What is Judicial Separation?

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A judicial separation is a legal process by which a married couple is formally separated, despite being legally married. It is often known has divorce from bed and board. The separation is granted in the form of a court order. Do note, however, that a separation is not granted for any reason – eg. the couple’s differences are irreconcilable or there is suspicion of adultery. The grounds for a judicial separation are:

a) Adultery: Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between two persons who are not legally married to each other and one of whom is married to another person. Thus, adultery can be committed by the husband with any woman whether married or not, or by the wife with any man, whether married or not.

b) Cruelty: Cruelty may be defined as a conduct of such character as to have caused danger to life, limb or health (bodily or mental), or as to give reasonable apprehension of such danger. In order to establish a case of cruelty against a husband, the wife must prove more than just isolated acts of violence.

c) Desertion: The cessation of cohabitation brought about by the act of the deserting spouse could be a cause for judicial separation.

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Effect of Separation

Separation isn’t the same as divorce, but it does have a similar effect with respect to inheritance or new contracts. Any property acquired subsequent to the separation can be disposed off by the spouse as if she/he were unmarried; similarly, if the spouse dies intestate, the property would be distributed among his/her heirs exactly as if the husband/wife were already deceased.

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