A couple may decide to separate but not immediately feel the need to get a divorce. This does not mean, however that they should not take legal advice and put their separation on a legal footing.
Not doing so can lead to quarrels over household bills, possessions, how best to deal with joint assets and the best arrangements for any children involved. Whilst a couple may part as ‘friends’ initially and feel that they can trust each other, doubts and problems can arise as time passes, circumstances change or new partners come into their lives.
Getting a separation agreement
A separation agreement, also known as a Deed of Separation, records who is to have what and what the parties’ responsibilities are. The purpose of the deed is for both parties to come to an agreement on how they would like their assets dealt with in any future divorce proceedings and could therefore avoid the cost and inconvenience of court proceedings at a later stage.
Before preparing a separation agreement, each party must produce full and frank financial disclosure, with documentary evidence of their assets and liabilities. This information is exchanged and a discussion takes place between the parties so that an explicit separation agreement
can be drawn up.
A couple may be able to agree the division of assets between themselves and ask a divorce lawyer to write up the agreement by preparing the Deed of Separation.
If the couple are not able to agree they may each appoint a family lawyer to advise them.
Woolley & Co can help in drawing up a separation agreement and provide advice on the terms of such agreements. Call 0800 321 3832 to arrange a telephone appointment with one of our family law experts.
What you need to know about separation agreements?
The separation agreement includes such information as the names and address of the parties and any children of the family. It will record the date of marriage and the date of separation. It will confirm where the children are to live and if necessary how often they will see the other parent. If there is a property that is to be sold, it will state details of the proposed sale and the division of the proceeds of the sale. It will also record any financial agreement reached between the parties concerning all other assets and maintenance payments to be made. An agreement of this kind is not a court order and the court are not involved in its preparation. In other words, it’s a “gentleman’s agreement” which the parties would feel morally bound to keep. They are helpful in obtaining an agreement on the division of assets should a divorce follow the separation. The separation agreement can be shown to the court when a formal order is applied for to record the terms agreed and also if the agreement breaks down the court can be asked for its opinion on whether there was an agreement that should be binding upon the parties. The court would need to know that the agreement was entered into voluntarily by both parties and that they each had the opportunity to seek independent legal advice prior to signing the agreement. This helps to strengthen the case that the agreement should be binding.
The time it takes to finalise financial affairs at the end of a marriage can be significantly reduced when a separation agreement has previously been drawn up.
Read The Legal Implications of Marriage
to better understand why it’s important to make your separation legally binding.
Need help or advice?
If you need advice on ending a relationship call Woolley & Co on 0800 3213832
or book a free telephone appointment with a family lawyer