There are certain things you need to do when you separate from your partner in England or Wales.

What you do is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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:

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.

The Sorting Out Separation website has more information about divorce and separation. You can also contact Citizens Advice for advice about what to do in your situation.