What is the difference between a Deed of Separation and Judicial Separation?

You have two options if you do not meet the criteria of Exceptional Hardship or Annulment before the three-year mark:

  • Obtaining a Decree of Judicial Separation from the Family Court;
  • Entering into a Deed of Separation Agreement, which does not involve any Court Proceedings.

What are the differences between a Deed of Separation and Judicial Separation? Let us explain

Deed of Separation

Judicial Separation

A deed of separation, also known as separation deed, refers to a legally binding document between a married couple, which states their mutual decision to live separately.

This formal contract documents the commencement of the separation and lays the groundwork for the terms and conditions which will govern the relationship during the separation.

The decree of a judicial separation is a court order whereby a married couple is legally separated but not divorced.


A deed of separation can only be invoked with both spouses’ consent but need not be registered with any government department or court. The couple should be legally married for no less than 3 years.

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, on the grounds of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion.


A married couple that make a mutual decision to live separately, as a:

  1. buffer period for partners to seriously consider a divorce and whether reconciliation is a possibility moral grounds
  2. precursor to divorce, acting as a private separation agreement until a married couple is eligible to file for divorce
A married couple do not wish to continue living together yet do not wish to pursue divorce proceedings due to:

  1. religious commitments
  2. moral grounds
  3. societal norms
  4. responsibility of their children.


It can be drafted by any professional lawyer, and need not be registered with any government bodies or filed in Court.

Both parties must be agreeable to the terms of the Deed of Separation.

The deed can be revoked anytime only with the consent of both parties.

In a judicial separation, parties would be entitled to similar claims as in a divorce, e.g. custody, matrimonial assets.

The court has the same range of powers as in divorce cases to issue orders on dividing the matrimonial property and providing for the custody and maintenance of children.


You may decide to reconcile with your spouse even after signing the Deed of Separation.

You may proceed with your divorce after 3 years (if your spouse consents) or 4 years (if your spouse does not consent) of separation once it satisfies the divorce prerequisites.

Once the couple has been granted a Judicial Separation, they are relieved from any marital obligations to each other and are free to permanently live apart from each other.

A judgement of Judicial Separation granted by the Court does not permit either party to remarry, since the decree of judicial separation does not terminate a marriage, unlike in divorce.

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