may choose to move in with a family member or friend, or they may sign a new apartment lease. Before you choose this informal arrangement, it is best to work out various aspects such as living arrangements (rent or mortgage), visitation, and expenses. The couple may decide to begin the trial separation process when attending marriage counseling sessions. Depending on how things progress, they can choose to reconcile and live together or initiate divorce proceedings. The temporary separation doesn’t require a court order. It can last as long as the couple wants (a few weeks, months, or even years). A separation agreement is not required to live temporarily apart as a couple. An oral agreement on childcare, rent, and finances is enough. Keep in mind, however, that it will be difficult to enforce an oral agreement in court.

Characteristics of Temporary Separations

Temporary separations are versatile and much less formal than a court process like divorce. A couple can decide the general terms of their agreement and take advantage of its flexibility to make things easier for everyone involved.

The characteristics of a temporary separation include:

• Temporary Arrangement: The temporary separation arrangement is often temporary. The couple chooses to be separated for a while to work out their various disagreements or “cool off.” They may decide to reconcile in the future. The temporary separation may also turn into a divorce or legal separation.

• Stay Legally Married: The couple stays legally married and can file legal documents as a couple. Any property accumulated by either of the partners during the arrangement is considered shared or marital property.
Since temporary separation is an informal process, it doesn’t require the filing of any legal papers. This allows a couple to explore their options without the legal ramifications of court agreements. For example, support payment and child custody are issues that the couple should work on during the temporary separation process. Likewise, property division is usually not part of temporary separation. One of the prerequisites in states that allow no-fault divorce is that the couple should be physically separated from each other for a specific period of time (minimum number of months). Because a temporary separation is not a legal separation, that time spent away from each other counts toward the separation requirement for no-fault filing. This depends on the rules of each jurisdiction.

Key Rules for a Successful Temporary Separation

While it is tempting to prolong your temporary separation indefinitely to avoid the complexities of a potential divorce or couples therapy, you should set some ground rules before beginning. This will allow you to make the most out of your trial separation and work toward a solution, rather than simply lengthening your time spent apart.

Set an End Date

Temporary separations cannot go on endlessly. It is important to set an end date. The separation arrangement can be for a couple weeks or months. Most couples opt for six months. If you are apart for a longer period, the chances of getting back together diminish.

Living Arrangements

If you decide to separate, someone has to move out. Which partner will that be? While you do not have to be too specific about where you each will live, be sure to outline which spouse will be moving out when the separation begins. That way, you will avoid confusion and get the process going much faster.

Paying the Bills and Spending

You will have to pay bills even when you are living apart. Set rules about who will pay what bills. Apart from paying bills, you will also need to determine how you will spend the joint marital money. Set limits on how much each other can spend. If you are not clear about your finances, it could create big problems in the future.

Dating During Temporary Separation

Dating others during temporary separation will be hard on your marriage. You and your spouse need to discuss rules about dating others. If you are not on the same page about this, it can destroy any chances of reconciliation.

Spending Time with Kids

After you decide to separate, you should set a schedule for spending time with your children. Talk about whether you want to see your kids daily or weekly. Discuss how you will handle vacations and holidays that come up when you are separated. Following a schedule that you both agree on will give your kids a sense of safety and security. Also decide how you want to parent the kids in the absence of your spouse.

Get help from a professional marriage counselor if you are serious about reconciling with your partner. It is also advisable to talk with a divorce lawyer during a temporary separation. This will enable you to be prepared if you want to initiate divorce proceedings.

How Will a Temporary Separation Affect Your Divorce?

A temporary separation will enable you to evaluate how an eventual divorce will affect your family and finances. However, keep in mind that things can change once you actually decide to initiate a divorce, because an informal trial separation is not legally binding. For example, if one of the spouses keeps the kids during the temporary separation, it doesn’t mean that the kids will be given legal and physical custody to that spouse. By the same token, the temporary arrangements made during a short temporary separation will not have an effect on property division, custody, and support. If the separation is for a longer period, the judge will consider it during divorce and custody proceedings.

Temporary Separation Checklist

If you are wondering how to proceed with a temporary separation, consider the following:

• Before you choose to opt for temporary separation, you can share your plans with family or close friends. This is important for emotional support and safety. If you decide on leaving the house, you should determine where you will be staying.
• Write down your expectations from the separation decision. Writing down your expectations will enable you to decide whether you want to reconcile or initiate divorce proceedings.
• Managing finances is a big factor to consider during a separation. If you are not working, you may have to think about getting a job.
• Decide how the property will be separated. The division of property includes furniture, cooking utensils, and other items. Make a list of items and evaluate what you need.
• If you jointly own services with your partner, like an Internet package, you should decide whether you want to disconnect the services.
• Make a list of financial and marriage documents. Keep a copy of these documents. You will need them if you opt for divorce or legal separation.
Plan the Basics
• If you have decided to opt for temporary separation, you should inform your spouse about the decision. Talk openly about why you want to take some time off and separate. Avoid accusations and a harsh tone. It will only make matters worse.
• List the different aspects of your marriage that make you happy and unhappy. Think carefully and evaluate each one of these factors. This will enable you to make the important decision of whether you want to divorce or reconcile with your spouse.
• Discuss your expectations of the temporary separation with your spouse. You can also ask your spouse about their expectations.
• Separate your finances. This will help avoid disputes during the temporary separation.
Informing Your Spouse
• Choose a calm time and inform your partner about your decision to opt for temporary separation. Discuss why you want to go that route.
• You can both agree to go to marriage counseling. This will help you understand new things about your relationship.
• Remember that one of you will have to leave the house if you opt for temporary separation. Living in the same house might damage the relationship further.

Benefits of Temporary Separation

A temporary separation enables couples to realize what they will be losing if they don’t work on their marriage. A separation also allows the couple to assess the situation in a calm and mature way. This enables each spouse to make important decisions without the cloud of conflict hanging over their head. The separation can further enable partners to let go of biases and trivialities they have for each other, allowing them to focus on what is important in their relationship. Even if it ends in divorce, a temporary l separation is beneficial. It gives the couple ample time to decide on child custody, property division, and support.

Rules for a Successful Temporary Separation

• Have an end date
• Figure out your living arrangements
• Decide how you will pay the bills while you’re apart
• Set your spending rules during the trial separation
• Talk about dating during the trial separation
• What about sex? ( with each other and others)
• Set a schedule for when will each of you see the kids
• Decide how you are going to parent your kids
• Set rules for how and how often you will communicate with each other
• Get professional help while you’re separated
• Decide what you will tell your friends and family
• Decide in advance what will happen if someone breaks the rules

A temporary separation is an effective way to work through relationship problems, experience single life, and help you and your partner decide if divorce is in your future. Although a temporary separation is an informal, personal process, you should consult an experienced divorce lawyer before agreeing to its terms. The lawyer will provide advice and support if the separation arrangement is the first course of action before a divorce. Your attorney can also inform you how the temporary arrangement will affect you, your family, and your property. They will represent you in court if you decide to proceed with the divorce filing, or can simply provide legal counsel as you undergo the separation process. Contact an attorney today so you can get all the assistance you need for your temporary separation.

Temporary Separation Attorney Free Consultation

When you need legal help with a temporary separation in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We want to help you with separation and family law.

Michael R. Anderson, JD


Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506


Recent Posts

Can I Lose Custody Of My Child For Adultery In Utah?

Need To File A Probate

Utah Law On Open Carry

How Long Does It Take To Fill Out Bankruptcy Paperwork?

How Often Are Convictions On Appeal Overturned?

Can You Drive After A DUI Before Court Date?

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office