Options Besides Divorce

By Jim Thomas

As the song goes, breaking up is so very hard to do. Divorce can be financially and emotionally devastating, but it is not the only option when a marriage flounders. Whether you believe you might save your marriage or your marriage is broken beyond repair, there are alternatives to divorce. To save a marriage, you can try counseling or mediation. To avoid a divorce but go your separate ways, you can opt for a trial separation, legal separation or a "non-divorce," sometimes known as a parallel marriage.

As the song goes, breaking up is so very hard to do. Divorce can be financially and emotionally devastating, but it is not the only option when a marriage flounders. Whether you believe you might save your marriage or your marriage is broken beyond repair, there are alternatives to divorce. To save a marriage, you can try counseling or mediation. To avoid a divorce but go your separate ways, you can opt for a trial separation, legal separation or a "non-divorce," sometimes known as a parallel marriage.

Non-Divorce

A non-divorce describes a relationship between married people who decide to continue the marriage while living as passionless roommates. As "Smart Money" magazine states, "While there are no hard statistics, some divorce experts say they're seeing more of this unromantic phenomenon, driven by three big financial factors." The expense of a divorce, cost of creating two separate residences and possibility of one spouse losing health insurance coverage all mitigate against divorce. Some couples write up an informal "marriage continuation" plan to specify their living arrangement, which can take the form of agreeing to live in separate areas of the house.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Trial Separation

A trial separation allows a couple to live apart while pondering the question of divorce. A couple may consider a trial separation of six months, long enough to get used to living separately. There are advantages and disadvantages to a trial separation, according to experts. The main benefit is that a trial separation can continue for as long as you want. The main disadvantage is that it leaves your marriage in a state of limbo. You should negotiate subjects, such as the use of bank accounts and credits cards, whether you will date others and how often you will re-evaluate the relationship.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is a more formal option. You must file papers with a court that contain the terms of the separation. If you have children, agreements concerning custody and child support payments are paramount. Legal separation can work well for couples who have financial or moral reasons to avoid divorce, even though their relationship as spouses is at an end. For example, your religious beliefs may prohibit divorce or your insurance coverage may end if you divorce your spouse. In essence, a legal separation has all the elements of a divorce without the actual decree. The length of legal separations are determined by state law. For example, Indiana limits legal separations to one year. In Washington state, you can remain legally separated for an indefinite period of time.

Considerations

If you are trying to save your marriage, some form of counseling might help you mend the rift. It is important not to wait too long to seek help, or give up before counseling has a chance to work. Another possibility is marital mediation, using a professional mediator to assist the couple in resolving their own disputes. Mediation is particularly helpful when the husband and wife disagree about such issues as parenting, household chores and relationships with family or friends. Mediation often helps repair the couple's ability to communicate with each other.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Does a Divorce Mediator Do Separations?

References

Related articles

What Can You Cite in a Divorce Besides Irreconcilable Differences?

Before a court will grant you a divorce, you've got to present a valid reason why your marriage should end. This reason is considered your "grounds" for divorce. All states recognize some version of no-fault grounds for divorce, too. In these instances, you do not have to blame your spouse for wrongdoing in order to terminate your marriage. Irreconcilable differences is a common no-fault ground, but it’s not available in all states so you may have to cite something else instead. The majority of states offer fault grounds for divorce while the remaining states and the District of Columbia are "pure" no-fault jurisdictions.

When a Spouse Will Not Agree to a Divorce in Maryland

Sometimes, ending a marriage is not something both spouses want. While divorce may be the right choice in the eyes of one spouse, the other may think it's a bad idea and refuse to participate or assist in the divorce process. Although an uncooperative spouse cannot stop a divorce, his actions can sometimes delay and frustrate the proceedings. Luckily, in Maryland, there are ways to overcome these roadblocks and get the divorce you want, and there's nothing your spouse can do to stop it.

The Different Types of Divorce in Louisiana

Choosing to divorce your spouse is never an easy decision. But knowing how to navigate the process will help ease stress and make the transition from married to single life more manageable. In Louisiana, you have the option of filing for divorce on either no-fault or fault grounds. You may seek a divorce in the state if either you or your spouse have been living there for at least six months. If you entered into a covenant marriage in Louisiana, a few additional steps may be required to complete your divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Getting a Legal Separation in Arkansas

Arkansas is a little different from most states when it comes to marriage and divorce. There are two types of marriage ...

The Advantages of a Divorce Mediator

Much of the uncertainty involved in divorce is minimized if couples reach common ground. Although only courts have the ...

Cancelling a Divorce in Mediation

Divorcing couples sometimes attempt to save money on attorney fees by hiring a professional mediator to help them ...

What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation Vs. Divorce?

Legal separation and divorce are two options for married couples who wish to part ways. According to the Centers for ...

Browse by category