If you are married
Some married couples separate but never divorce, being happy to simply stay apart. All you need to do to be legally separated is live apart.
Officially, you can even be separated but still live under the same roof, if you arrange your household so that you no longer sleep or eat together and you do not do domestic chores, such as washing or ironing, for each other.
If you separate for two years or more and both agree to the separation, this can be the basis for any future divorce.
If you decide not to get divorced, your marital assets and debts will remain joint in the eyes of the law. This may not be a problem for many couples, but it’s a good idea to think what impact it might have on future life changes, for instance if you want to move in with a new partner.
If you are not married
If you own or rent a property then any dispute about what happens to it will be dealt with through property and trust law rather than matrimonial law. Many people believe that living together creates some protection through ‘common law’ but this is not the case. If you have children there are laws to ensure that financial provision can be made for them (for instance somewhere to live and sufficient child support) but generally if you are not married there is no expectation that one person can claim any of the assets owned by the other.
Some of the questions that mediation can help you solve are: If the property is in a sole name, have you made equal contributions to the mortgage and upkeep of the property? Are you tenants in common or joint tenants?
What will happen to our joint accounts? What about maintenance for myself? Does the fact that you have children make a difference to the property?
Our expert mediators are able to help you tailor an agreement which fits your specific circumstances. Type your postcode to find your nearest family mediator