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What is a Controlled Separation?


Mother and son in empty lounge father leaving home
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Question: What is a Controlled Separation?
What is a controlled separation and what are the benefits?

Controlled separation is a new approach to dealing with marital problems that has grown in popularity over the last few years. The ultimate goal of controlled separation is to save the marriage by working with a counselor by putting together a separation agreement with specific guidelines.

Controlled separation allows couples who are experiencing problems to live separately and, at the same time negotiate and work toward finding solutions to the marital problems. It has been found to be successful when one spouse was adamant about divorcing. Putting distance between the spouses and individual work with a counselor helps spouses see things from a different perspective.

There are always guidelines to follow that are written up in contract form. The guidelines depend on the individual couple and what problems they are facing. Below are examples of basic guidelines a controlled separation agreement might include.

  • Set a time limit. Preferably three to six months

  • No attorneys. It is agreed that neither spouse will file for divorce during the specified time frame.

  • Someone moves out. Spouses decide which one will move out of the home. If at all possible the spouse with the larger income.

  • Splitting finances. All monies should be split in a fair and just way.

  • Welfare of the children. The children should not be neglected in anyway. There is a regular visitation schedule and if agreed between spouses, family outings.

  • Keeping it confidential. An agreement as to who is told and who isn’t.

  • Spending time together. If the couple wants to see each other outside the counselor’s office this will be negotiated. Dinners together where the marital problems are not discussed can oten help couples reconnect emotionally.

  • Having intimate relations. Whether or not to continue with the sexual relationship.

  • Terminating the contract. It will be decided whether one spouse can terminate the contract or they both have to come to agreement.

The list below summarizes some of the benefits of a controlled separation and a structured separation agreement.

  • Puts a stop to the fighting.

  • Gives each spouse the space needed to cool off.

  • Keeps the spouses from acting on impulse.

  • Spouses get to experiment with living alone and having more freedom.

  • A chance to grow and assess your role in the marital problems.

  • A true test of how you feel about your partner once you are not seeing them regularly.

  • If the couple does not reconcile it gives them a chance to prepare of an amicable divorce.

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