Alternatives to divorce

When a decision is made that a marriage has irretrievably broken down, the main benefit in issuing divorce proceedings is that divorce is the only way financial matters can be concluded fully and finally.

It is therefore the only way to achieve absolute certainty for the future.

Where divorce proceedings are not available or are not a practical possibility, you still have the option of either: (a) judicial separation or (b) a Deed of Separation

Judicial separation

The process is somewhat similar to the divorce process but there is no requirement to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. For the time being, applications can only be made using the paper application process and cannot be made online.

As with the divorce process, the application for judicial separation can be made solely or jointly.  In either case the Applicant(s) will be asked if they seek to be judicially separated.

The judicial separation process does not include the 20 week period that applies with divorce applications. Therefore an application for a judicial separation order can typically be concluded much sooner.

The effect of a judicial separation order is that it is no longer obligatory for the applicant to cohabit with the respondent/joint applicant. The Court is able to make orders about the division of money and property with one important exception, because the parties are technically still married, the court is not able to make a pension sharing order.

While a judicial separation order is in force and the separation continues, if either of the parties to the marriage dies without a will, all of their real or personal property shall devolve as if the other party to the marriage is dead.

Deed of Separation

This is a financial agreement reached between parties who do not wish to divorce, or divorce yet. This can often be for religious or practical reasons.

Subject to specified steps being adhered to and there being no changes between the date the Deed is entered into and any subsequent divorce where a full and final financial Order can be made, the agreement should be regarded as final by any divorce court subsequent considering the agreement.

As with the judicial separation proceedings, you cannot deal with pensions as no Court Order will be made and no Final Order on divorce will be available.

Choose Furley Page for legal advice about alternatives to divorce

Whether judicial separation or a Deed of Separation is the right approach for you is something you must seek legal advice on as early as possible. Serious implications can arise from each and from any delay in deciding which option to pursue.

Contact Rayma Collins or Naomi Hayward for advice.

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