Options to consider before filing for a divorce

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