You and your spouse need to take some time apart. It may end in divorce. You just don't know yet. But you need a break.

This is common. Don't feel bad that you're not sure if you should end the marriage or not. In some cases, a trial separation is easier. It leaves the door open so that you can easily get back together and patch things up, and it also lets you find out if divorce is what you want. If you're on the fence, the separation may help paint a clear picture.

If you do decide to take a break, though, it's wise to use a legal separation, rather than just having one spouse unofficially move out.

Important Issues

First off, a legal separation gives you official answers to questions you have about important issues. What are your child custody obligations? Does your spouse need to provide financial support? How will any benefits be used or divided? How will you handle the sudden cost of having a second place to live? The legal separation can address each issue in turn and provide a court order that gives you both clarity and security.

It's also important to consider the division of assets, especially if you do end up getting divorced. What can your spouse take with him or her to the new apartment? Moreover, if you do divorce in a few months, does property obtained while you're married count as marital or separate property? If you're technically still together, it may be marital property and subject to division; with a legal separation, it may be separate property that you both own yourselves.

The Process

The key is to remember that this is still a legal process, even if you're not yet sure you want to get divorced. Take the proper steps to protect yourself and make sure your rights are respected.

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