Family separation and the legal storm which ensues
Family Law – Separation
As the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy opened one of his novels; ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’
There are many ways that people can start a family in the UK. People can choose to start a family when they are married or in a civil partnership or they can start a family without either of these two measures. If you and your partner decide upon separation, however, it will not matter how your family started, you will still need to go through certain legal processes.
Before we begin in earnest we should clear up a few misconceptions. If you have not entered into either a civil partnership or a marriage, your relationship has no formal legal standing and you do not qualify for any protection. There is no such thing in English law as a common law wife or anything to that effect.
There is a set of legal procedures for the separation of partners who have joined together in a civil partnership. Because a civil partnership is different legally from a marriage, the terms under which it can be dissolved are slightly different although the reasons for the separation are most likely to be the same. There are three ways a civil partnership can be brought to an end before the death of one of the partners.
A dissolution order can be granted to a partnership that has lasted longer than a year and has irreversibly broken down. The terms for a dissolution order are much the same as for a divorce with the exception of adultery. This is due to a strange quirk in English law whereby adultery is defined with having sex with a member of the opposite sex, and many civil partnerships are composed of homosexual and lesbian couples.
A separation order can be granted to partnerships that have not made a full year. Unlike a dissolution order a separation order does not represent a full separation as neither partner can become involved in a new civil partnership.
Annulments can be granted to civil partnerships that are now considered to be illegal (Voidable) or were illegal from the time they started and therefore never actually legally existed (Void).
Divorce is the legal separation of a couple that was formally linked by the bonds of matrimony. To apply for a divorce under English law you must be able to prove that the marriage has broken down and cannot be revived. To do this you must show evidence of; adultery, unreasonable behavior, two years of desertion, 2 years of separation or 5 years of separation.
To get a divorce in the UK one spouse must petition the court for divorce. After various forms and petitions have passed between the separating spouses the court will first grant a Decree Nisi, which serves as a provisional divorce order, and then a Decree Absolute, which formally brings the marriage to an end.
Any kind of separation is going to painful but these legal processes are here to provide each party with support and protection.