What Is a Decree of Judicial Separation?

close up of male and female hands opposite each other negotiating a divorce settlement - concept pf rights to property after a divorce

When a marriage breaks down, most people will opt for divorce, but there are also those who want to remain married, for one reason or another. This can be achieved with a decree of judicial separation.

A divorce is, without a doubt, one of the most stressful and complicated situations a person can ever experience. While the end of a relationship is difficult to handle from an emotional standpoint, it’s often the legal and financial aspects that cause the most problems. The difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that, although you and your spouse will no longer be a couple, in the eyes of the law, you will still be married.

In this post, we’ll explain what a decree of judicial separation is and how it can benefit couples considering a divorce.

The Purpose of a Decree of Judicial Separation

Much like a divorce, a decree of judicial separation is a court order, however, legally separated couples will still be married. In judicial separation cases, the court has the same range of powers as it does in divorce cases in terms of dividing the marital assets and arranging child custody and maintenance.

A decree of judicial separation also allows you and your spouse to set out each of your rights and responsibilities while living apart. If you are planning to get a divorce following a period of separation — or you have no intention of divorcing, but later change your mind — having a legal agreement in place can make proceedings a lot easier when it comes to dividing finances and property, and determining who your children will live with.

Advantages of Judicial Separation

Although you may think legal separation is pointless if you plan on getting divorced anyway, it can actually make the divorce process cheaper, more straightforward and less stressful for all involved. The advantages of judicial separation include:

  • It allows you to create a definitive structure for handling legal and financial affairs, which will save you time, effort, and stress in the event you later get divorced
  • A legal separation gives both parties time and space to decide whether they want to get divorced or attempt to save their marriage
  • If you don’t meet the grounds for immediate divorce and want to satisfy to the court that you have been separated for two years (for divorce with consent), a separation agreement shows that both you and your spouse consent and fully agree on the terms of the divorce
  • Being separated, but remaining married, allows you and your spouse to benefit from financial advantages, such as tax cuts, pensions, and certain insurance plans. It also means you can delay the division of assets if decisions need to be made about money or property. For example, you could hold off on a divorce until your mortgage is paid.

The Importance of Hiring a Specialist Family Lawyer

Although some would say that a legal separation is, in many ways, less stressful than a divorce, it’s just as vital you seek the advice and guidance of a high-quality family lawyer. There are many legal, financial and personal aspects to consider both during and following a separation, and the first step should always be to seek bespoke legal representation.

A specialist family lawyer possesses a vast range of family law-related knowledge, as well as years of experience dealing with situations very similar to your own. This makes them an essential asset when dealing with legal proceedings that not only affect your personal life, but that can also have a significant impact on your financial stability going forward.

Are you and your spouse considering a judicial separation? At KMJ Solicitors, we specialise in all aspects of family law, including divorce and separation. Get in touch today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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.