Legal Separation: Everything You Need To Know


Sometimes relationships and marriages don’t work out. In this situation, it may be the right time to get a divorce or legal separation. It is a hard process to go through and making the tough decision between opting for a full divorce, or choosing a legal separation can be difficult.

For many people, confusion over exactly what a legal separation is makes the issue even more problematic. If you’re in this predicament and you’re not sure which is best for you, having all the information is essential. Here’s everything you need to know about legal separation…

What Is Legal Separation?

Legal Separation is the formal process of living apart from your spouse without breaking a marriage or civil partnership, as a divorce would. You can ask for a legal separation for the same reasons as you would file for a divorce, including unreasonable behaviour, desertion, and adultery.

However, there are additional reasons that enable you to apply for a legal separation, including being married for less than a year, religion, and even determining whether you want to carry on being married or not.

A legal separation is a formal way of separating as a couple, without affecting your marriage in a legal sense. It is often used as a practice prior to divorce to test your relationship and see if a permanent separation is really what you want.

What Do I Need To Consider For Legal Separation?

When you choose to separate from a partner, you will need to consider how it may affect your day-to-day life. For example, where will you live outside the family home, and if you have children, where would they stay so that they could continue to see both parents at separate locations.

Financially, you may need to consider whether you will be able to afford your new accommodation costs. Due to this you may also need to think about dividing up any assets or savings you have with your spouse, and sharing them to ensure costs on both sides are covered.

One important thing to consider is how a legal separation may affect your tax status, as you may then need to update it to ‘separated’ rather than ‘married’. If there isn’t an option for you to do this then you may then need to consult with a professional in order to decide if you could as married or single for tax purposes. Getting this right is key, as if the information is wrong, it can affect how much you pay for your taxes, causing you even more stress at an already stressful time.

What Does Legal Separation Actually Include?

The legalities of a separation are basically the same as those covered by the finalisation of a divorce. Everything needed will be documented, including child arrangements, child maintenance as well as assets and debts. Your legal rights won’t change, as you will still be married, however you will be living apart.

Even if your children don’t live with you anymore, you are still entitled to have control over how they are brought up and how they live. The main responsibility lies with the parent who has full residency of the child, but even if you live elsewhere you can still have input concerning areas like their education and medical treatments. In addition, you are also still responsible for financially support them.

Divorce Vs Legal Separation

There are many benefits to choosing legal separation rather than divorce. One of the main ones is that it ultimately allows you and your partner to have time apart from each other. It can actually be helpful to your relationship to take time out to reflect, especially if you have had a very heated relationship.

You can use the time apart to gain external help, such as couples counselling, and try to work through any problems you have. Another reason may be that you have strong religious beliefs against divorce, giving you an option that enables you to live apart without actually divorcing. It is particularly helpful as a legal separation grants you the same right as you would receive from a divorce, but without the need to go through the actual process.

Finally, if after a period of time you decide that a legal separation isn’t for you, then you can either resume your marriage, or the separation documents can be changed to a divorce settlement agreement if both parties are happy with them.

Extra Advice And Support

Knowing what option to take in a failing marriage or civil partnership can be a difficult decision to make by yourself. If you need any extra advice, we can support you with anything you need. At Beeston Shenton, we provide a friendly approach to more sensitive areas of law, and are here to advise you in the best way for your personal situation. Get in touch today for more expert advice on legal separation, or free initial divorce consultation…