Ending a relationship
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.
Links to information and advice on the GOV.UK website
Getting separated or divorced
- Separating or divorcing: what you need to do
- Get a legal separation
- Annul a marriage
- Divorce or end a civil partnership if your partner is missing
- Get a copy of a decree absolute or final order
- Money and property when you divorce or separate
- Get a divorce
- End a civil partnership
- Visas when you separate or divorce
- Contact with your grandchild if their parents divorce or separate
- Making child arrangements if you divorce or separate
- Child Maintenance Service
- Staying in your partner's property during a divorce or separation
Help and support if you have children
- Childcare Grant
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Childcare out of school hours
- Find a Sure Start Children's Centre
- The law on leaving your child on their own
You can get advice and information about legal paperwork and making arrangements from:
- What are the different stages of a relationship?
- 13 assumptions that people make when starting a new relationship
- Challenging the assumption that relationships are smooth sailing and without conflict
- Ending a relationship
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