Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find the answer to your question on the rest of the website, try our FAQs below.

Q. What’s the benefit of opting for a legal separation over a trial (informal) separation?
An informal separation is usually the first step towards resolving a relationship breakdown. However, a prolonged period of trial separation with no legal or formalised agreement can leave both partners in limbo, with no clarity regarding the legal standing of their relationship.

This can lead to quarrels over how best to separate joint assets, who pays household bills, who owns particular possessions and who has custody over any children. Here it obviously helps if a couple have parted under mutual terms, as the separation is likely to be smoother. However, doubts and problems will come up, no matter how amicable the separation.

It’s often a good idea therefore to go for a legal separation. A legal separation agreement can be an opportunity to address the same complex issues surrounding a potential divorce. It can also protect the interests of both spouses in the meantime, and avoid a multitude of recurring arguments.

If you divorce after a legal separation and your case goes to court, a judge is likely to assume that since you were satisfied with the legal separation agreement, the agreement should carry over to the divorce settlement agreement. For that reason, it is important that you come to a separation agreement you can live with long term.

Q. What’s the difference between separation and divorce?
A divorce constitutes the legal end to a marriage, whereas a separation (informal or legal) does not.
During a legal separation (a formalised version of an informal trial separation where two partners simply live apart from each other), you have a court order outlining the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while they are living apart. Essentially, you remain legally married while choosing to live separate lives.

A legal separation may be chosen as an alternative to immediate divorce for a number of reasons. Both parties may not be sure about whether they really want to get divorced, so a legal separation would allow both to experience the realities of divorce. Some couples may want to use a separation agreement as a way to begin to resolve issues around a divorce, particularly if children are involved. Some couples may just feel that they do not need to get divorced, and that a legal separation is enough.

Q. What happens to my will if I get divorced?
You may be aware that when you got married, your old will automatically became void. This encourages married couples to re-think their wills now that they have a spouse as their priorities have probably changed. However, this automatic voiding does not apply if you get divorced or separated. In this case, you will have to officially change your will as appropriate if it no longer matches your wishes.

Q. What information is required by the divorce petition?
A. The divorce petition document will require basic information about names, addresses and ages of any children, along with a statement confirming that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. A statement of the intended grounds for divorce will also be required.