Divorce and separation
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End of a relationship
Whether you are cohabiting or married, the end of a relationship is almost inevitably painful.
If you are cohabiting, there is no legal barrier to separation as and when either partner wishes.
For divorce, the marriage must have lasted at least one year and broken down irretrievably. The divorce petition will need to establish one of five facts: adultery; desertion; unreasonable behaviour; separation of at least two years with the other spouse’s consent to divorce; or separation of at least five years.
For many couples, separation is a practical alternative to seeking a divorce straightaway. You can separate quickly, without needing to involve the court, and later use the arrangements agreed for the separation as the basis for arrangements on divorce.
In some cases, separation may be a better long-term solution than divorce – for example, by preserving your spouse’s right to your occupational pension should you die. Of course, you would not be able to marry anyone else without getting a divorce first.
You can separate formally – drawing up a legal agreement – or informally, but in either case it is a good idea to negotiate agreement on finances and looking after the children. You may need to deal with practical issues such as sorting out any joint accounts and registering your right to live in the family home, and may also want to review your will.
Our family law and divorce team can confidentially advise on all these aspects.