Sometimes when a couple hits a rough patch, they separate and try to decide whether to reconcile or divorce. A trial separation – sometimes now called “a marriage timeout” – may give partners who cannot get along time to clear the air. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Very often the separated couple enlist a marriage therapist who mediates between the two spouses.
Marriage timeouts have no effect on property rights. The separated couple enjoys the same legal rights as married people living together. Money and property remain jointly owned, according to the law and rules of the state where the couple live.
Trial separations are often “informal” and generally there is no written separation agreement. Unlike divorces, which are recorded, no one knows how many trial separations happen in a given state because the jurisdiction is not involved. During the time apart, the couple may see each other, try marriage counseling, and see if their marriage can be saved.
Couples contemplating a timeout must decide which spouse leaves and where he or she goes. The spouses must work out the logistics of maintaining the household and child visitation. Very often one leaves the marital residence, and the other stays put.The separation can end like the closing of the waters or it can become permanent, with a firm date of separation and a period of time that is preliminary to it.