Separation in marriage or in a non-married relationship is a time of great uncertainty for most people. At Detente you can restore order to chaos by mediating a fair and workable separation agreement. We cover things that generally are not addressed or resolved in therapy and couples' or pastoral counseling like financial and living arrangements, child support, spousal support, and child custody while each of you takes a "timeout" to regroup. That's part of what makes our services so different and useful when you are not ready to divorce.
Distressed spouses or unmarried couples who cannot financially afford divorce or to live separately, or who want to split emotionally but need to stay married for health insurance, cultural, or religious reasons, may find a pressure release valve in the form of a short or long term contractual separation agreement.***
To be enforceable, the separation agreement should be in writing, signed by both spouses, entered into without coercion or undue influence, and fair and equitable. Spouses may also join in a mediated post-nuptial agreement that divides property and debts.
Benefits of Marriage or Partnership Separation Mediation
- Take time and space to try to fix money, parenting, mental health, or addiction problems
- Improve communication to explore marriage reconciliation
- Design a plan as an alternative to divorce for couples who no longer want to be married but cannot afford to be apart
- Jointly structure a temporary or transitional custody and parenting plan for children
- Test drive parenting plans, living arrangements, and financial strategies before divorcing or as a path to saving the marriage
Remember, however, there is no legal marriage separation in Texas. The law and creditors will continue to treat you and your spouse as married until you are divorced whether you are living under the same roof or not. That means assets and debts either of you acquire while you are married but separated are still presumed to be community property unless you prove (or agree) they are not.
The good news is a spouse or partner can still move out; but separation done badly can lead to resentment and a hostile divorce or break up. On the other hand, separation done right with a negotiated separation agreement restores order so you can better focus on what is important to you to accomplish by your separation - whether that is preparation for divorce or trying to reconcile.
***In "Marriage Economy: 'I Couldn't Afford to Get Divorced'", studies showed as unemployment rises, the divorce rate goes down, and domestic violence goes up. Researchers found money problems and feeling trapped caused marital distress that was strongly associated with an increased risk of domestic violence.