How to Start a Separation

Jan 07, 2021   ·   5 minute read
Couple with divorce contract and ring on desk. Divorce

It can be very difficult to know where to start if you are thinking about ending a marriage or separating from your partner. In this article we answer some of your frequently asked questions on how to start a separation.

How do I separate?

You may think the answer to the question ‘’how do I separate?’’ is self-evident – you leave or you pack your partner’s bags and make them leave the family home. However, family solicitors will tell you that both life and family law are more complicated than that. One of the difficulties with answering the question ‘’how do I separate?’’ is that every person’s personal and financial circumstances are different. It is therefore essential that you get family law legal advice that is tailored to you. Here are just a few examples of why that is best to get legal advice on your circumstances:

  • You may be in an unmarried relationship and renting a property – if you leave the property because your partner refuses to go then you may remain liable for the rent if the tenancy agreement was taken out in your name
  • If you are from overseas and in the UK on a family visa (such as a spouse visa or a fiance visa) your separation may affect your immigration status so it is important to clarify that before you separate
  • If you plan to return home overseas with your children then you may need your spouse or partner’s written agreement or a children court order before you can take your children out of the UK. Without that agreement or court order you could be accused of child abduction under UK children law and international family law. You could be forced to return the children back to the UK so it is best to take legal advice on child relocation law if you plan to take your children abroad after your separation
  • If you leave the family home then your husband or wife may have no incentive to reach a financial settlement with you because they are in the house and won’t want to either sell it or pay you your share of the equity in the family home. If your partner refuses to leave and you are in an abusive relationship then you may have the grounds to apply for an injunction order to make your partner leave the property until you or the court makes long term decisions about whether the property should be sold or whether one of you should live in it
  • If you are in an unmarried relationship and the property is owned in the sole name of your partner you may think that you have no legal rights and have no option but to leave. However you may have an equitable interest in the property. In addition, if you have young children you may be able to bring a housing claim (called a schedule 1 Children Act application by family lawyers) for the provision of a house for the children
  • If you leave the family home and the mortgage is in your joint names you remain jointly and severally liable to pay the mortgage. If the mortgage isn’t paid then this will affect the credit rating of you and your partner and it may impact on your ability to get another mortgage. It is best to reach an agreement on the mortgage payments if you are leaving the family home and will have the added expense of renting a property
  • You want to stay at the family home with the children but your partner says they won’t help out financially so you are the one who thinks that they have to leave. In your circumstances, you may be able to ask the Child Maintenance Service to award you child support and, if you are married, you may also be able to apply to court for spousal maintenance.

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Starting a separation

Whatever your personal or financial circumstances starting a separation is never an easy decision. Alternatively a separation may have been foisted on you by the decision or behaviour of your partner. If you are the one who is taking the decision to separate it is best to talk to a friend or family member or therapist to help you make the right decision for you. Family law legal advice will make sure that you know your legal options and the best choices for you and your family when it comes to the decision of whether you should be the one to leave the family home and the timing of your separation.

Manchester and Cheshire Family Law Solicitors

Evolve Family Law advises on separation, divorce proceedings, financial arrangements on separation, long term financial settlements, child custody and contact and private client matters (Wills and powers of attorney).


For legal assistance with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law or complete our online enquiry form. The Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but the family law solicitors and Will lawyers also offer remote meetings by telephone or video call appointment.