We understand that relationships can break down, and whilst many couples may separate, they may not know that they can do so legally. Partner and Collaborative Lawyer, Georgina Earle-Hutton shares some insight into Legal Separation below.

1. What is a Legal Separation?

The correct term for a legal separation is judicial separation. A judicial separation is a legal process whereby a married couple or parties in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership can legally separate without divorcing or dissolving their civil partnership. 

2. How long does a Legal Separation last?

Unlike divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, there are no time limits. Therefore, parties can apply for a judicial separation at any time after their marriage or registration of their civil partnership and can continue to be judicially separated until either party applies for a divorce. 

3. Why would you get a Legal Separation instead of a Divorce?

There are a number of reasons why parties to a marriage or a civil partnership may not want to get divorced. These may be because of:

  • Religious reasons.
  • The parties have not been married for more than a year; a prerequisite for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.
  • Either party may not be certain that their marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
  • The process is quicker unlike divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings.  If a judge is satisfied that a party is entitled to a judicial separation they will grant one immediately, as opposed to a party having to wait 6 weeks and a day after pronouncement of a decree nisi or a conditional order.

4. What are the disadvantages of a Legal Separation?

The main disadvantage of a judicial separation as opposed to a divorce is that the parties are still married. This means that in the event of either party finding a new partner, they will be unable to remarry until decree absolute has been pronounced, or in the case of a civil partnership, the civil partnership has been dissolved. 

Although the Court can make financial provision orders for parties to a judicial separation in respect of their assets unlike in divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings, the Court is unable to make any orders in respect of either parties pensions. Therefore a parties pension which may be a valuable and considerable matrimonial asset would remain the sole property of each party. That asset could be drawn down, cashed in or dissipated, thereby defeating a claim of a party at a later date in divorce proceedings. 

5. What costs are involved in a Legal Separation?

Our family specialists offer a 1 hour fixed fee consultation in which our specialists will be able to provide you with further legal advice. They can advise you in relation to considering whether a judicial separation is the appropriate option for you, or whether a divorce would be more appropriate to your situation. 

Please contact us on 020 3551 8500 so that we can make a mutually convenient appointment for you or contact us here to see how we can assist you.


Georgina Earle-Hutton
Georgina Earle-Hutton
Partner & Collaborative Lawyer - Family & Child Law

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