There are a couple, not often used, but nonetheless you might want to consider:
Judicial separation: This is not a divorce and you remain married to your partner. You cannot remarry. It is a half-way house whereby the courts recognise that you and your partner are living apart, however it is a more formal split than a separation agreement – see below. In terms of the legal process it is similar to divorce. It can be granted for any of the grounds that justify a divorce but it is not obligatory to demonstrate that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Judicial separation means that the marriage survives which might be advantageous if, for example, you are opposed to divorce on religious grounds or you want rights under a pension policy to survive (however you should check the policy to ensure you are not treated as an ex-spouse anyway). Also, the court has powers to resolve issues to do with money or children (which it would not in the case of an informal separation). Only a very small number of judicial separations happen every year compared to divorces.
Informal separation: As a married couple you don’t have to divorce. Instead you and your partner can make whatever arrangements you need (concerning home, maintenance and children) without going to court. You can formalise your own arrangements and draw up your own separation agreement. If you do that, it can be a good idea to take legal advice, as your agreement is not necessarily binding on either of you which can pose a number of risks including lack of certainty as opposed to the finality of divorce.
Thanks very much to Punam Denley, a partner at the International Family Law Group LLP for reviewing and to David Hodson, also partner at the International Family Law Group LLP, who reviewed an earlier version which appeared in A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins (LawPack , 2009). Stephen Lawson, a litigation partner at Forshaws Davies Ridgway LLP assisted with the section on the CSA.
Author: Jon Robins
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon’s books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council’s journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year’s Criminal Justice Alliance’s journalism award