Married couples who do not want a divorce can apply to the court for a decree of Judicial Separation. This is also sometimes referred to as a legal separation. Although judicial separation is rare, it can be useful for people who wish to avoid any perceived stigma from divorce, who perhaps do not wish to divorce for religious or moral reasons but who no longer wish to continue living together, for tax reasons or a wish to separate for two years to enable divorce by consent. You may not be able to divorce immediately if you have not been married for 12 months.
Judicial separation leaves the marriage legally intact, but enables the parties to apply to the court for financial and property orders in exactly the same way that they can upon divorce.
Unlike getting divorced, there is no requirement to have been married for a year before applying for a judicial separation. The application process is very similar to that of divorce although it is not necessary to show that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. If you wish to divorce after getting a judicial separation, however, it is necessary to go through the full divorce procedure.
Sometimes married couples decide to separate informally without applying for a divorce or judicial separation. In these circumstances, you will remain legally married. You will in this situation wish to consider separating your finances. We can help you negotiate the terms of separation and draw up an agreement setting out the arrangements for your finances and children. It is vital that both you and your partner obtain independent legal advice before entering into this type of agreement if you intend for it to be legally binding.