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Separation

If you and your partner wish to separate, or have separated, and you would like advice on your next steps, contact us. We can advise you on how to unravel your partnership finances, split your assets and agree on the care and arrangements for your children. This can be a very difficult time for everyone and our aim is to make sure you have someone you can trust to guide you through the process.

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More about Legal Separation

What is Legal Separation?

A legal separation allows you to live apart, without divorcing or ending a civil partnership. You can ask for a legal separation for the same reasons you could file for a divorce, eg: adultery or unreasonable behaviour, however you don’t need to show that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.

Why would you want a Legal Separation?

You may want a legal separation if:

  • You have religious reasons against divorce
  • You’ve been married less than a year
  • You want time and space to work out if you want to end the marriage

How do you apply for a Legal Separation?

To get a legal separation, you need to fill in a judicial separation petition - form D8 and send 2 copies to your nearest divorce court, and keep a copy for yourself. This is the same form you would use for a divorce of dissolution, you merely tick the “judicial separation” box. You will also need to include a certified copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate when you send the form. A legal separation costs £365, if you are on benefits or a low income you may be able to get help with this court fee

What is Separation when used as a reason for Divorce?

Separation in the context of reasons for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, is when you have been living separately from your spouse/partner, even if this is under the same roof. No meals together. No sleeping in the same bed. No doing each other's washing up or washing.

How can Separation be used to prove Irretrievable Breakdown?

Separation can be relied on in one of two ways to prove irretrievable breakdown, namely:

  1. 2 years' separation with consent
  2. 5 years' separation without consent

2 years' separation with consent

For separation between 2 and 5 years the Respondent has to consent to the petition. To qualify as 2 years separation, the period does not have to be continuous, as long as you have not lived together for more than 6 months and the total time is longer than 2 years. So, if you lived together for just under 6 months during the time of separation, your total period would have to be 2.5 years. Where separation is being relied upon the Respondent can ask the Court to consider financial issues before granting a final Decree/Order.

Can consent be withdrawn?

Even if consent is given at the start, it can be withdrawn right up until decree nisi/conditional order. The Court can also allow the consent to be withdrawn at a later date and before final Decree/order, but this only happens in very rare circumstances.

5 years' separation without consent

Where separation is for longer than 5 years the Respondent does not have to consent. However, this does not mean they should be ignored, as they can always oppose the petition and make a general nuisance of themselves if they want to. The Respondent can ask the Court to consider financial issues before granting a final Decree/Order. In some instances they have been able to defeat the Petition by proving grave hardship will result, if a Decree/Final Order is granted.

What should you do now?

If you would like to discuss any aspect of Separation, please call us for clear, practical advice on your best way forward. We will not only give you sound legal advice, but also put you in touch with other agencies, such as "Sortingoutseparation" and Relate who are there to help people experiencing a breakdown in their relationship. If you would like to read more about the common myths about separation and divorce/dissolution, please read our article called “The Truth About Splitting Up