How to use separation solicitors

Under UK law, whether you are in a civil marriage or civil partnership, you now have substantially similar rights. If you are unsure of your current legal status, it is a good idea to consult separation solicitors before separating, or immediately afterwards. It is important to know your legal rights, as these can have a profound impact on any separation you are contemplating.

Legal issues relating to separation

Whether you are separating or divorcing, separation solicitors can be invaluable. You may need separation solicitors in relation to the separation or divorce process itself, and/or to sort out consequent issues in relation to children and property.

Generally you need to be married for 12 months before you can apply for a divorce. However, if you have not been married for 12 months, you can still apply for a Judicial Separation. A Judicial Separation allows you to apply for a court order to settle any disputes you have about:

  • Children
  • Money
  • Property

To obtain a divorce you need to establish that the marriage has broken down 'irretrievably'. There are five main reasons or facts which the court will accept as proof of this. Separation for a certain period of time will ordinarily suffice. For example, if you live separately from your spouse for more than five years, your divorce will normally be granted even if it is contested.

Same-sex relationships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gives civil partnerships the same legal rights as married couples and thus both types of union have similar legal standings in relation to matters such as:

  • Property rights
  • Pensions
  • Tax
  • Child support
  • Insurance
  • Inheritance


A separation lawyer can be invaluable if you are cohabiting with someone that separates from you. Note that there has not been a legal partnership called ‘common law marriage’ since 1753. If you have lived with your partner for several years, you are not common law man and wife, as this definition does not exist under UK law as a legal term.

Therefore, if your partner does separate from you there can be many consequences including financial risks that your separation lawyer can help you with.

The law surrounding separation can be highly complex and should not be interpreted by anyone other than a qualified separation lawyer. Every town and city in the UK will have a separation lawyer you can use. They are often part of larger law firms, or are individual lawyers who specialise in family law matters.

As there can be a large number of things to consider following separation, consulting separation solicitors can make the process easier, less stressful, and ensure that your interests are protected. You will be able to find qualified separation solicitors in your area that can help, advise, and support you.

Want more information on same-sex rights? See our specialist FAQ page on same-sex relationships.

Call us for free on 0800 533 5787 or use the web-form to the right to speak to an advisor who can put you in touch with the right solicitor for your needs.

Important information

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