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COVID-19 UPDATE: Goodwins is committed to delivering high-quality service while keeping our staff and clients safe. Currently, courts remain open and our team will continue to operate as normal, but all consultations and meetings will now be made via video call. Click here to view our full response to COVID-19.

FAQ: Should we separate or divorce?

There are occasions when a couple is unsure as to whether it is better for them to separate or file for a divorce. This decision will depend on your own personal circumstances, but here is some further information to help you reach that decision.

First, you should be clear on the difference between separation and divorce – which means first learning about the different kinds of separation there are. These are as follows:

  • Informal separation – For couples who wish to live separately but do not want to enter into a formal separation process. Couples who informally separate do not hold the same legal rights as couples who undergo judicial or formal separations. However, some couples use informal separation as a testing ground for what living apart is like, before going ahead with a formal separation.
  • Formal separation – This is a legally binding agreement where your divorce solicitor will draw up the responsibilities for each party. These may include financial obligations, living arrangements, child support and child maintenance. Mediation may be required for you and your spouse to reach this agreement. This option is for couples who don’t want to formally divorce, and as such, the marriage is still not dissolved.
  • Judicial separation – Similar to a divorce – but where the marriage is not legally dissolved – judicial separation is mainly used by couples who oppose divorce on religious or cultural grounds. Unlike divorce, you can apply for a judicial separation anytime after marriage – not the requisite one year for divorce. A legally-binding agreement will be drawn up, outlining financial obligations as well as responsibilities for child support, child maintenance and visitation rights – if necessary.

As you can see, the main difference between divorce and separation is that the marriage is only legally dissolved during a divorce. Separations are typically used by couples who do not wish to go through the formal divorce process – usually due to their beliefs or principles. However, save for informal separations, you will have to take legal measures to finalise the separation, so if you’re not opposed to divorce outright, it might be worth seeking the divorce route instead. To make a fully informed decision, talk to an experienced divorce solicitor to find out what would be best in your situation.

Unsure about which route to take? You can get in touch with us today to book an initial consultation for a confidential discussion and we’ll be happy to help. We are located in Harrow, London, with on site car parking and accessible from public transport links. Alternatively, if you are overseas we can arrange a Skype call with you if it is more convenient.

Related Services

Goodwins Family Law Solicitors is a leading London based law firm specialising in divorce and family law for clients in London, the UK and internationally. View more information about our services:


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