Either party to a marriage can make an application to Court for a Decree of Judicial Separation if the parties cannot agree on the terms of a Separation Agreement and have been made aware of alternative forms of dispute resolution such as counselling and mediation.
Court proceedings are heard privately “in camera” meaning that only the couple and their legal advisors can be present in Court.
The Court can make orders on matters relating to:
- Maintenance for Spouse and children
- Custody and access arrangements for the children
- The debts and liabilities of the parties
- Division of Assets and the Family Home
- Inheritance rights
- Taxation issues
- Pensions Adjustments
An application by a spouse for Judicial Separation must be based on one of the following grounds:
- One party has committed adultery.
- One party has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect the other spouse to continue to live with them.
- One party has deserted the other for at least one year at the time of the application.
- The parties have lived apart from one another for one year up to the time of the application and both parties agree to the decree being granted.
- The parties have lived apart from one another for at least three years at the time of the application for the decree (whether or not both parties agree to the decree being granted).
- The court considers that a normal marital relationship has not existed between the spouses for at least one year before the date of the application for the decree.
Following a decree of Judicial Separation, the spouses will not have the right to marry or enter into a civil partnership. A decree of divorce is required to facilitate the right to marry.