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If you and your spouse or partner do not wish to divorce of dissolve your civil partnership, you may decide to obtain a Decree of Judicial Separation instead. The court procedure is the same as divorce and dissolution except that you remain married to your spouse or in a civil partnership with your partner. The court can make the same financial orders as it does in divorce and dissolution proceedings.
Another alternative to divorce and dissolution is to simply live separately from your spouse or partner and deal with the divorce or dissolution later. In this instance, you should consider having a Separation Agreement formalising the financial arrangements you have made in respect of matters such as maintenance, division of capital and property (including the matrimonial home) and care of the children.
The terms of the Separation Agreement will not override matrimonial and civil partnership law, which means either you or your spouse/partner can ask the court to deal with the issue of division of family assets as part of later divorce or dissolution proceedings. The existence of a Separation Agreement will however be viewed by the court as “one of the factors” to be considered when making a final order. The court is more likely to uphold the terms of a Separation Agreement on divorce or dissolution if you have both provided each other with full and frank financial disclosure, you have both had independent legal advice prior to signing the document, and your circumstances have not significantly changed since the date you signed the Separation Agreement.
Another alternative to divorce or dissolution, is to obtain a Decree of Nullity. A Decree of Nullity may declare a marriage or civil partnership to be either void, in which case it is treated as never having existed at all, or voidable, in which case it will be treated as being valid until the Decree of Nullity is obtained.