Many married couples believe that the term ‘separation’ is simply that stage between a marriage ending and a divorce being granted. But in a growing number of cases, separation can actually involve a legal process: being legally separated means that you and your spouse are still married and cannot re-marry, but legally you are no longer living as husband and wife.
As a specialist Family Law firm based in Altrincham, Cheshire, we can provide expert advice on the pros and cons of Legal Separation taking into account your own individual circumstances.
There are several reasons why you may wish to opt for a Legal Separation rather than a divorce. Your religious beliefs, for example, may mean that you are unwilling to divorce, but do wish to show that you and your spouse are no longer together. Alternatively, you might not want to finalise a divorce straight away – a Legal Separation allows you time and space to decide the fate of your marriage. And then there are financial considerations. Unlike a divorce, a Legal Separation means that you should be able to retain some benefits for your spouse and any children, for example survivor benefits included in some pensions and insurance policies.
If you’ve been married for less than a year, you can’t divorce until the year is up and in many cases you may need to be separated for two years before a divorce can be granted. In these cases a Legal Separation will set out the financial terms you and your spouse must adhere to whilst you are waiting to divorce. This is a good way to protect your interests during this interim period.
Of course, there are instances where Legal Separation may not be the right decision to make. For example, you and your spouse may simply agree to separate for a set amount of time in a bid to save your marriage, in which case there is really no need to make it a legal process.
Something else to consider carefully, should you decide to get divorced following a Legal Separation, is that either spouse may argue to the court that the terms of the separation should be used as the basis for the divorce settlement. So it’s vital that you come to a separation agreement that you can both live with, long-term.
And, of course, when you are legally separated neither of you can remarry, which can make it difficult to move on and create a new future for yourselves. Our specialist Family Law lawyers based in our Altrincham, Cheshire offices can talk you through your options and help you to decide if Legal Separation would be the right decision for your circumstances. Please contact us on 0845 548 1007 for a free 20 minute consultation.