When a marriage breaks down the couple will generally agree to separate, ie live separate and apart.  For most people this process means engaging in some form of negotiation to agree things like where the children will live, how much time each parent will spend with the children and how living expenses, property and other financial matters will be organised between you.  Most people require help with this negotiation.

Solicitors are there to provide that help, by advice and practical assistance.  If you and your spouse are able to, you can start the process of negotiating an agreement quickly.  You can opt for collaboration or mediation as the means to bring you to this end or alternatively you can have two firms of solicitors negotiate an agreement on your behalf.  You can also apply to court for Judicial Separation ie separation by means of court order rather than by agreement.  Legislation governs the application to court, ie The Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 and the Family Law Act 1995.  The legislation sets out the basis on which one is entitled to apply to court for a judicial separation and in general you and your spouse must have experienced marital breakdown for a year or more.

Your family law solicitor will be able to explain to you in detail what qualifies as marital breakdown from a court’s point of view.  It is possible in other circumstances to apply inside the year and again legal advice is required in order to determine if you qualify in this regard.  Most people when they separate will take some time with their solicitors to try and negotiate before applying to court so generally the 12 months requirement does not in practice prove difficult to satisfy.

Separation does not entitled you to remarry.  Most separation agreements are completed with divorce in mind and generally speaking most couples intend their agreement on separation to also form the basis for their divorce.