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Legal or Judicial Separation

Legal or judicial separation is an alternative to divorce proceedings and is the legal process by which the court declares that a couple are legally separated. Legal Separation does not dissolve the marriage and a couple will still be married after a decree of judicial separation. However, it releases the parties from the duty to live together.

Reasons for seeking Legal Separation

There are a number of reasons why someone might seek to apply for judicial separation as opposed to divorce; some of these are as follows:

1. A decree of judicial separation can be sought at any time during a marriage. Unlike divorce, there is no requirement to wait for a year after the marriage. It also means that anyone who has been married for less than a year and requires financial support by way of a court order may benefit from judicial separation.
2. The parties may have religious reasons for not wanting to commence divorce proceedings. This decree offers an alternative in this scenario.
3. The parties may want some time and space to consider their different alternatives and decide if and when they want to end the marriage.

Grounds for Separation

The grounds on which a decree of legal or judicial separation can be obtained are the same grounds as divorce: These are:Judicial Separation

1. Adultery of either or both parties.
2. Unreasonable behaviour of either or both parties.
3. A 2 year separation of the parties by mutual consent.
4. If one party has left or deserted the other for a period of 2 years.
5. A 5 year separation of the parties.

Differences between Judicial Separation and Divorce

There are a number of differences between obtianing a divorce and a judicial separation: Of course, the obvious one is that a legal separation is just that whilst a divorce will bring the actual marriage to an end. Other differences include the fact that in judicial separation proceedings:

1. There is no requirement to wait for a year to commence separation proceedings as there is with divorce;
2. There is no requirement to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
3. Unlike divorce, the separation process does not dissolve the marriage
4. Judicial separation does not have the same affect on pensions as divorce as the parties are technically still married.

Effects of Judicial Separation

There are a number of legal and practical effects of a legal or judicial separation:

1. There is no obligation for either of the parties to live together;
2. The courts can make an order in relation to the division of the matrimonial property;
3. If one of the spouse dies intestate the surviving spouse will not benefit unless there is a valid will made stating that to be the case.

If you are considering starting judicial separation and would like to know more about your rights, our specialist separation solicitors can help. Please contact us on 020 3588 3500.


Even though I live outside of London I was happy I chose Saracens to help me with my divorce matter. It was important that I had solicitors whom I could trust and would deal with my case properly and get me the desired outcome Continue Reading

March 8, 2016

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Divorce and Family Law
Panel Member: Farzana Naz