In some states, you must legally separate from your spouse for a specified period as a condition for even a no-fault divorce. Georgia has no such formal requirement. 

Nevertheless, there are legal reasons why a couple that plans to divorce might maintain an “in-home separation” household prior to filing for divorce. It is important that you do this right to secure the maximum benefits.

Why Bother With In-Home Separation? 

Various considerations might render it impractical for one spouse to move out of the family home prior to filing for divorce. You might not be able to afford it, for example. Alternatively, you might want your children to be able to finish the school year without disruption. 

Following are some of the potential legal benefits of in-home separation.

Division of Debts and Assets

The date of separation can be significant in distinguishing between marital property and separate property. A court might view assets and debts acquired between separation and divorce as separate property that is not subject to division in the divorce.

Alimony (Spousal Support)

Under certain circumstances, the length of the marriage can affect alimony awards. A court might count the marriage as ending at the date of separation rather than the date of divorce. 

Moreover, the spouses’ financial arrangements during the separation might also provide the court with an indication of what might be fair regarding alimony issues.

Child Custody and Child Support

The living arrangements and parental responsibilities that the spouses assume during the separation can establish a status quo that courts might consider when they decide on child custody and child support arrangements. 

Courts try to minimize disruption to children’s lives, even at the expense of disruption to the parents’ lives. If the spouses establish a workable pattern during the separation period, the court might decide to stick with it.

Abandonment or Desertion

If one of the spouses were to move out, they might affect the equitable distribution of marital assets to the disadvantage of the spouse who moved out.

Amicable Divorce 

The separation period might allow the spouses time to negotiate aspects of the divorce settlement, such as property division, child custody, and child support. An amicable agreement can speed up the divorce process and costs. This strategy might backfire, however, by increasing hostility in less amicable relationships.

All in all, in-home separation could provide a practical basis for establishing temporary arrangements that could influence permanent decisions later on.

“Best Practices” for In-Home Separation

It is virtually impossible to overemphasize the extent to which every situation is different. Nevertheless, it is possible to specify some general guidelines for in-home separation that can maximize its potential benefits.

  1. Use separate bedrooms, both during sleeping and waking times. Suspend your conjugal relationship.
  2. Don’t share meals.
  3. Open separate bank accounts.
  4. Divide the bills and clarify financial responsibilities. It might sound silly when you’re living in the same home, but set up child custody and visitation schedules and stick to them. Remember, the details of these terms might convince the divorce court to declare this division permanent.
  5. Create a written separation agreement that you both sign. This agreement should spell out the terms of your in-home separation relationship. 
  6. Establish clear boundaries concerning parenting responsibilities.
  7. Set up a personal space for each spouse that the other spouse is not to enter if the architecture of your home permits this.
  8. Consider counseling or mediation to resolve any lingering conflicts, especially conflicts about the terms of your divorce. The more you agree on, the more smoothly the divorce is likely to go.
  9. Write out a formal divorce agreement towards the end of your separation period. Your lawyer can help you with this.

Do not end in-home separation unless one spouse moves out or you reconcile and cancel your plans for divorce.

Talk to a Family Lawyer Before You Make Any Major Decisions

Treat the foregoing as guidelines subject to revisions based on your individual circumstances and priorities. Contact a lawyer before you file for divorce, not after. You’re going to need separate lawyers, and the two lawyers you use cannot be part of the same law firm.

Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, contact our legal team at Crystal Wright Law and schedule your consultation today.

We serve all through Lawrenceville, Georgia in Gwinnett County and its surrounding areas. Visit our law firm today at

Crystal Wright Law
440 S. Perry Street, Suite 105
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(404) 594-2143