5 Signs that it’s Time to Get a Legal Separation

Male and female holding either side of a broken heart symbolising relationship breakdown and possible legal separation or divorce

Updated for 2019

When a marriage breaks down it can be difficult for a couple to accept, which is why many people stay together even if they haven’t been happy for a long time. It’s for this reason that being able to recognise that it’s time to separate is so essential for you and your partner’s well-being.

A divorce or legal separation is a challenging experience for even the most strong minded individuals — it’s one of the most significant decisions that you will make in your life. While plenty of marriages end in divorce, countless more stay in unhappy relationships because they are reluctant to break up or fail to spot the signs that it’s time to get a legal separation. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of the common reasons for legal separations and the signs that your marriage could be breaking down.

1. You Feel that a Trial Separation Could Save Your Marriage

In the majority of cases, a period of legal separation is required — two years with consent or five years without it — before a couple can finalise a divorce. While this may seem like a long time, a trial legal separation can benefit people massively, as it provides the necessary time to prepare for life after divorce.

Although some couples decide to get a divorce once the separation period is over, for others, it’s the decision that ultimately saves their marriage. If you feel that taking a break from the confines of your marriage and giving you and your partner the opportunity to miss one another will help, a legal separation could be the answer.

2. You’re Only Together for the Children

The emotional trauma and stress of a divorce can be a very confusing and traumatic experience, so it’s no surprise that many married couples stay together for the sake of the children. Or at least postpone their legal separation until the children are older. While this may seem like the best decision for them at the time, the daily unrest of a broken marriage will prove to be a lot worse for them in the long run.

If you and your spouse no longer want to be together but fear how a legal separation will affect your children, it’s something that needs to be addressed. While there’s no doubt that children should always be the top priority, your quality of life and emotional wellbeing should never be disregarded.

3. The Relationship Is Financially Motivated

Another common occurrence is that couples only stay together because a divorce, or life after divorce, will be difficult financially. There’s no doubt that the division of assets and loss of property can significantly impact a person’s financial stability, so it’s easy to feel trapped or helpless if your sole motive for staying together is money. Fortunately, a legal separation means that, despite the relationship ending, you will still technically be married, allowing you to forgo the immediate need to divide your assets.

But a legal separation isn’t just a solution for those who may be financially disadvantaged after a divorce. In high-net-worth divorces, the assets at stake are usually significant, and rushing a divorce can result in one party getting a bad deal.

A legal separation will give you as much time as you need to establish the best way to divide your assets so that each party is satisfied while removing the hostility, pressure and cost of drawn-out divorce proceedings.

4. The Idea of a Legal Separation Doesn’t Worry or Upset You

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of a divorce is that it signals the end of a long-lasting relationship. When this happens, you relinquish the bond you once shared with your spouse. But this isn’t the case for everyone — for some, the thought of being on their own doesn’t upset or worry them in any way. The realisation that you no longer want to be in an unhappy marriage can be freeing and mark a positive first step into the next chapter of your life.

Denial is one of the first stages of many emotionally challenging situations, and divorce is no different. That lack of an initial shock or being upset about your relationship ending will benefit you when it comes to making vital decisions, such as negotiating how to divide assets. This will allow you to act logically, rather than emotionally.

5. Your Mental Health is Suffering

While most would assume that mental health issues are more likely to occur during a divorce or separation, it’s an unfortunate fact that a lot of people struggle with problems, such as depression, during their marriage

If your marriage — whether due to arguments, abuse or a general breakdown of the relationship — is having an impact on your happiness and state of mind, it’s a clear sign that something needs to change. If that change is the end of your marriage, your first step should always be to seek the help of a specialist family lawyer.

Are you in need of guidance and advice about a legal separation? We can help! At KMJ Solicitors, our team of divorce solicitors specialises in all areas of family law, including divorce, legal separation and child law. Get in touch with us today for a no-obligation chat about your case.

Clayton spent five years working in family law with a firm in Australia before moving to the UK in 1999. He deals with all aspects of family law, specialising in all family matters, offshore trusts, company structures, international law, prenuptial agreements, high net worth cases and cohabitation law.