Does Separation Always Lead to Divorce?
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can be Healed — the answer is no. Despite recent findings that 79 percent of separated couples do eventually divorce, Dr. Chapman offers tools for reconciliation that may help separated couples reverse the tide.
If you are trying to reconcile
Couples considering separation should begin by entering couple’s therapy. In order for treatment to be at its most effective, both partners need to commit to the process by:
- Committing to a reasonable time period for therapy, no less than four to six months
- Ending extramarital relationships that may distract from the issues at hand
- Accepting responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the marriage
Therapy can be expensive, and a couple needs to be willing and able to commit the resources to healing the marriage. As an alternative, many members of the clergy offer free counseling for couples, as do some community mental health clinics.
If you decide to separate
In the state of New York, a couple can pursue a legal separation by creating a separation agreement. The agreement must include all the terms of the separation, including spousal support, child support, time-sharing and distribution of assets. This can be every bit as complex as a divorce agreement, so many couples choose to live separately without it. It is important for couples to understand that without an agreement they have no legal recourse if their spouse spends all their joint savings or does not allow the other spouse to see their children.
If your separation leads to divorce
If the couple acknowledges that the marriage cannot be salvaged and decides to proceed with divorce, they should revisit their separation agreement with an eye toward the long term. There exist a number of options for the dissolution of marriage, varying in expense and timeline.
An experienced divorce attorney serving the Buffalo and Western New York areas can assist you with your separation or divorce agreement.