When a marriage is in difficulty, a trial separation is usually the first step so that both parties can consider whether they want to stay together or divorce.

What are the different ways of separating?

There are four main ways of legally separating. Firstly, you can have a simple agreement to live apart.

Secondly, both parties can set up a formalized agreement to live apart, set out in a formal separation deed. The advantage of this is that it can give a framework which the courts can use later if necessary.

Thirdly, the relatively rare judicial separation means that the parties are not free to remarry but they don’t have to live together. However, if one dies intestate, the other can claim on the estate. Judicial separation is used mainly when religious beliefs do not allow divorce.

Finally, the court can grant an occupation order against a violent spouse so that he or she must leave the house.

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