Get in touch

Legal Separation: What Is This?

Legal separation also known as judicial separation – is a legal process similar to divorce. When a marriage breaks down, some couples decide to begin a process called ‘legal separation’.

In this article, we’ll explain what legal separation is and discuss the differences between legal separation and divorce.


What legal separation means

Legal separation is a legal process very similar to divorce, but without the ending of the marriage. It is relatively rare.

It is important not to confuse legal separation with a separation agreement. Legal separation is the formal process of going through the courts to legally separate from your spouse. A separation agreement deals with how finances should be divided during the period of separation.

Legal separation enables a couple who have broken up to live apart, without divorcing. Many couples choose to do this informally, without seeking a legal separation from the courts.

Legal separation


How to get a legal separation

A legal separation can be requested by filling in a judicial separation petition and submitting it to your nearest divorce centre.

The same reasons can be used as for divorce. The difference is that, unlike divorce, you do not need to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Legal separation does not bring a marriage to an end. Therefore, you will not be free to remarry.


Why legal separation?

Couples may choose legal separation over divorce for a number of reasons, such as:

• Religious beliefs mean they can’t get a divorce
• They’ve been married for less than one year (it’s necessary to be married for at least one year in England and Wales before getting a divorce)
• They want time to work out whether to get a divorce

Legal separation enables couples to spend time apart from each other to decide whether they want a divorce. Legal separation may, in some circumstances, result in reconciliation, with relief that a divorce was not sought earlier.

However, legal separation is not very common. For many couples who have separated and are considering whether or not to get a divorce, a separation agreement, which sets out financial and child arrangements during the separation, may be enough on its own, without the formal legal separation process.


How much does legal separation cost?

Legal separation costs £365. If you decide to divorce in the future, you will still have to submit a divorce petition and pay the £550 court fee for this.


What’s legal separation vs divorce

The key difference between legal separation and divorce, is that while divorce ends a marriage, legal separation does not.

When you legally separate, you will have a court order which details the rights and responsibilities of both you and your spouse.

A separation agreement addresses the same issues that are addressed during the divorce process (division of assets, child arrangements etc).


Is legal separation the best option?

Whether you opt for legal separation, informal time apart from each other or a divorce, will very much depend on your circumstances.

As always, it’s best to seek independent legal advice before deciding whether a legal separation would be right for you.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

Was this article helpful?

11th March 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 49 = 59

Chess Piece

Make the first move

Find out how we can help you, call us on
0333 311 0925 or email us today.

Contact Us
Back up to top Back to Top