It is very common for people to confuse a Legal Separation with a Judicial Separation.
A legal separation is a legal contract between the separating couple that outlines the agreement reached between the parties which usually includes children and financial matters depending on what is relevant to the parties’ circumstances at the time of the break-up.
The legal separation agreement is a legally binding contract. The terms of the agreement can be reached either through the parties themselves, mediation or negotiation through solicitors.
What is important to know is that a Legal Separation agreement between two parties is a bar to applying to the court for Judicial Separation thereafter.
A Judicial Separation, however, is an application to the court in circumstances where the parties cannot reach an agreement in relation to the terms in which they will live separately.
The Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 gives the court wide discretion to make orders to the granting of a Decree of Judicial Separation.
In order to proceed by way of a Judicial Separation one of the following grounds must be met:-
The most common ground to proceed on is that the parties have not had a normal marital relationship for over 1 year.
Parties can also issue Judicial Separation proceedings where an agreement has been reached to have this made an Order of the court. It is the highest level of protection parties can obtain when they are not eligible for a divorce. If the terms are not complied with then that order is enforceable by the court.
However, when a relationship breaks down and negotiations fail to resolve outstanding issues, the parties may have no alternative but to seek the assistance of the court by way of a Judicial Separation or a Divorce depending on what is appropriate at the time.
Judicial Separation proceedings can take anything from approximately 6 months to 2 to 3 years pending on the circumstances of the case.
If you have any queries regarding the above article please do not hesitate to contact Carol McGuinness specialist family solicitor on 018333097