Separated But Un-divorced: Thrifty? Or Bad for the Kids?

The media has been abuzz over the trend of married couples separating but choosing not to officially divorce. It seems popular with couples whose tight budgets stop them from filing papers. (When going through a divorce, it seems like you're charged something every time you call your lawyer, let alone write an email.) Avoiding divorce also keeps people from having to deal with the complexities of the court system. I have friends who attempted mediation, a low-cost alternative to divorce court, but were disappointed with the outcome and crawled back to their lawyers.

But I wonder: Can the so-called "un-divorced" ever emotionally move on? For me, an official divorce was about bringing emotional and legal resolve to my life. I'm not sure I could have done this if I remained forever separated. I think being in a better emotional space inevitably made me a better parent in the long run. There’s enough confusion for children when you divorce -- especially for young ones like mine.

At the very least, the divorce helped me illustrate a lesson about marriage for my 6-year-old son (a lesson I will eventually teach my 17-month-old daughter from my new marriage once she can understand it): Your Dad and I weren’t happy and we made a change. Because when you marry someone, you should be happy and in love. Can you reiterate this lesson if you’re living in limbo, which is how being permanently separated reads to me?

And that's the same reason my second husband and I tied the knot. No, we didn't need a marriage certificate to declare our love and devotion. But for me, it was crucial to get married to show my kid that marriage can work. Maybe you can do this without documents and legal fees, but I’m just a girl who likes things a little more clear cut.

Do you think the kids are affected when a separated couple stays legally married? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
- Divorce Defense: 10 Steps to Take Before You Separate
- Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions
- Gone to Splitsville: Star Breakups

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