The Society’s Royal Charter does not let us support someone who is still legally married (or in a civil partnership) regardless of:
- how long they have been living apart from their spouse / partner; or
- the reasons why they are no longer living with their spouse / partner.
For example, this means we CANNOT currently support a woman who is still married to her husband even if she has had no contact with him for a long time, nor can we support a married woman who is fleeing domestic violence unless she has a formal separation agreement from her husband (which we know is very unlikely).
The Society recognises that this definition excludes a number of women who we would otherwise want to support, but the terms of our Royal Charter are clear. Changing a Royal Charter is currently a complicated, time consuming and expensive process that ultimately requires the Monarch’s consent, although the Scottish Government have indicated that they may make changes to the Law to simplify the process of amending Royal Charters. However, for the time being the Society must operate within the terms of our Charter as it stands.
Formal Separation Agreement
The one exception to this criteria is if a married couple have a “formal separation agreement”. These are often drawn up by lawyers and it may be in your interests to get legal advice about getting such an agreement to ensure your interests are protected. However, separation agreements do not have to involve lawyers and the Society tries to be flexible about what we will accept as a “formal separation agreement” but at minimum it should be:
- in writing;
- set out an agreement between the couple about the nature of their separation and ideally be clear about how they will divide their assets and who will be responsible for any liabilities or debts;
- be signed by both members of the couple.
Please call us if you are unsure whether the Society will accept you as being single as we do not want people to go to the time and effort of applying for support if they are unlikely to qualify.