The breakdown of a marriage, civil partnership or other life relationship can be traumatic and difficult. You should firstly be sure that the relationship is at an end and consider if personal and/or couple counselling can help reconciliation.
If the relationship has irretrievably broken down and if there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation then the process of separation can begin. The person who makes the decision to separate is often in a different emotional space so understanding where your spouse/partner is emotionally is very important.
The process by which a couple separate can have consequences for their children and the good news is that there is plenty of help available. Please see section on children.
Couples if they agree on the terms on which they are to live separately and apart from each other, can put these terms into a legal contract called a Deed of Separation or Separation Agreement.
The processes by which couples can agree the terms of their separation and how they will parent their children are mediation, collaborative practice and solicitor negotiation.
If a couple cannot agree the terms either can apply to the court for a judicial separation. The Court will decide the issues including:
- maintenance, both by periodic payments and lump sum payment/s
- pension adjustments orders
- property transfer orders
- orders in relationabout the family home including whether one party should stay there for a period of time or whether it should be sold
- orders in relation to life assurance and what happens on death of the spouses
The court will take into account all the circumstances of the case. A number of statutory factors such as:
- Income, earning capacity and financial resources of both,
- Financial needs and obligations of both,
- Age, length of marriage, standard of living, and accommodation needs
- Any physical and mental disability,
- Contributions made by one to family life and effect on earning capacity of that commitment,
- The value of any benefit forfeit for example pension benefits
- Conduct but only if it is gross and unfair to disregard it.
Our knowledge of the law and court decisions allow us guide our clients on the likely outcome of their case. This helps avoid applying to court or having the court determine the case.