Making separation work for you if you are not ready to divorce

Separation can be viewed as a trial period to assess your relationship, or as precursor to divorce. In either case, it’s sensible to have a Separation Agreement to set out what will happen to your children, property and finances while you are separated. As experienced separation solicitors, we will give you practical advice and draw up an agreement that safeguards your interests while giving you flexibility for the future.

A divorce can seem an irrevocable step, and many couples opt for a period of separation to see if it changes the way they feel. Whether you’re choosing separation to assess your relationship or as a precursor to divorce, you’ll benefit from legal advice to know exactly where you stand, in terms of your children, finances and jointly owned assets.

How can we help you?

Many couples in this situation find it helpful to enter into a Separation Agreement (sometimes called a Deed of Separation). If you plan to separate for two years and then get a divorce, you should ask experienced separation agreement solicitors to help prepare the documents for any arrangements you’ve made between you.

Adultery during separation

Adultery can still take place even though a married couple are separated, and it can be used as grounds for divorce, provided it’s acted on within six months of knowledge.

Making arrangements for the care of your children

It’s important you think carefully about the care of your children when you separate from your partner. The older they are, the more likely they will want to be involved in discussions and express their opinion about these arrangements. There’s more information on our children page.

Property rights

Your property rights don’t usually change when you separate. If you jointly own a property, you’ll still be joint owners, although your shares may change over time. If you are married and the family home is in your spouse’s sole name, it’s sensible to register a Matrimonial Homes Rights Notice against the title of the property. This should prevent it being sold, mortgaged or otherwise dealt with while you are separated, possibly without your knowledge. As expert legal separation solicitors, we can give you advice about property and prepare this notice for you.

Tax implications of separation

Transfers of property between spouses in the ‘tax year’ of separation [ 6.4-5.4 ] are tax neutral for Capital Gains Tax purposes, but not after this. Do bear this in mind when contemplating the timing of any separation.

Currently if you have left your marital home more than 18 months before you dispose of your interest in it by sale, or transfer to your former partner, you may incur Capital Gains Tax. For any disposals by sale or transfer after 6th April 2020, this time period reduces to 9 months. Please do think about this and take tax advice before contemplating leaving the marital home, particularly if you are considering an extended period of time before dealing with the marital home. Unless you agree with your former partner how any such liability will be met, it will be your personal responsibility to pay this.

You can be separated, but remain both living in the marital home. We can provide advice about this.

Seeking legal advice

It’s well worth seeking an experienced solicitor’s advice on separation if it is something you are considering. We’ve known couples reconcile after a period of separation and feel reassured they had the support of a solicitor to make clear arrangements for their children, finances, and assets. Your individual interests are protected while you are separated, and in the long term, it will make life easier whether you decide to divorce or are able to reconcile.

We’ll be ready to discuss all the legal aspects of separation with you, individually or together. We will also give you advice about the documentation you need, and draft it for you with as much or as little detail as you wish. In terms of our solicitor’s fees for a separation agreement draft, this will be discussed with you in full at the time, or you can contact our family law team for more information, on 023 8071 8000.

Contact our solicitors

Get in touch with our legal experts for advice.