Because life is never always black and white, you may find yourself at a low point in your relationship where things are not going well, but you do not yet want the finality of a Divorce. Separation can provide you with an alternative.
What is a Separation Agreement?
A Separation Agreement is a written agreement between a couple who intend to stop living together. It sets out how they wish to sort out finances and property, as well as arrangements for the ongoing care of children. The advantage of a written agreement is that it is easier to make sure that you both understand what has been agreed.
A Separation Agreement can set out areas for agreement such as:
- how to split money, property and possessions
- a desire to have no further contact, or minimal contact with an ex-partner
- financial support (maintenance) for one partner.
- A separation agreement would normally say that maintenance will stop if the partner starts living together with a new partner. However any agreement not to apply to Court in the future for financial support is not binding.
- financial support (maintenance) for any children of the relationship.
- Any agreement not to apply to a court or to the Child Support Agency in the future is not binding
- other arrangements for children, for example, where they should live and who they will have contact with.
Advantages of a Separation Agreement:
- It releases both parties from their duty to cohabit with each other, thus preventing either of them from alleging that the other is in desertion.
- It provides evidence that the parties looked upon the relationship as at an end and the date at which it came to an end
- It is flexible, as it can include any terms which the parties wish.
- If its terms are observed, an agreement may serve to take the heat out of the breakdown of the relationship and will enable both parties to know where they stand.
Disadvantages of a Separation Agreement
- It is not easy to enforce.
- It cannot achieve the same degree of finality as a Court order.
- It can only be changed if both parties agree to the change
- Some or all of the terms may be disregarded by a Court in divorce proceedings
In order to ensure a Separation Agreement is legally binding, both parties must disclose their finances and seek independent legal advice.
If a couple later decides to enter into divorce proceedings, both parties can invite the Court to incorporate the financial terms of their Separation Agreement into a formal Consent Order. The existence of the Separation Agreement will be one of the factors for the Court to take into account when it considers the application for financial orders.
If there have been substantial changes in circumstances then the Court may decide that the original terms are no longer fair and disregard the terms of the agreement.
Click here to learn more about Divorce Settlements & Financial Orders.
Click here to learn more about Divorce/Separation & Children.
If you would like to speak to our Family Law team about a Separation Agreement, please call us at Freephone 0800 316 4434 or locally at 01252 361 200 or email us.
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