If you and your spouse have agreed to a trial separation, you're likely preoccupied with deciding just how you want the separation to turn out. That's understandable, but don't let the emotional and philosophical considerations get in the way of the practical issues that go along with a trial separation. If you ignore the practical side, your separation could end up being messy and distressing, rather than the actual break you two need to decide if you want to stay together. Here are three steps that should ensure your trial separation is easier to handle.
Put It in Writing
Don't leave things to chance. You and your spouse need to set ground rules for the separation, and putting them in writing is a fantastic way to ensure that you both know what will be expected of each of you. It's tempting to use a verbal agreement as a test of trust, but this really isn't the time for that -- trust should be established by both of you following the written agreement, not both of you hoping that you've gotten something right or hoping that there might be some leeway with one of the verbal rules.
One of You Should Leave
If financially feasible, one of you should leave the home you've been sharing. A real separation and divorce would likely not see both of you sharing the same place (due to tough economic conditions, it's not unheard of, but it's not optimal, either). One of you needs to leave so that the trial separation mimics the actual physical separation you'd go through. You can rent an apartment nearby or even leave town, but you need that physical distance to let any temporary strain from the relationship calm down.
If leaving wouldn't be financially possible, set physical boundaries in your current home and put in writing who can use what room at what time.
Pay Bills Early
Whatever you can pay early for the duration of the separation, do it. Having shared bills that you need to contact each other about will only make the separation more emotionally messy. If there are bills you can't pay early (some companies let you pay early only up to a certain number of months ahead, for example, before their automated systems kick in and issue a refund check), work out who will pay the bill and from which account.
If you have other questions about setting up a trial separation, including what to do after the trial separation period ends, talk to a divorce attorney. These attorneys do want to see the both of you go in the directions that best suit you, so the attorney can help you set up that agreement and get the practical issues sorted.
For a divorce attorney, contact a law office such as Grenadier, Starace, Duffett & Keisler, PC.