Informal separation

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Informal separation

If you are married or in a civil partnership the date of separation is important if you want to divorce or dissolve the civil partnership in the future. This is because the separation period may have an important impact should your informal separation lead to divorce or dissolution at a later date.

What is an informal separation in a marriage?

Informal separation is where a couple has chosen to live separate lives but not taken the step to end the relationship – whether a marriage or a civil partnership – legally.

Whilst it is not necessary to go to court for an informal separation, it is important that you document both the date the separation began, as well as anything you agree in terms of division of property, finances and arrangements for children.

When did we separate?

If you are married or in a civil partnership the date of separation is important as there can be tax implications that arise if certain assets are transferred after the tax year of separation.

If you decide on a date when you will separate and one of you moves out of the home then the date of separation is likely to be when one of you moved out – when you are not legally separated but living apart.

It is more complicated when you carry on living in the same house. Sometimes this has to happen because the house is on the market and it would be a waste of money if one person moved out and pays rent when there is a mortgage on the family home that still needs to be paid.

It is possible to separate even though you are staying in the same house if the following applies:

  • You live like flatmates
  • You do not do each others washing and ironing
  • You do not prepare meals for the other
  • You lead separate lives
  • You do not go out together as a couple
  • You start to separate your finances as much as you can
  • You do not have a physical relationship with each other

Do we need to do anything formal?

Make a note of the date when you either physically separate, one of you moves out, or you start to live completely separate lives although still living in the same home.

Whilst it is not a legal requirement to have any special declaration, some couples may wish to put in place a separation agreement or at least document some of the key decisions that they have taken to informally separate.

Try to agree on the date of separation if you continue to live in the same home, make a note of how you are living separate lives.

What is the difference between formal and informal separation?

In the simplest terms, informal separation is where a couple choose to live apart but have not taken the step to end the relationship legally – that is through divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Informal separation is often thought of as a ‘trial separation’, as it gives spouses time to think about how life would be living apart. In some cases, informal separation can create space for people to repair their relationship, whereas in other cases it can be the first step towards divorce or a formal separation.

How our informal separation solicitors can help

Our team of family law specialists are experts in divorce and separation and understand that informal separation can still be an incredibly difficult time for couples. We are one of only a small number of family law firms to have a family consultant fully embedded in our team. Kim Crewe is our trained relationship therapist who is there to help couples navigate their way through the process of separation

If you are entering a separated relationship, or have taken this step already, you might want to take steps to protect your best interests to limit the risk of disputes over things like property, finances and arrangements for children or step-children in the future. An informal separation agreement is a bespoke document, that should be drawn up by a family lawyer, to document the terms of the informal separation.

If you are planning an informal separation then you might want to seek the advice of a family lawyer beforehand. They can help you understand your legal position – now and in the future –  as well as ensuring that you are in the best possible position should you decide to separate from your partner formally through divorce or dissolving your civil partnership.

Contact our friendly, professional informal separation solicitors

If you would like an appointment with one of our specialists in Brighton, London, Horsham, Kent, Essex, North Hampshire & Surrey or South/Mid Hampshire then please contact us on 0330 055 2234.

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