Don’t Believe the Hype: Why a Temporary Separation Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

By: Carol Ann Mazza Date Posted: March 18, 202311:06 am

Don't Believe the Hype: Why a Temporary Separation Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution and When to Choose Collaborative Divorce

At some point in a relationship, a couple may find themselves at a crossroads where they're unsure about the future of their union. One common solution that many people consider is a temporary separation. However, despite its hype, it's important to note that a temporary separation is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

While some couples may benefit from a temporary separation, it's not always the best course of action. It can even do more harm than good in some cases. This article will explore when a temporary separation may work and also why a temporary separation isn't always the best solution for struggling couples. Finally, we will explore another option: Collaborative Divorce.

What is a Temporary Separation?

Before we dive into why a temporary separation may not be the best solution for every couple, let's first define what it means. A temporary separation involves taking a break from the relationship without ending it permanently. During this time, the couple may choose to live separately or spend time apart in other ways, such as by not communicating as frequently.

Reasons Why a Temporary Separation May Not Be Effective

It Can Create More Distance

While a temporary separation is an excellent way to gain perspective and work on individual issues, it can also create more distance between the couple. This distance can be physical and emotional, and it can be challenging to bridge the gap once the separation ends.

It Can Be Used as a Way to Avoid Addressing Issues

Sometimes, a temporary separation can be used to avoid addressing the underlying issues in the relationship. It can give the couple a false sense of security that they're working on their problems when, in reality, they're just putting off the hard work of actually resolving them.

It Can Lead to Resentment

If one partner is not on board with the idea of a temporary separation, it can lead to resentment and abandonment. This can be especially true if one partner is the one who suggested the separation in the first place.

It Can Create a Sense of Uncertainty

A temporary separation can create a sense of uncertainty about the future of the relationship. It can leave one or both partners wondering whether the separation will eventually lead to a permanent breakup, and this uncertainty can be very unsettling.

It Can Create Additional Stress

Going through a temporary separation can be very stressful for both partners. For example, it can be challenging to adjust to living apart or spending less time together, which can create additional stress on top of the existing problems in the relationship.

It Can Create Additional Complications

Often when couples separate, they begin living as if they are divorced. Sometimes they buy property or acquire other assets.  Sometimes they incur additional debt.  Sometimes one of them dies.  There are legal ramifications for situations such as these that occur while people are separated but not officially divorced.

When a Temporary Separation May Be Effective

When a Temporary Separation May Be Effective

While a temporary separation may not be the best solution for every struggling couple, there are some situations where it can be effective. Here are a few scenarios where a temporary separation may be a good option:

When There's a Clear Goal

If the couple decides on a clear goal for the separation, such as working on personal issues or improving communication, it can be an effective way to achieve that goal. However, both partners must be on board with the goal and are committed to working towards it.

When There's Been Infidelity

In some cases, a temporary separation can be a way for the couple to work through the aftermath of infidelity. It can give the betrayed partner space and time to heal while allowing the couple to work towards rebuilding trust.

When There's a Risk of Violence

If there's a risk of violence in the relationship, a temporary separation may be necessary for the safety of one or both partners. This can be a difficult decision to make, but it's crucial to prioritize safety above all else.  A protective or restraining order may be warranted in such a situation.

Temporary separation is not a magical solution to fix all the problems in a struggling relationship. Instead, it's vital for couples to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks before making a decision. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a temporary separation should be made carefully and with the guidance of a professional counselor or therapist.  They may wish to have a written agreement prepared by attorneys that outlines how things will go during the separation.  These professionals can help the couple evaluate whether a temporary separation is the best course of action for their unique situation.

Another Option: The Case for Collaborative Divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, there are several options available for them from which to choose. A popular option is a temporary separation, which as we have previously discussed, has limitations and may not be the best solution. However, another option that is gaining popularity is Collaborative Divorce.

Collaborative Divorce is a process in which both parties work together with a team of professionals, including attorneys, financial experts, and mental health professionals, to reach an agreement that meets the needs and goals of both of them. Unlike traditional divorce, which can often be adversarial and contentious, Collaborative Divorce focuses on open communication and cooperation. Here are some scenarios where Collaborative Divorce may be the best option for couples:

When There Are Children Involved

A Collaborative Divorce can be an excellent option if a couple has children. It allows both parents to work together to create a parenting plan that prioritizes the needs and well-being of the children. This can be especially important for couples who want to maintain a positive co-parenting relationship after the divorce.

When the Relationship Is Amicable

Collaborative Divorce can also be an excellent option for couples who have a good relationship and are committed to working together to end the marriage respectfully and positively. In addition, it can help ensure that both parties are satisfied with the outcome and that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

When the Couple Has Shared Assets

If a couple has shared assets, such as a home or investments, a Collaborative Divorce can creatively divide those assets in a way that works for that specific couple. The couple can work together with a financial expert to determine the best way to divide assets and ensure that both parties are satisfied with the outcome.

When Both Parties Want to Avoid Court

A Collaborative Divorce is also a good option for couples who want to avoid going to court. Traditional divorce can often be a lengthy and expensive process and emotionally draining for both parties. Collaborative Divorce allows couples to work together to reach an agreement outside of court, which can be much more efficient and cost-effective.

When Autonomy Is Important and Couples Want to Make Their Own Decisions

Collaborative Divorce is an out of court process that does not rely on the law.  Often couples want to make their own decisions and want to craft unique resolutions that make sense for them and that could not happen in court.  In a court divorce, the judge can only follow the law and what the law says does not make sense for everyone.

In addition to the above scenarios, Collaborative Divorce can be a good option for couples prioritizing privacy and confidentiality. Since the process occurs outside of court, it can be a more private and discreet way to end a marriage.

Get Professional Advice

Get Professional Advice

In summary, while a temporary separation may not always be the best solution for couples, Collaborative Divorce can be an excellent option. It allows couples to work together in a respectful and positive way to reach an agreement that meets the needs and goals of both parties. If you are considering divorce, it's essential to explore your options and choose the best option for you and your unique situation. Using a family law attorney experienced in Collaborative Divorce is key.

Visit or call (954)-527-4604 today for a confidential consultation with Carolann Mazza, an experienced collaborative family lawyer and Supreme Court of Florida certified family law mediator practicing in Florida since 2001. Carolann offers divorce services in South Florida in BrowardPalm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties.