Separation Agreements

There may be occasions in a marriage or civil partnerships where there a need for some breathing space. A separation that might be temporary or simply because there is not the immediate need to divorce or apply for a dissolution of the civil partnership. In these circumstances, Separation Agreements are often considered.  

Also called a ‘legal separation’, it allows you to document how your separation will work and how you can both manage your finances whilst you consider if there is a chance to reconcile, or if you have been married less than a year.

The Agreement formally sets out financial matters such as which bills each party will pay, who will pay the rent or mortgage and whether there will be spousal and childcare maintenance payments. Separation Agreements also spell out what will happen with the sale proceeds if a shared asset or property is sold. 

It is also beneficial to enter into such an Agreement if there are assets from a previous marriage, as you may want to agree what is, and what isn’t, matrimonial assets. It can also be used to confirm the arrangements any children.

Are They Legally Binding?

Most often, the financial agreement contained within a Separation Agreement is reflected in a financial consent order when you come to divorce or apply for a dissolution of your civil partnership. However, if one party challenges the Agreement, the court could disregard the terms. Nevertheless, if such a document is drafted correctly, it is easier to persuade the court that it should not deviate from the terms. Our divorce and civil partnership solicitors at Robertsons Family Law can help you draft your Separation Agreement to hold up in court.

Our team can advise and assist in catering for your individual needs.  We can discuss why a legal separation may be the best route for you. We will explain what needs to be done straightforwardly and guide you through drafting the Agreement customised to your situation. 

FAQs on Separation Agreements

Is a separation agreement compulsory?

No, you don’t need a Separation Agreement, but it is a good idea. Not only can it help to keep things amicable, but the framework will exist where both you and your partner know how you will split your finances and assets in the event there is no reconciliation.

Can I enforce a separation agreement?

You will typically apply to the court for a financial order if you are married or in a civil partnership and if you want to enforce a Separation Agreement.

What about arrangements for children? Can we cover this in a separation agreement?

Arrangements for children are not legally binding in a Separation Agreement, although they can be included. You will have to apply formally for a child arrangements order if you want your Agreement to stand up in court.

Can we write our own separation agreement?

In theory, you can. However, should there be a dispute in future, the court is not likely to accept your homemade Separation Agreement. Therefore, it is worth investing in the services of a professional solicitor as it could save you a lot in legal fees over the long run.

Does a separation agreement have an expiry date?

Such an Agreement cannot expire, although you will usually replace it with a more appropriate order once you decide what to do. For instance, if you choose to divorce, you will replace the Separation Agreement with a consent order.   

The longer the time since you created the Separation Agreement, the more likely it is that your circumstances changed in the interim.  

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