September 26, 2018
The emotional pain and stress of a marital separation can vary depending on the situation. If your spouse is abusive the separation may be welcome but if you still love your spouse and feel there’s just something missing, something that needs to be worked out, that feeling of “we’re so close yet so far” it can be a tough time. If you think you need time away from your marriage and live in the Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Harrisonburg areas, Cravens & Noll can help.
In Virginia to get a divorce, there needs to be grounds for it but they don’t have to be fault based grounds (like adultery, felony conviction, cruelty, desertion or abandonment). You can use no fault grounds if you don’t have any fault ground or you do, but would rather have a no fault divorce. To use grounds for a no fault divorce, you have to be separated for a year (or six months if you don’t have minor children and you have a signed agreement in place).
Separation can be a stepping stone to a divorce or a time out that’s needed to repair a damaged relationship. To make the most of this time, here are some suggestions,
- What do you want? Do you want a divorce eventually? Do you want time to see if you can turn the relationship around? You need to be honest with yourself and to your spouse about what you really want. Listen to each other without blaming or arguing.
- Give each other time. Separation can be painful. Your emotions may range from looking forward to a new start to bitterness, anger or hopelessness. Take time to process whatever feelings come up and work through them in your own way. If you think you’re making progress, take more time away than what’s needed to file for a divorce. There’s no hurry.
- Make agreements for everything including bank accounts, bills, living arrangement for your children and insurance issues. Discuss whether dating would be appropriate. If you’re heading towards a divorce, it may not be a big deal. If one of you thinks staying married may be in the cards, dating may be a deal breaker. Talk to an attorney before making a formal agreement.
- Be as kind as you can. Tensions can run high during a separation. You may be close to the edge and fall into old habits of fighting and sniping at each other. Try to let it go. Whether the marriage survives or not, more tension and aggravation won’t do either of you any good.
- Don’t try to change your spouse. If he or she hasn’t changed while you dated or during your marriage, don’t expect it during a separation. If you spouse can’t be on time for anything, lacks much interest in your kids or works too many hours, it will probably continue. Be accepting except if those habits include physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Draw boundaries.
- Be honest with your kids. Unless your kids are very young, they know what’s going on even if they can’t understand everything. Be as honest as you can with them, tell them they’re loved by you and your spouse. What you should skip is dragging your spouse through the mud or blaming him or her for the marriage’s problems. Your kids have enough to deal with, don’t make them pawns in a game to punish your spouse.
- Take care of yourself. Talk to your most trusted friends or family members. Tell them what would be helpful to you right now. See a therapist if you are having a hard time managing your feelings. Your life will probably be very busy and stressful as you move into separation, especially if you have kids. Take some time off to look after yourself each day, even if it’s only fifteen minutes to cool off, focus and think.
If you live in the Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Harrisonburg areas and you think your marriage might end in a divorce and want to discuss how a separation would work, call us at 804-330-9220 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation. We can discuss your situation, your legal rights and your best options for moving forward.