No aspect of the breakdown of a marriage is easy to deal with. Although the emotional trauma alone is bad enough, there are also legal aspects to consider. There are three options for a couple to consider during the breakdown of a marriage before an official divorce is filed for.
What is a separation agreement?
A separation agreement is a written, formal statement which is decided on by a couple who intend to stop living together and being classed as a legal couple. The agreement sets out how the couple wishes to deal with financial, property and child custody arrangements. Examples of information included within the agreement include the promise to:
- Live separately
- Not molest, annoy or disturb the other person
- To provide financial support for the other person (until the other person begins to co-inhabit with another person)
- To provide financial support for any children of the relationship
- To decide who the child/children of the relationship will live with and have contact with
What is an informal separation?
An alternative to a separation agreement is an informal separation. Although there are still steps to take when an informal separation is agreed upon, it is less binding than a separation agreement. When a marriage ends informally, you have a legal responsibility to inform a number of organisations and departments, including:
- Your housing benefit office
- Your council tax office
- Your mortgage lender
- Your water, gas and electricity companies
- You doctor and dentist
- HM Revenue and Customs
- Your local council, to name a few
What is judicial separation?
If the options of an informal separation or a separation agreement do not suit your circumstances, for any reason, there is one more option to consider before legal divorce: judicial separation. A judicial separation is a way to legally separate from your partner without filing for divorce. A judicial separation is appropriate if:
- You have religious views which oppose divorce
- You have been married for less than a year
- You want time and space away from the marriage to consider long term options for the relationship