“We are staying together for the sake of the kids.” That is a statement that used to be heard often decades ago. It may be used by some still today. But many experts question whether parents really do their children any favors by staying together when their marriage is on the rocks.

If divorce is being considered, but seems too drastic a step, another option that may be possible is a legal separation. There are a number of reasons why this might be an appropriate option. For one thing, it allows the parents to engage in a “try it before you buy it” scenario. 

In a legally separated state, New York couples can retain benefits of marriage such as insurance coverage and tax breaks. Meanwhile, the time and space apart allow the parents to assess their situation from neutral corners and to seek professional help as might be appropriate.

Legal separation may also allow couples to maintain good standing in a religious community where restrictions on divorce might be a factor.

For Colorado therapist Sandi Squicquero, the key factor that should tip the scales is to answer the question, what is in the best interest of the children? She says if an environment of abuse, or even alleged abuse, exists in the home, children need to be protected. That applies, too, if a parent is so caught up in his or her own life that the children are being neglected emotionally or physically.

Squicquero also observes that parents who are unable to avoid conflict with their spouses can’t very well serve as good role models for their children when it comes to effective dispute resolution. And the negative lessons they learn now could harm them later.

In the end, only you can decide whether the marriage can be saved or not. To be sure that you understand all the implications of such a decision, part of the process should include consultation with an experienced attorney.

Source: The Coloradoan, “Squicquero: Should you avoid divorce for kids’ sake?” Sandi Squicquero, June 9, 2014