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Divorce vs. trial separation: which could be the best choice for you?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2021 | Divorce

When you and your spouse are ready to get a divorce in Maryland, you may have to wait. With certain exceptions, state law requires spouses to be voluntarily separated for at least 12 months or involuntarily for 24 months.

For many unhappily married people, this waiting period is a frustrating limbo in which they must wait to complete property division, child custody and other key matters. But for others, the time apart is an opportunity to decide what they want for their lives. Do they want the finality of divorce, or would an alternative work better?

Benefits and problems with trial separation in Bethesda

Here are some pros and cons of this government-enforced trial separation:

  • The time apart may help emotions calm, preparing you and your ex to negotiate a settlement that is reasonable and fair
  • You can reflect on what went wrong in the marriage and what you might be able to do to avoid these problems in future relationships
  • If you and your spouse are on reasonably good terms, you can informally arrange child custody and financial payments for the separation period
  • On the other hand, a trial separation is not the same as a legal separation or divorce. There may be no legally binding agreement to enforce
  • As long as you are legally married, you and your spouse will continue to accumulate marital assets — and debts. If your spouse takes on a lot of debts during the separation, those debts may belong to you too
  • You may have to share any large windfalls you get, such as a raise or bonus earned at work

Once the waiting period is up, you should be ready to proceed with your next move, whether that be divorce, legal separation or reconciliation. The first two choices are legal proceedings that require trustworthy advice and experienced representation from a divorce attorney.