For couples who may not want to divorce, perhaps for religious reasons, an alternative option is to seek a judicial separation.
A judicial separation will not legally dissolve a marriage, and the parties will not be able to remarry. However, a judicial separation does have greater significant than couples deciding simply to live apart. The Family Court is able to make a range of financial orders (by consent or otherwise) that are not available if the parties do not commence formal separation proceedings. However, it is important to note that the range of financial orders is more limited than those available upon divorce.
In order to apply for a divorce, a party must demonstrate to the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, which is evidenced by one of five facts (for more information please see our blog 'How To Get A Divorce'). In order to seek a judicial separation, one of the parties must rely on one of these five facts to support their application for judicial separation. As a reminder, the five facts are:
- The Respondent has committed adultery and the Petitioner finds it intolerable to continue to live with them;
- The Respondent has behaved so unreasonably that the Petitioner can no longer bear to live with them;
- The Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of two years or more;
- The parties have been separated for two years and the Respondent will consent to the divorce being granted; and
- The parties have been separated for five years.
Petitions for judicial separation are much more unusual than petitions for divorce, but this can be a useful mechanism if there are religious reasons to avoid a divorce. An additional consideration is that in some circumstances a petition for judicial separation may preserve certain pension rights which would otherwise be lost upon divorce. This can be particularly crucial where the parties are approaching retirement age, and advice should be sought from a solicitor specialising in Family law at the earliest opportunity.
All members of the Blake Morgan Family team are pleased to offer an initial consultation with new clients at half of the regularly hourly rate.