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Couples Trying Semi-Separation Before Divorce

Posted on in Legal Separation

Couples Trying Semi-Separation Before DivorceSome couples who are considering divorce choose separation as an alternative. A legal separation involves many of the same financial and parenting provisions of divorce without dissolving a marriage. During the separation, spouses have time to consider whether they want to go through with a divorce. A full separation is still a legal process that involves creating a formal agreement that a court must approve. Instead, couples may try an in-house separation, which some call semi-separating. Spouses who semi-separate can behave as if they have separated without the obligations of a legal separation.

Forms of Semi-Separation

Spouses have several ways that they can live separately within the same residence. A court may recognize a couple as being legally separated while living together, as long as they make an effort to divide their finances and responsibilities. Semi-separating eases a couple into a more complete separation by starting with their social interaction. Semi-separation may occur in phases, such as:

  • Sleeping in separate rooms;
  • Using separate areas of the house;
  • Dividing time with children; and
  • Eating separately.


Semi-separating, rather than a legal separation, can have practical benefits for spouses:

  • They do not have to go through the legal process of getting separated;
  • They can continue to share costs, such as housing and utilities;
  • They can choose how to separate themselves without having to satisfy legal standards for separation;
  • They and their children are transitioned into the lifestyle change of a full separation or divorce; and
  • They do not need to cancel an agreement if they decide to end the separation.


Semi-separation is not a viable option for everyone, as there are many shortcomings:

  • Semi-separation can be an informal agreement that does not include the protections of a legal separation. A court-approved agreement can order a spouse to pay a fair share of living expenses and abide by a parenting schedule.
  • Even a legal separation is only a temporary measure while a couple decides whether to divorce. When a marriage has degraded to the point that divorce is inevitable, separation will only prolong the process.
  • Creating separate living arrangements in the same home requires cooperation between spouses. Those who can no longer communicate may struggle to agree on such an arrangement.
  • The toxicity of continuing to live together may outweigh the financial benefits. When a marriage becomes abusive, living in separate residences may be healthiest for the spouses and children.

Deciding on Separation

Spouses must honestly assess the state of their relationship when choosing between separation and divorce. A Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can inform you of the benefits of each option. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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