The decision to live apart during a separation period is a significant step in the journey towards divorce or reconciliation. Navigating this period can be complex and emotionally challenging, necessitating the guidance of a family law solicitor. While the wedding day is filled with joy and commitment, it’s important to recognise that divorce and separation are possibilities in any marriage.
In the United Kingdom, many marriages do end in divorce, as individuals grow and evolve, making decisions they never anticipated. Though these factors should not be excuses for divorce, they can contribute to its occurrence. Before the finalisation of divorce, couples often choose to live apart during a separation period.
This article will focus on the separation period in the context of UK family law. It will explore the significance of this period, legal considerations, financial arrangements, co-parenting responsibilities, and potential paths forward. Understanding the complexities of the separation period and seeking professional guidance from a family law solicitor can assist couples in making informed decisions and laying the groundwork for their future.
What is separation in marriage?
In simple terms, separation in marriage, or basically marriage separation is a mutual agreement between a married couple to discontinue living together. By this time, the spouses are unable to tolerate each other, and in their opinion, they feel that living under the same roof isn’t working for them anymore. This, however, doesn’t revoke their marriage certificate, it only adjusts the couple’s obligation towards the marriage – whether financial, parenting, or any other obligations. This may be as a result of various marital issues, which are pretty common among modern-day couples, including infidelity, lack of communication, addictions, or basically growing apart over time.
Is separation good for a marriage?
Yes, separation can be good for a marriage, but it depends on the specific circumstances on the said couple. Separation doesn’t always lead to divorce, because if both partners are willing to work on their issues, then they can use the separation to work on their individual issues before reuniting. However, not all separations can turn out to be good for your marriage and we are going to tell you all about it.
When it the separation good for your marriage
As we already mentioned earlier, the separation do sometimes give the willing partners time to think about their marriage, plus whether and how they can move forward from their current problems. At best, they can use this time to see and experience what life could be like without the other spouse, and that, in many cases, pushes the couple together again. Also, when apart, the spouses are able to identify the issues in their relationships, individually, and when they finally reunite, they will be able to talk and resolve them amicably. This way, it will result in a more satisfying and resilient marriage
What’s more, the separation can give each spouse an amazing opportunity to reflect on oneself, and also try to work through some individual issues, which may include attachment issues, communication issues, substance abuse, and childhood trauma. These are issues that one can only work on oneself, and if not handled well, would not only impact your marriage negatively, but also relationships with others. So, in such a situation, seeking out counselling would be the best idea.
When is separation not good for your family?
Separating when one partner is not intending to reconcile and is only leading the other partner on, will, of course, be damaging to a marriage. It’s not uncommon to find a partner who, despite wanting to divorce their partner, they are anxious about the prospect of the divorce, or is afraid to ask for the divorce. And so, when they ask for the separation, they will just take it to get away from the marriage. Ultimately, this kind of separation always leads to divorces, but it does consume a lot of energy from the willing partner.
Also, separation should never be used as a manipulation tool to your partner, as it will cause immense damage to the very foundation of the relationship. So, if you are planning to still remain and work on your relationship, try to pick out the aspect of the marriage that you are unhappy about, and attempt to work on those.
How to handle a separation of marriage
When the marriage gets to a point where a separation is needed, there are a number of ways that you can handle the situation effectively, and they include the following:
Accept everything that’s happening – it’s common and natural for couples going through a marriage separation to be in denial, and they just don’t want to accept that it’s happening. This could be due to the fact that you are replaying everything that happened prior to the separation, trying to figure out what or where everything went wrong. It can be a lot for some people to process. However, you need to accept that it is happening, and to keep yourself distracted, probably find something else to do to keep your mind occupied. A hobby will do! – cooking may be, joining a music class, traveling, or basically trying out new activities.
Speak out – ever heard of the saying, ‘a problem shared is a problem half-solved?’ Well, it is true! And it’s why it is very important that you find someone to talk to. It could be a close friend, a family member, or even a therapist – just make sure that it is someone that you can trust. And maybe before speaking out, you can inform your partner of your plans to do so, that is, if you deem it necessary. Whichever way you decide to use to speak out, just make sure you let all the emotions out, and at the end of it all, you will feel like a big load have been lifted off of you, and in that state, you will be able to deal with the marital issues with a clear head.
Seek professional help – other than speaking out, there is also a need to seek help from a professional, especially if the separation is headed towards divorce. You can get a divorce solicitor who will help you throughout the entire process, especially in determining asset ownership as well as issues to do with child support. And if you are looking to work on your marriage, both you are your spouse can seek help from a marriage counsellor, who will help you work through your issues.
You can take some time off – here is the thing, when going through a separation, there are a lot of things going through your head – one of them being the thought of being alone, or single. This often leads to one making some desperate decisions, which are often not good. So, you need to take time to heal! Take time to work on yourself first before doing anything else, or making any more commitments. Don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself just yet! Remember, the clearer your mind is, the better, as you will be able to make much more informed decisions.
Can a marriage survive after separation?
It depends on the specific circumstances of the said couple. Separation doesn’t always signify the end of the marriage. The reason being that there are couples that discover how important the other person was in their lives during this period. The constant bickering or the nagging may sometimes blind us to the specific reasons we fell in love in the first place, and during separation, these reasons tend to be revealed to us by circumstances. After all, absence does make the heart grow stronger, and it also helps us to process things better. So, if both partners want to work on their marriage after separation, then the marriage will survive.
How to rebuild your marriage during a separation
If you are looking to rebuild your marriage after a period of separation, here are some very effective tips on how to do so:
Communicate your desire to reconcile to your spouse – the most critical aspect to rebuilding your marriage after separation is communication. If you are not ready to give up on your marriage yet, and only consider the separation as just a break in your relationship, you need to let your spouse know. Then try to find out what your spouse’s opinion is. Remember, for you to successfully restore the marriage, both partners must sincerely want it. The best scenario would be when your spouse also views the separation as you do, as it increases the chances of a better reunion.
Try to figure out the marriage both of you want – you will need to think about what you want from the marriage this time. Maybe you can replay how your marriage has been so far, and try to figure out whether it lived up to the expectations. This way, you will know where everything went wrong, and how you can make a difference this time. You need to analyze everything that both of you have been through so far, and determine how it has changed you. This way, you will become a better version of yourself, and in turn, a better marriage.
Control your emotions – to save the marriage, you need to control your emotions. Negative emotions only make situations worse, and when you are trying to have a better marriage, you must keep them in check. Anger will never solve anything and will only damage your relationship, and the fact that you are trying to rebuild will take you back.
Remain involved with your spouse – when both of you are determined to rebuild the marriage, it is crucial that continue doing some things together as a family, even when you are separated. This is particularly so if you have kids together. You will need to decide on the model you are going to parent your children when you are separated, and in making such a decision, you can involve the kids, in need be. And in terms of your spouse’s well-being, keep in touch! This will maintain that special bond that will help in rebuilding the marriage.
Set up healthy boundaries – in as much as it is advisable to remain involved in each other’s lives, you must have healthy boundaries in place, for both of you to feel mentally, physically, and emotionally safe, respected, and valued. So, make sure that you set the ground rules that consider both parties’ needs and wishes. This way, you will be able to focus more on what matters most, which is to rebuild your relationship.
Improve yourselves together – all the things about the both of you that brought you to the situation that you are in must change. Otherwise, trying to work on your marriage with these issues still alive will be an exercise in futility. So, pick out all those issues about yourself that your partner didn’t like and try to change them. The same goes for your partner! Make yourselves better for each other for your marriage to be more functional this time.
Treat the marriage as a new relationship – for the marriage to recover after separation, both you and your partner must let go of the past, and practically start dating afresh. This will reawaken your feelings towards each other, which will really help when trying to rebuild the relationship. Talk it out with your partner, and help each other wherever possible, otherwise, something might trigger a relapse which might throw everything you have done so far down the drain.
The truth is, marriage separation can easily become a new beginning in your marriage. But both you and your spouse must be willing to repair it. It doesn’t have to always end in divorce. Just take your time and try to figure out what’s best for both of you and everyone else involved. But in the unfortunate event the separation ends in a divorce, let it be civil and amicable, and in the best interest of the kids if any. So, hire a divorce solicitor to handle your case professionally, and in a manner that favours everyone involved.