Legal separation, also known as judicial separation, allows you to live apart from your spouse without divorcing them and dissolving your marriage. Although the procedure for obtaining a decree of judicial separation is similar to divorce proceedings, the court does not have to decide whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

You may choose to opt for judicial separation if you have been married for less than 12 months, if you want some time to decide whether to get divorced or if you have religious beliefs against divorce. Obtaining a decree of judicial separation does not prevent you from applying for a divorce in the future.

Unlike divorce, judicial separation does not affect existing wills, so it is important to review your financial affairs at this time.

1. Can you convert judicial separation into divorce?

No separate proceedings have to be issued for divorce, even though the reasons for the breakdown remain the same. It is possible for either party to issue divorce proceedings following pronouncement of a decree of judicial separation, or whilst proceedings are ongoing.

2. Can I obtain the same financial orders on judicial separation as divorce?

Once a decree of judicial separation has been granted, the court has the power to make a number of financial orders. However, the court cannot make a pension sharing order upon judicial separation. If you are waiting until you have been separated for a period of 12 months in order to bring divorce proceedings, you may also deal with financial matters by entering into a Separation Agreement. An order does however bring some finality and greater certainty.

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