Precautions for a Marriage Separation

by Shannon Philpott

When a marriage sours, it is common to experience a variety of emotions. While coping with anger, resentment, sadness and jealousy, each partner must weigh options with a clear mind. Before pursuing divorce, couples often choose to separate while sorting through emotions, property and custody arrangements. But first, it is important to know the specifics of legal separation.


Divorce is irreversible, but legal separation can be reversed, according to experts at If a marriage falters but there is hope for reconciliation, separation gives a couple time to work on the relationship. But with legal separation, many decisions are final. Just as a judge rules on custody, property and assets during a divorce, these arrangements can be finalized during legal separation, too. Put in as much consideration during separation as you would during divorce.

Time Constraints

A separation gives couples the option to contemplate their marriage while taking a much-needed break. But in many states, legal separation can be converted into a divorce within two years, according to The Wood Law Group in Oregon. If couples choose to wait longer than two years to reconcile or divorce, additional paperwork is often necessary to finalize marriage or divorce status.


It’s no secret that divorce can be costly. Although many assume that divorce is more expensive than separation, this assumption is not always true. During a legal separation, couples pay attorney fees, court costs and mediation services when determining division of assets, alimony, child support and custody agreements, according to professionals at Some states allow separated couples to claim marriage tax benefits, but other states do not, thus reducing each spouse's refund.

Family Challenges

Many couples separate to allow children time to adjust, according to law professionals at Families experience a roller coaster of emotions during divorce or separation. If children are involved, a separation may confuse them or give them hope that their parents will reconcile. When choosing separation, be open and honest about plans for the relationship. If divorce is inevitable, avoid prolonging the process or providing false hope to children and family members.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

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