Structured Separation – A temporary, time-limited separation conducted with clear and appropriate guidelines for the purpose of rebuilding the marriage. It is understood that at the end of the separation, one or both spouses might choose to end the marriage if the separation is not successful. It should be done under the leadership of someone like your MC with weekly MC Sessions.
1. Length of separation: Set a time limit, preferably 3-6 months.
2. No attorneys: It is agreed that neither spouse will file for divorce during the specified time frame. Both parties have to feel safe and that they will not be blind sided with a divorce filing.
3. Terminating the contract: Decide whether one spouse can terminate the contract or they both have to come to agreement. But neither party will unilaterally terminate the contract and not inform the other.
4. Living separately: Spouses decide which one will move out of the home. If at all possible the spouse with the larger income.
5. Financial Decisions: All monies should be split in a fair and just manner. Pay all bills first. Then split what is left 50/50. If one parent has the child more, then figure out child support according to state guidelines and agree to pay this on an informal basis.
No large purchases (over $200) or debt will be incurred without the express knowledge and agreement of the other spouse. No joint assets will be sold during the separation without the express knowledge and agreement of the other spouse.
Some couples will decide to continue joint checking accounts, savings accounts, and payment of bills. Other couples will completely separate financial aspects of the relationship.... If there is any chance for [significant] disagreement, each person could take out half of the assets and open separate accounts.
6. Confidentiality: An agreement as to who is told and who isn’t. What are you both going to tell other people? Make sure your message is agreed upon by both of you.
7. MC Sessions: Agree to only talk about all the hard stuff and the bad stuff at weekly MC Sessions. Here is where you sort out problems that have occurred during the week as well as going back over the old stuff that got you to this point.”
8. Quality Time to Be Spent Together
1-2 weekly dates, just the two of you. Start with no more than 1 hour each. Expand the time as you both feel safe.
1 weekly family date that includes your son. Again start with the 1 hour each and expand as time goes on.
Separate the irritation of your issues and daily life from your selves as former loves. You need a list of taboo subjects.. no talking about marital problems/issues, the affair, money, etc. Only positive fund things. The point is to do something that is fun and enjoyable, and to end before the good time gets ruined.
9. Chat time: If you want schedule chat time to spend together during the week. The time and length of each call would be decided in advance. Again, the point is to eliminate opportunities for arguing.
10. Administrative Time: Weekly schedule to talk: administrative calls, where you only talk about business or kids-stuff. The time and length of each call would be decided in advance. Again, the point is to eliminate opportunities for arguing
11. Intimate relations. Whether or not to continue with the sexual relationship.
12. Personal Growth Experiences: You each can include as many personal growth experiences as feasible, practical, and helpful.
13. Relationships and Involvements Outside of the Relationship: No social involvement, romantic, and sexual relationships outside of this relationship.
14. Child Custody/Time-Sharing. Establish a joint agreement who your son will be with on which days with as close to a 50/50 split as possible. How/where/when exchanges will take place.
15. Motor Vehicles: Ownership and titles not be changed until a decision has been made about the future of the marriage.
16. Privacy and Issues of Trust:
• Both must agree about what the children will be told about this separation and the marriage relationship.
• Access to the others’ mail, email, voicemail, accounts, other’s places of residence, etc.
• What is the level of transparency needed to help rebuild trust. This must be the same for both parties.
• Are unannounced spontaneous visits allowed?
• Is monitoring/tracking the other part allowed?