Tips for Living Together During Separation Before Divorce
Legal separation is not recognized in Georgia, and there is no legal requirement that you must live separately prior to getting a divorce. Even so, you can still be separated. Being separated means you are no longer acting as a married couple but are not legally divorced.
In Georgia, if you are in a bona fide state of separation (not having sex with your spouse), you might be eligible to pursue a separate maintenance case. Separate maintenance does not end your marriage.
Living together during a separation may be difficult, but it is something people might choose to do for the following reasons:
- Children: If you have children, you may choose to live together while separated. Living together makes parenting more manageable and can prevent children from suffering because their parents live separately.
- Financial hardship: If one spouse makes more than another and living separately would affect everyone’s lifestyle, it may be beneficial to continue living together while separated.
Living together will likely be complicated and stressful at times, regardless of why you choose to live together during your separation.
How to Handle Living Together During Separation
One of the goals of living together while separated is to maintain a peaceful cohabitation environment. To keep the peace, you should do the following:
- Set boundaries: When you first decide to live together while separated, you should set clear ground rules to which you both must adhere. For example, you may decide that neither person can bring new partners into the home. However, the boundaries should be tailored to each of your comfort zones and personalities. Don’t let other people outside your relationship influence your decisions. Do what feels right for you.
- Keep a budget: You are no longer acting as a married couple. Instead, you will be more like roommates. Therefore, you should each have a budget, and each person should pay for agreed-upon predetermined expenses. It is vital that this agreement is fair to both of you, so don’t take budgeting lightly.
- Separate your finances: If you and your spouse had joint accounts during your marriage, you should get separate bank accounts when you separate. Money always creates issues, and you want to avoid commingling funds and causing unnecessary arguments.
- Avoid sleeping together: Naturally, you will have moments of attraction when living with your spouse, but you should avoid sleeping together. If you sleep together while a separate maintenance case is pending, the case will be voided. Additionally, sleeping with your spouse could make the separation more difficult and lead to unneeded complexities in your otherwise peaceful environment.
- Co-parenting rules: As in a divorce, you must decide how you want to handle co-parenting. The issues that arise from co-parenting will be made easier because you still live together, but there will be problems. A plan can relieve some of the tension around co-parenting and make the children feel more comfortable.
- Allocate chores: During the marriage, one person may have been more inclined to clean up after the other, but now as roommates, you shouldn’t have to pick up after another adult. You should discuss how chores will be divided and handled to avoid contention surrounding chores.
Formal Legal Separation Agreements
If you do not think having informal rules will be enough for you and your spouse, you can enter a written separation agreement. The separation agreement can discuss anything that will impact your family, such as:
Separation agreements require both parties to work together to reach a mutual agreement concerning anything that may impact their family. If the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, they may file a separate maintenance action.
Separate Maintenance in Georgia
In Georgia, those separated from their spouse can file a civil action for separate maintenance. Separate maintenance can cover spousal support that is similar to alimony but is not considered alimony because the parties are still legally married. To determine separate maintenance, the court will look at the following:
- Duration of the marriage
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Each spouse’s age
- Each spouse’s financial situation
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including child care, education, and career-building of the other spouse
After reviewing all the relevant facts, a court will outline each spouse’s obligations during the separation, or it can determine neither party has obligations to the other.
Contact a Separation Attorney Today
Separations can be difficult without the stress of living together. However, if you and your spouse are considering living together during your separation, having an attorney help you through the process can protect your rights. Contact a skilled Atlanta divorce attorney from Kessler & Solomiany, LLC to discuss your legal options surrounding your separation. You can reach us by calling (404) 688-8810 or contacting us online.