All You Need To Know About Legal Separation In The UK

Legal separation is an alternative couples can take instead of divorce when they feel it’s too late to seek a divorce soon and an avenue to work things out between themselves. A legal separation serves as a practical roadmap with an array of arrangements, including financial matters, property distribution, and childcare arrangements. It is not binding but serves as a proactive measure that allows couples to navigate changing circumstances with documented mutual agreements. Applying for a legal separation will not prevent you from applying for a divorce or dissolution at a later date.

Legal separation is also known as judicial separation.

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

The central difference between legal separation and divorce is that unlike divorce which involves court formalities and takes time to finalize, legal separation is less formal and takes a very short time to conclude.

A divorce finalized brings the marriage to an end while a legal separation does not bring the marriage to an end but rather allows couples to live apart from their former partner, but you will still be a married couple.

How to Get a Legal Separation

A legal separation can be applied for solely by one party or both parties can jointly apply depending on the situation at the time. The applying party or parties need to send a judicial separation application to the court along with the court fee of £365.

Processing Time of Legal Separation

It takes a period of seven to ten months (7-10) for a court to grant a legal separation after receiving the application and it is satisfied with the provided information to grant the legal separation.

Legal Effect of Legal Separation

Some of the key legal implications a legal separation has on the couples are;

Where the parties agree to have a divorce, the court will have the power to make the same financial orders as it could make on divorce, with the exception that it cannot make a pension-sharing order.

Additionally, the effect it has on a Will is the same as divorce as the spouse can no longer take any benefit unless a new Will is made specifically stating that it is to be the case that they can benefit from the Will.

Lastly, the couples are not obligated to live with each other during the separation.

Grounds for Legal Separation

There are no special grounds that need to be proved before a court will grant a judicial separation. All the parties have to do is state that they need a legal separation which suffices, unlike divorce which requires the parties to prove divorce on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably with so many other factors.


It is important to note that when couples are on legal separation, they are still considered to be legally married and cannot remarry until and unless a divorce is executed between the parties.

You can contact us for free legal advice on family law in the UK for more information.

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