Trial Separation: 5 Helpful Tips You Need To Know

trial separation | Melbourne Family Lawyers

A trial separation is a period where a couple decides to live apart while still being legally married.

Unlike a legal separation, which involves lawyers and formal agreements, a trial separation is an informal arrangement made between the partners.

The goal is often to evaluate the relationship’s issues more objectively, understand the emotional and financial implications of a potential divorce, and decide whether reconciliation is possible.

It can serve as a cooling-off period, allowing couples to work on their issues without the emotional intensity they experience while living together.

Tips for a Trial Separation

  1. Seek Professional Help: Consult a couples’ counselor for objective advice on improving your relationship. This can help you set ground rules and avoid costly emotional and financial mistakes.
  2. Set Clear Expectations: Discuss what the separation will look like. Will you still go on dates? How will you divide finances? Being transparent can prevent misunderstandings.
  3. Communication is Key: Decide how often and through what means you will communicate. Whether it’s daily calls or weekly updates, ensure you’re on the same page.
  4. Financial Planning: Discuss how you’ll manage finances during this period. Who will pay the bills? Will you maintain a joint account?
  5. Temporary Parenting Plan: If kids are involved, establish a quick parenting plan that outlines custody arrangements and visitation schedules.

Trial Separation Benefits

  1. Personal Growth: The time apart allows you to work on personal issues, whether it’s improving your frustration tolerance or addressing a substance abuse problem.
  2. Improved Communication: Living apart can help you understand your triggers and communication patterns, offering a chance to improve them.
  3. Appreciation for Partner: Being apart might make you realise the value your partner adds to your life, which can be a catalyst for reconciliation.

Trial Separation Risks

  1. Growing Apart: The time apart might make you comfortable with a life more conducive to being single, making reconciliation difficult.
  2. Unresolved Issues: Problems related to trust, money, or other specific issues might not be resolved when you live apart.
  3. Impact on Children: If kids are involved, the separation can be confusing and emotionally taxing for them.

Trial Separation Checklist and Rules


  • Decide the duration of the trial separation.
  • Plan the financial aspects, including bill payments.
  • Discuss custody and visitation if children are involved.
  • Agree on communication methods and frequency.


  • Stick to the agreed-upon financial plans.
  • Adhere to the communication schedule.
  • Do not use the separation as a means to manipulate your partner.
  • Reevaluate the relationship at predetermined intervals.

Helping Our Clients: What is Trial Separation

We recently had the privilege of advising a mother of two who came to Melbourne Family Lawyers with questions about initiating a trial separation from her spouse.

Understanding the urgency and sensitivity of the situation, we promptly scheduled a confidential consultation.

During this session, we discussed her primary concerns, particularly focusing on child custody and asset division.

We conducted a thorough legal assessment, breaking down the complexities surrounding trial separations, including procedural steps and potential outcomes.

Armed with this knowledge, the client felt empowered to make well-informed decisions for her family’s future.

Our expertise enabled her to prioritise her children’s well-being while considering her financial stability.

It was a complex and emotionally charged period for the client, and we’re proud to say that our diligent and professional approach played a pivotal role in guiding her through it.

A trial separation can be a pivotal juncture in a relationship, offering both opportunities for growth and potential pitfalls.

While it can serve as a valuable period for self-reflection and reassessment, it’s crucial to approach it with a well-thought-out plan and open communication.

Given the complex emotional, financial, and legal aspects, seeking professional legal advice is highly recommended.

A legal expert can provide tailored guidance to navigate the intricacies of separation, ensuring that both parties are protected and well-informed.

With the proper support and preparation, a trial separation can be a constructive step toward reconciliation or a more amicable parting of ways.

Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.

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