Is it better to get a Deed of Separation or a Judicial Separation?

Broken heart on string large

When a relationship with a partner completely breaks down and you are seeking a separation there are two types of separations that can be obtained:

  1. A Deed of Separation
  2. A Judicial Separation.

A couple can enter into a legal separation at any time. However, a legal separation will not change your marital status. Whilst you may be living separately you will not in the eyes of the law be legally separated. The benefit of a legal separation is that it can be attained at any time, unlike a divorce which takes many years. You cannot apply for a divorce until you have been separated for two out of the three years before you apply for a divorce.

Deed of Separation

In the best-case scenario, you and your partner will be able to negotiate a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement will allow you to set out the terms under which your separation is set under.

For example, a separation agreement will lay out the terms in areas such as:

  • Access to children
  • Maintenance
  • Division of property and assets
  • Inheritance

The benefits of a Deed of Separation are that it covers the majority of the practical matters and the parties have worked together to reach that agreement so tend to be more satisfied with the outcome.

In most cases, a Separation Agreement cannot deal with pensions and these can oftentimes be one of the biggest assets in the marital pool. It is also not a Court Order which people often want, it is a private agreement between two people.

Judicial Separation

If you are unable to agree on terms and conditions with your partner you can seek a separation by Order of the Court. There are a number of grounds upon which you can apply including that you have lived separate and apart for a period of one year or you cannot reasonably be expected to live together or the other person has committed adultery.

It is very important that you seek the advice of a family law solicitor as they can help ensure that you receive the best result possible. It is difficult to vary the terms of a Judicial Separation if one of the parties later seeks a decree of Divorce.

When it comes to Judicial Separation proceedings, the central issues usually revolve around access to children and financial arrangements. Both parties will be seeking a division of the assets in a way that they feel is fair to their input to the marriage.  A further complication could be if there are any assets in a company or business.


It is usually in the interests of both parties, with the help of a family law solicitor, to draw up a separation agreement that both parties can agree on as this will avoid having to put any decision in the hands of the courts. A decision from the courts can be a very crude instrument and can leave both parties feeling cheated.

Figuring out whether it is going to be better to divorce or separate can be a very difficult decision. No two cases will be the same and deciding on what is going to the correct decision can present many different obstacles and issues that will need to be considered. This is why it’s vitally important that you seek the advice of a divorce lawyer who can help navigate you towards a satisfactory outcome.

A family law solicitor near me

Liston family law are specialist family law solicitors who act in divorce and legal separations throughout Ireland. Once you book a consultation with us, we will devise a custom-made strategy to ensure that a Deed of Separation or any separation proceedings are completed in as seamless a fashion as possible.