What is Separation?

Separation is the unfortunate event that occurs to all too many couples in the UK. The heights of the wedding day soon disappear and they are left with an unmanageable relationship. Although they may not be able to drive in the final nail that provokes divorce, they still need to remove themselves from each other’s company in a permanent separation.

Why Separation?

There are many reasons for separation ahead of the, often complicated divorce procedure. It can often be because the couple have merely fallen out of love with each other, and there is no animosity between the two. Similarly they could still harbour strong feeling for one another, yet are unable to work their relationship around certain commitments or issues. However, there are some stand out reasons to why this method is taken.

Involvement of children

When children are involved the process of separation or divorce becomes increasingly difficult. Often the couple will chose to stick to a low key separation, sorting out all financial issues between themselves in order to maintain a degree of normality for their infants.

Legal fees

The process of separation will save a packet on legal fees in comparison to divorce. The array of documents and intricate details regarding divorce law mean that a solicitor is a necessity, and it can become a very costly experience for both.


In many religions, divorce is seen as one of the ultimate sins and can have an extreme effect on one of the parties. If this is the case they may compromise by trying a separation instead.


Often the couples separating will be older and have no desire to re-marry. In this case they would rather avoid the hassle associated with divorce and simply live out the rest of their lives alone.

Legal Separation

In the UK, you have no obligation to record your separation from your spouse until you decide to get re-married. However, a lot of couples like to record their separation, in order to keep a classified account of what has transpired. This can be due to a number of reasons.

Tax Benefits

By classing each other as separate entities, the two parties will be entitled to luxuries that they were not allowed as a couple. Increase child allowance, tax relief’s and decreased council tax are just some of the enhancements.


Couples will often like to record an agreed division of time between the two of them when it comes to their kids. This can often be done in fear that one party will have a change of heart and withhold custody.

Second Marriage

They can also set out a statute that in the event that one party meets a new person that they would comply with a divorce on the same terms as a separation. This could be because they would like to re-marry, or just remove the stigma of being married and involved in a serious relationship with another partner.

Effects on the family

The effects of separation on the family can be two-fold, with both negative and positive aspects to the procedure. For starters, you should have explored all possible avenues to salvage your relationship.

As soon as children are involved, this decision is extremely important and both parties should act selflessly in order to maintain a happy home environment. However, if all measures have been exhausted and there is nothing left to work with, then separation is at least the first way to begin your journey apart, and inevitably this will have countering effects of your children.


On the up side, it shows your kids that your relationship hasn’t completely subsided. You are still civil enough to work together in the division of property and child support. It also leaves the door open to a restoration of the relationship once both mum and dad have spent time apart. Finally, in most cases it will mean that the kids will be able to remain in the family home, not disturbing their life pattern even further.


However, in all of these situations the decision to go ahead with a separation is going to upset the children involved. Up to this point they have seen their parents as a conjoined authority and the two most important figures in their lives, so it will always provoke a lot of stress and sadness.

The term separation may also offer false hope, as it is not a legal divorce prompting optimism to a return to normality at some point in the future.

Article written by...
Nicola Laver LLB
Nicola Laver LLB

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A non-practising solicitor, Nicola is also a fully qualified journalist. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a legal journalist, editor and author.