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3 Divorce and Separation

pdf icon Download Divorce and Separation (PDF File, 381kb)

To download a PDF version of this leaflet click on the PDF icon above. PDF files require you to have a copy of Acrobat® Reader in order to be able to read them. This piece of software is freely available from the download pages on Adobe's web site.

1. Introduction

This leaflet outlines your legal position if you are married or in a civil partnership and considering separation or divorce.

It explains:

  • Where to start
  • Separation
  • Divorce
  • If you have children
  • Supporting your children
  • Money and property
  • Making arrangements should you die
  • Dealing with emergencies
  • Terms used in divorce and family law
  • Further help.

This leaflet explains how the law applies to civil partners as well as married couples. Throughout the leaflet, we use the word ‘partner’ to mean a husband, wife or civil partner, and 'married' to mean either being married or in a civil partnership. However, we don’t use 'partner' for people who live together but who are not married or in a civil partnership.

The law is mostly the same for marriages and civil partnerships, but where there are differences we explain them. Sometimes just the legal words are different. For example, the equivalent of divorce for civil partners is officially called 'dissolution', but throughout the leaflet we use 'divorce' for both married couples and civil partners.

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See 'Further help' for sources of information and advice.

You may be feeling very upset and bitter when you are reading this leaflet. Family break-ups bring out the worst in most of us. But try to remember that if you do decide to divorce or separate, there are advantages in trying to keep things polite and civilised between you and your partner.

In the first place, the legal proceedings will cost less. There is no point wasting money over an argument if there is another way of reaching an agreement.

If you have children, a bitter fight will only harm them. Try to put them first.

A fight will also be more damaging for you. Once the divorce is over, you will have to get on with the rest of your life. It is harder to do this if you know you have behaved badly.

There is information on:

2. Where to start

3. Separation

4. Divorce

5. If you have children

6. Supporting your children

7. Money and property

8. Making arrangements should you die

9. Dealing with emergencies

10. Terms used in divorce and family law

11. Further Help

12. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor and mediator specialising in family law.

Leaflet version: May 2009

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