Separating or divorcing: what you need to do
There are certain things you need to do when you separate from your partner in England or Wales.
If you have children
You and your ex-partner must share financial support for your children (‘child maintenance’).
You also need to make arrangements for looking after your children.
Agreeing these things is separate from doing legal paperwork to officially end your relationship.
If you’re married or in a civil partnership
You need to divide your money and property. If you want this to be legally binding, you must apply to a court before finalising legal paperwork to divorce or end your civil partnership.
Dividing money and property is different if you’re not married or in a civil partnership.
Ending your marriage
Get a divorce to officially end your marriage.
If you don’t want a divorce, you can:
- get a legal separation so you can live apart without ending the marriage
- annul the marriage if it counts as ‘defective’ or isn’t legally valid
Ending your civil partnership
You can officially end your civil partnership.
Get a legal separation instead if you want to live apart without ending the civil partnership.
Making agreements about children, money and property
You can usually avoid going to court hearings if you can make your own agreements.
You’ll still need to send legal paperwork to a court to officially end your relationship, or make legally binding agreements.
You can get help agreeing (using mediation, for example). Check if you can get legal aid for mediation.
You can usually only get legal aid for court costs if you’re separating from an abusive partner.
Get more information
You can get advice and information about legal paperwork and making arrangements from: