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Judicial Separation

In some cases, the parties may feel that they do not want to seek a divorce in the first instance. Sometimes this is because the parties are not yet ready to formalise the divorce or dissolution or they have not yet been married for a year. In other cases, the parties prefer not to divorce for religious reasons. In such cases, a Judicial Separation may be of assistance to you.

If you do not wish to terminate your marriage but you still want to formalise your separation from your spouse legally, we can assist you with the judicial separation procedure.

It is a very similar process to that of divorce or civil partnership dissolution save that you will still remain legally married to your spouse. This means that you will still retain certain inheritance and pension rights which you would otherwise lose after the divorce or dissolution.

It is also possible to make an application for a financial remedy during or after the judicial separation. Please see here (link to finances) for more information about financial remedies.

Since the procedure for the Judicial Separation is virtually the same as that for divorce or dissolution, our fees will be the same.

Divorce


You only apply for divorce when you have been married for more than one year. In England & Wales, there is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage can be evidenced by one of the following five facts;

  • 2 years separation – the parties have been separated for a period of two years or more and the other party consents to the divorce

  • 5 years separation – the parties have been separated for more than five years

  • Unreasonable behaviour

  • Adultery – usually only used where the other party is prepared to admit to the adultery

  • Desertion – the other party must have deserted you for more than two years, for no good reason and without your agreement (this is rarely used)


Initially, we will meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your case and we will identify which of the facts are available to you. We will explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of petitioning for divorce based upon those facts.

When a fact has been selected, we will take steps to draft your petition for divorce.

When the divorce petition is approved, we will usually send a copy to the other party for their comments. This is actively encouraged by Resolution (a specialist organisation of family lawyers) and helps to minimise confrontation and hostility during the divorce process.

Thereafter, your petition will be sent to the court to be issued. The court will then send the divorce papers to your spouse by post. Your spouse will then have 7 days to respond to the divorce petition by completing a form known as an Acknowledgement of Service and returning this to the Court. Your spouse will be required to confirm whether they intend to defend the divorce on this form.

When your spouse sends the form back to the Court, a copy will be forwarded to us. We can then use this to prepare your application for pronouncement of Decree Nisi which is the first stage of the divorce.

Upon receiving your application for pronouncement of Decree Nisi, if the court is satisfied that you have sufficiently proven that you are entitled to the divorce, a date for pronouncement will be set. If the divorce is uncontested and there is no dispute about the costs, you will not need to attend court on this day.

The court will send us a copy of the Decree Nisi after it has been pronounced. You must then wait for six weeks and one day before applying for Decree Absolute. This is the document which finally brings the marriage to an end.

However, if there are financial issues connected to the divorce which remain unresolved, we will not normally advise you to apply for Decree Absolute until these issues have been fully addressed. This is because you lose certain rights and entitlements after the Decree Absolute is granted. We usually try to deal with the financial issues between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute and this can delay the final part of the divorce procedure. Please see here for detailed information about financial settlements and the types of financial remedies available.

Civil Partnership Dissolution


Dissolution is the process of legally bringing a civil partnership to and end.

Just like divorce, there is only one ground for dissolution of the civil partnership – the irretrievable breakdown of the civil partnership.

However, unlike divorce, this can only be evidenced by one of the following four facts:

  • 2 years separation – the parties have been separated for a period of two years or more and the other party consents to the dissolution

  • 5 years separation – the parties have been separated for more than five years

  • Unreasonable behaviour

  • Desertion – the other party must have deserted you for more than two years, for no good reason and without your agreement (this is rarely used)


The procedure for the dissolution is exactly the same as the procedure for divorce save that the Decree Nisi is known as the Conditional Order and the Decree Absolute is known as the Final Order.

Free information meeting


We are pleased to offer all potential new clients a free, no obligation information meeting.

The meeting will not normally be longer than 20-30 minutes and is designed to give us the opportunity to take a little bit more information from you and give you a general overview of what we can do to help and how much it might cost.

We find that this works very well because it allows you to make an informed decision about whether to engage our services and gives you the opportunity to establish an immediate relationship with us in person.

Next Steps


For more information, an informal chat or to book an appointment – call our family law specialist on 020 7790 2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Divorce & relationship breakdown
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