Weighing up the importance of religious beliefs and legally ending a marriage

There are people who may want to separate but the legal ending of their marriage is in fact not in their best interests.  Therefore it is important for family lawyers to take into account the client’s specific circumstances when dealing with the breakdown of a relationship, specifically to consider whether it is divorce of judicial separation the parties are seeking.

A separation can be especially hard for a person who is religious. Religion is a large part of many people’s lives and beliefs can strongly influence daily activities and family relations. It is important that when a client knows their marriage has ended that advice can be given to ensure their decision has as manageable an impact on their beliefs and social environment as possible.

The judicial separation procedure is in fact similar to a divorce and can only be obtained by one party relies on one of the five facts set out by the court;

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Having lived apart for more than two years
  5. Having lived apart for more than  five years

Although the procedure starts the same it is important that a client is aware of the differences and impact of issuing a judicial separation petition.

The most important thing for a client to be aware of is the fact that the judicial separation decree does not allow for them to get remarried, it simply means they are not legally obliged to live together. It can also be used by parties not having been married for the requisite one year required for a divorce.

Once the decree is pronounced a spouse will lose rights which are afforded to married couples, including rights in relation to inheritance. For example, if a provision is made for one spouse in the others will, after the decree it will be as though the person due to receive a sum from the will has effectively been written out of the will.

It is also important to be aware that a separation can allow for the parties to finalise a division of their financial assets by way of consent or a court order. The only bar to this is that a pension sharing order cannot be obtained. This is possible only where there has been a legal end to the marriage through divorce.

As this is a procedure not used frequently it is important that people with strong religious beliefs know that even though their marriage has broken down, there is a way for them to move forward, without compromising their values.

At TV Edwards LLP, we have specialist solicitors with expertise in this area. If you need legal advice relating to such proceedings then please contact our specialist team on 0203 440 8000 or  by email: A_FamilyReferrals@tvedwards.com

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