Separating from a partner is never easy, particularly when there are legal arrangements that need to be made.
You’ll need to agree on who will look after the children and when. If you have children together, both you and your ex-partner must each be financial responsibility for them.
These arrangements are different to the arrangement for legally separating from your partner, but they can be made with the help of a family solicitors.
The process of separating from a partner depends on whether you’re married or in a civil partnership and whether or not you wish to completely end your relationship with them officially.
The following advice is for clients living in England and Wales. Different rules apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Ending a marriage
If you’re looking to get a divorce, you’ll need to send a formal application to a court, including divorce papers signed by both parties.
You can get a divorce in England and Wales as long as you have been married at least a year, and if you can prove that your relationship has permanently broken down. This can include giving one or more of the following reasons:
Currently legally defined as sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex.
⦁ Unreasonable behaviour
Including physical or verbal abuse, drunkenness, drug-taking, or refusing to pay toward housekeeping
If your husband or wife has left you in order to end the relationship, without your agreement or a good reason, or for at least 2 years out of the past 2.5 years.
⦁ You’ve been separated more than 2 years (and both agree to get divorced in writing)
⦁ You’ve been separated at least 5 years (even if your husband/wife does not agree to divorce)
It will be up to you and your ex-partner to divide your shared money, savings and properties. You can either arrange this between yourselves or with the help of a divorce lawyer.
You can usually avoid court proceedings for a divorce if you both agree on arrangements regarding children and assets, and on the reason for ending your marriage.
If you don’t want to get a divorce, you can get an annulment if the marriage counts as legally invalid or defective, or you could get a legal separation.
Ending a civil partnership
You’ll also need permission from a court to officially end a civil partnership. You will need to ask the court to grant either:
⦁ A dissolution order (if your civil partnership has lasted more than a year)
⦁ A legal separation order (if your civil partnership has lasted less than a year)
⦁ An annulment (if your civil partnership was not legal)
A legal separation agreement allows you to live apart without ending your civil partnership entirely. You may wish to then officially dissolve the civil partnership at a later date – provided more than a year has passed since it was registered.
There are many reasons couples may choose to get a legal separation, for example if:
⦁ You have religious reasons against divorce
⦁ You’ve been married under a year
⦁ You want a trial separation to decide whether you want to end the marriage
Separation on a trial basis is usually a good way for couples to resolve any outstanding conflicts. A separation agreement allows them to a couple to make arrangements for any childcare, finance, and other issues without going to court.
Others may choose to enter a legal separation agreement to put their separation in writing if they plan to get divorced in the future. This document can then be referenced during divorce proceedings to show consent for both parties and to influence court judgements.
To get a legal separation, you’ll need to send a separation petition to the court. You can ask for a legal separation for the same reasons as you could a divorce but you won’t need to prove that the marriage has completely broken down in order for it to be accepted.
You may wish to use a family solicitors to help finalise your separation agreement once the conditions have been agreed between yourself and your husband or wife.
If you’re looking for advice and guidance about your divorce, civil partnership dissolution, or legal separation, call 03330096275 to speak in confidence with one of the UK’s leading family law solicitors, Ashmans Solicitors.
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