2023 Separation Lifestyle Page

DIVORCE FACT   According to a study by Ohio State University, 79% of separated couples end up getting a divorce.

Change your life

Separation can have a major effect on your lifestyle. Relationship issues, legal decisions and financial challenges make your everyday life complicated.  Hopefully, you will find our Separation Lifestyle Guide helpful in navigating life while separated.  


Co-habitation while separated

Are you and your spouse sharing a home while separated?  While many states do not recognize a same-home separation to satisfy the waiting period to divorce; many couples find the living expenses and convenience of child custody better when couples remain in the same home with one spouse residing in a separate area (such as the basement or guest room).  

Separation agreement

Establish a separation agreement that includes details of the living situation.  It's usually very similar to a divorce settlement agreement and is used, in most cases, as the basis to develop your final agreement.  It can be established, in many states, as a notarized contract, prepared by both spouses and/or an attorney.  But, for more efficient enforcement, it's often attached to the final decree.  Consult a local attorney for more information regarding laws in your state as they apply to your separation circumstances.


It's important for each spouse to respect the other's privacy and try to maintain some distance for an effective separation period. If you are separated for the purpose of divorce; you should begin to develop a new independent lifestyle.  Use this period to prepare for one spouse's eventual move and determine a sound financial solution to the cover your expenses when this happens.


Make sure your children understand why things are different since you and your spouse are separated so that there are fewer misunderstandings about why you will not be with them, together.  However, this opportunity of living together while separated will help them adjust to their mom and dad eventually divorcing and living in separate residences.

Set goals

If you are working on your marriage and need some space but wish to maintain the same residence, then you both should discuss very specific goals and stick with them.  Otherwise, the separation is not going to be effective and will be more like a long argument.  Set a period of time to try to bring the marriage out of the red zone before deciding to proceed with divorce.  

Separation to improve the marriage 

Separation is a good idea when a marriage has reached an impasse and both spouses would like to stay married. You should immediately seek counseling and initiate proactive measures to improve the marriage so that the separation is less likely to end in divorce. If you simply separate without working on the marriage; the likelihood of improving communication, understanding your spouse's perspective and accepting each other's imperfections will be negligible or worsened by the separation. Stay positive and give you and your spouse time to miss each other. This is the opportunity to fall in love with your spouse all over again.  But it takes time and patience.  

Improve your own happiness

Part of the experience should be about each of you rediscovering your own independent characteristics.  Since you will not have a romantic relationship for the separation period, you will have time to focus on things you formerly didn't have time to do before.  Slowly introduce your spouse to some of these new activities and your spouse should do the same.  It provides a new relationship that includes more of the positive aspects of the person each of you have become, rather than who you were when you first met.

Set a specified amount of time to remain separated

Do not extend your separation too far out.  If the marriage is not improving despite a reasonable, set period of time while separated, it may be time to consider a divorce.  Time is precious and you shouldn't spend it on a relationship that is not improving despite your best efforts.

This doesn't mean that if progress is being made, but slower than originally established, the time period can't be extended.  Only you and your spouse can determine how long to give it.  An experienced counselor can help you.

Financial challenges when separated

With two households, attorney's fees and moving expenses both spouses will feel the pangs of the separation.  Usually one spouse will do much better than the other, statistically that is the husband.  Despite alimony, child support and maintenance, many may find they are unable to maintain the same lifestyle as when married.

While the emotional hardship makes it difficult to think about money, you must secure means to keep up with your financial obligations and then establish a way to get back to the lifestyle you and your children are most comfortable.

Short term

Most spouses going through a separation will have more expenses.  Many will go through financial difficulties as a result.  You could do the following to improve your immediate financial well being:

Long term

Evaluate your current job and reinvest your time in improving your performance to achieve a promotion or raise, go back to school for a degree or certificate towards a better career, establish a settlement agreement for your divorce that increases your support incrementally.

Emotional issues while separated

Just as in divorce, the emotional trauma of a marriage separation can be extremely difficult.  It is good to understand the stages of divorce as they absolutely overlap when separating for the intent of divorce.  The stages of divorce represent the emotional divorce rather than the legal.  The stages vary for each person in that one stage may last for most of the separation period for one person, while another person may get through the same stage in a week.

Take it slow

It is best not to rush each stage and to properly deal with the associated emotional issue(s) or behaviors of each stage so that you do not find yourself reverting back to an earlier stage due to denial, risky behaviors or habits that may cause you to think you are emotionally healed. Counseling is helpful in processing the many emotions during separation. 

If you are separated to improve your marriage, you will still experience a great deal of challenges that include many of the same emotions and feelings as in divorce.  You will want to properly express these emotions with the help of a trained therapist individually as well as in marriage counseling.  Part of your goal will be to express, empathize, forgive and renew.  You will also want to establish your own goals to improving the relationship and individual happiness.  Make sure you and your spouse are in agreement on these goals and make sure to share them with your counselor. 

Refer to our DMK Directory for help locating a counselor or therapist in your area.

Relationship issues when separated 

The average first marriage lasts approximately eight years.  After being married for many years it is likely that a new single lifestyle may include some lonely days and nights.  The separation period usually lasts about 6-12 months before you can file for divorce, then the average divorce in the United States lasts about another year until the final settlement is signed and the divorce is final.  

Problems of dating while separated 

In most states, once you are legally separated you could establish a new relationship with someone without the threat of adultery.  However, you are still married and a new relationship could increase tension with your soon-to-be-ex and cause delays or issues that could affect requests for changes to the alimony, support or custody.  A live-in boyfriend or girlfriend could absolutely affect or nullify previously agreed upon support or custody.  It can also affect support issues since the live-in boyfriend or girlfriend can affect the total household income used by the court to determine support figures.

It may cost you

While it seems irrational or costly to cause added delays out of spite, when emotions run high and love turns bitter, people can say and do anything.   They can cause added litigation just to hurt the other.  So, for the sake of the most efficient and inexpensive divorce, it is best to abstain from a relationship until the divorce is final.  

Time to recover

The time it takes to get a divorce is better spent on reestablishing your self esteem, healthy outlook and improved outlook for your future.  This time will help you determine the things you did right in a relationship and things you would like to improve.  It will also help you begin to establish the type of relationship and person you would like to meet when you are ready to start dating again.  

Relationship with your spouse

Do not have a physical relationship with your spouse if you are committed to the divorce.  It can cause issues that can affect your legal divorce, and the emotions of both spouses.  You may be responding to your loneliness and boredom more than the desire to be with someone you have already committed to leave.

However, it isn't uncommon for a couple to have mixed emotions following a break-up and during separation.  If you have a sexual encounter or briefly rekindle things with your spouse and realize it isn't what you want, then you should explain to him/her that you think it was a mistake and wish to continue to move towards a divorce. 

Do not let him/her talk you back into the relationship if you truly feel this is not the person you want to be with any longer.  It will only delay the inevitable and make you resentful of your spouse. 

Own it

Only you can take responsibility for your happiness.  You should also take responsibility for your bad choices.  This means that when someone is talking you into a direction you don't want, they are selling you something that you pay for with your own personal happiness.  It's your purchase, your responsibility and your right to say, "no".          -OurDMK.com


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