Published: October 10th, 2022/ Category: Separation
Couples, who decide to separate, but not to divorce, do so for a variety of different reasons. Some consider living apart as a kind of prelude to divorce, a vehicle for helping members of the family—adults and children—to adjust to a new “world order.” Others believe that separation will provide the time and space to rethink their relationship, even to help them work out marital issues in therapy or in mediation or by themselves with the goal of staying married and living together again in the future. Regardless of the reason for living apart, mediation offers a problem solving approach for considering areas of concern and crafting an agreement that helps make the separation period productive regardless of whether reconciliation or divorce is the end objective.
To help couples consider mediation as a planning mechanism for their separation we have compiled a list of questions most frequently posed by prospective clients.
What issues/areas are covered in mediation?
Although not all areas are applicable to every couple, the following areas are typically part of the mediation process:
How much can you afford for housing? (Is a second residence affordable?)
Where will each one live and for how long (Are you planning on signing leases or other contractual obligations?)
Is housing for both parties a joint expense? If housing is an individual expense, how are incomes separated and/or support paid?
Are furnishings to be purchased for the new residence and /or taken from the marital home?
Additional Budgetary Expenses/Concerns:
What are the budgetary expenses in each household?
How are you going to fund the expenses in addition to housing, including children’s expenses?
Who pays what bills, including outstanding liabilities?
Do you continue to put away money for retirement? For savings? For college accounts?
Where does income get deposited?
What is your estimated gross income and net income?
How are taxes paid?
Will there be a support exchange? If so, how is it calculated?
What are each parent’s individual as well as shared responsibilities for oversight of children?
What is your parenting schedule?
Are you going to commit to couples’ counseling? To individual therapy?
How long will the Agreement stay in effect?
Do Living Apart Agreements Go to Court?
No, the couple is entering into an agreement by and for themselves. The judge is not involved in determining the “goodness” or the fairness of the agreement. You should however consider having a written document signed by each of you that you commit to abiding by or to modifying if you wish to execute changes.
What If We Do Not Communicate Well?
It is the mediator’s job to help you communicate by ensuring that neither party monopolizes the discussion and that a more reticent party is helped to express ideas. The mediator should also provide information and suggest options, all in an effort to ensure that agreements are reached based on an understanding of the impact of decisions and their longer-term ramifications.
Couples who embark on new living arrangements will always benefit from structuring the terms of their “new” deal before executing the change. However, it is never too late to review living situations with the objective of improving the arrangement. Whether you enter mediation before you actually live apart or after you have separated, the problem solving nature of the mediation process and the guidance of an experienced mediator will help you to address problems and consider concerns in a safe and confidential environment.