JUDICIAL AND LEGAL SEPARATION
"A decree of judicial separation" is a court order similar to divorce, under which the couple remains legally married but their normal marital obligations cease and they no longer have to go on living together.
In judicial separation cases, the court has the same range of powers as in divorce cases to issue orders on dividing the matrimonial property and assets; and providing for the arrangements, support and maintenance of children.
The application procedure for a judicial separation starts with one of the parties, with our help and advice, presenting a "Judicial Separation Petition" to the Court. A divorce petition can be used for this purpose, as long as it is amended by deleting the references to the marriage having "broken down" and the intention to dissolve the marriage.
The grounds for judicial separation are much the same as for divorce, except that there is no requirement to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and the couple does not have to have been married for any minimum length of time. As with divorce petitions, grounds for judicial separation are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for at least two years, separation with consent for two years or separation without consent for five years.
The main circumstances under which judicial separation takes place are when one or both of the parties are opposed to divorce, perhaps for religious reasons; when the couple have been married for less than a year, during which there is an absolute ban on divorce; or when it may be difficult to provide the evidence of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage which is necessary for divorce.
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