What are my options when it comes to divorce/separation?

These days, more and more married couples are opting for separation rather than divorce. Despite the fact that Britain has the highest rate of divorce in the EU, those rates have, generally speaking, steadily fallen over the last 40 years. Divorce was very common in the 1970s and had brief comebacks in 2000 and 2010, but aside from this, official splits have decreased. According to the Daily Mail, as of July 2012, divorce rates are at a 40-year low. This decrease may be due to an increase in separation rather than divorce. Separation might be a better option for you if you are uncertain about legally ending your marriage, are worried about the costs of a legal divorce or want to have a trial separation before making any final decisions.

What are the options if I want to leave my spouse?


Separation could mean simply walking out on your partner. Though if you have shared assets or children, it is best to have a conversation about your intent to separate and attempt to leave amicably. You do not need to seek legal advice to separate, as long as you can agree on how to split any assets you share and agree who will take primary care of your children. However, if you fear an amicable separation will not be possible, you may want to employ a solicitor to write up documentation which will determine who gets what if a shared property is sold. Separation is a good option if you are unsure about permanently ending your marriage. Many couples try a trial separation for a number of months and put measures in place in order to attempt to salvage their marriage.

Judicial separation

This is rare. You remain legally married but the court recognises your separation formally. This is useful in situations where, for example, one or both of the partners has a strong religious objection to divorce or you want to have legal standing when it comes to financial or property issues.


Divorce is the final option if you no longer wish to be with your spouse. Divorce is the legal ending of your marriage and means you cannot change your mind. To get a divorce, you will have to show that your marriage is beyond repair and claim one of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for at least 2 years
  • Two years separation and agreement from both parties
  • Five years separation

It is up to you to decide what the best option is. Depending on your circumstances, you may feel separation is more suitable than divorce or vice versa. Whichever course of action you decide to take, seeking expert advice is always a good idea. If you have a family together you may want to consider seeking advice around family law. Family law deals with any family related matters and seeks to retain harmony within families who are facing difficult domestic situations including divorce and parental issues. Therefore if you fear you and your spouse will not be able to resolve issues between you, employing a specialist in family law may make the process of your separation or divorce a little easier to cope with.

Consideration was given for the editing and publishing of this article