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Separation Agreements: Are they legally binding?

By , on Thursday June 29, 2023 at 3:58 pm

Separation Agreements: Are they legally binding?

Knowing where you stand during separation can be very difficult to comprehend, especially where you share children and/or financial assets. One solution to remedy this confusion would be a separation agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions that govern the separation. This includes the division of assets and any financial arrangements that need to be made for the future.

A separation agreement, also known as a Deed of Separation, serves as a comprehensive document with the objective of providing a clear framework of what both parties are entitled to and what arrangements have been made, which can then be referred to if any disputes arise.

A separation agreement is sometimes seen as a less final alternative to divorce, which allows separating couples to formalise the terms of their separation whilst leaving room for the possibility of reconciliation later down the line.

Separation agreements can be seen as a suitable option for many couples who do not wish to divorce for religious or cultural reasons, or for those who want to separate but do not feel the need to immediately get a divorce.

Are separation agreements legally binding?

On a technical level, separation agreements, or Deeds of Separation, are not legally binding in their own right. A separation agreement is not a court order, and is drawn up by experienced solicitors, rather than by the court. It is essential that a separation agreement is written by a qualified family solicitor to avoid any mistakes or loopholes being created.

However, despite not being legally binding in its own right, a separation agreement has the potential to be turned into a legally binding consent order later in the divorce process, should you choose to go down that route. Your family solicitor will be responsible for completing the necessary documents.

How much is a separation agreement?

The cost of a separation agreement in the UK varies based on several factors. Primarily, the complexity of the issues at hand and the financial arrangements that need to be made significantly influences the cost.

Furthermore, the level of legal assistance sought will more than likely make a difference to the overall cost, as solicitors will charge more for more complex cases. Couples seeking comprehensive guidance and support from a family law solicitor should expect higher fees compared to those who choose a more do-it-yourself approach, where they may only need assistance with paperwork.

Do I need a separation agreement?

While not everyone needs a separation agreement, they can be particularly useful if you need to make certain financial arrangements and are not ready to divorce (perhaps for religious or cultural reasons).

The level of formality in a separation agreement can be changed according to your preferences but having a written record of your agreements is always advisable. Such agreements can also speed up the legal divorce process if you have already resolved these matters beforehand, potentially reducing your overall legal expenses.

If you maintain an amicable relationship with your ex-partner, an informal or unwritten arrangement might seem the easiest option. However, our solicitors understand that amicable resolutions are not always guaranteed in separations, and relationships can quickly deteriorate, leading one party to change their stance.

This is why creating a formal written agreement in advance with the guidance of legal professionals is beneficial. A properly drafted and legally supported agreement helps ensure clarity and provides necessary safeguards in case of any future disputes or disagreements. It also makes it more likely that the court will take the agreement into account if there is a later dispute.

Can I create a separation agreement on my own without seeking legal assistance?

In theory, it is possible to create a ‘separation agreement’ on your own without seeking legal assistance if you are on good terms and the separation is amicable. However, this agreement will not have legal standing, and should future disputes or complications arise, it is unlikely the court will readily accept your agreement.

If you want a separation agreement that will hold weight, you should instruct a family law solicitor to draft it for you. They will go through a thorough process to gather the relevant information and provide advice on the consequence of the agreement meaning it is more likely to be given weight by a judge.

How would a court take a separation agreement seriously?

If both separating partners have voluntarily entered into a separation agreement, having sought proper legal advice whilst providing complete financial disclosure, and have ensured that there is fairness and reasonableness in the terms, it is unlikely that a judge would intervene to modify the agreement.

Therefore, it is essential to have the separation agreement professionally drafted by a qualified family law solicitor to avoid potential challenges in the future. Taking the time to ensure the agreement’s accuracy will prevent complications if either party later disputes the agreement or seeks a court resolution.

In such cases, a judge would likely see no grounds that justify modifying the agreement when issuing financial orders.

Talk to Woolley & Co Solicitors about planning for a separation agreement

If you are currently going through a separation and have been contemplating getting a separation agreement, we encourage you to contact one of our family law solicitors who will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Our team are all experienced and compassionate professionals, who will do their best to support you through what is surely already a difficult time.

At Woolley & Co Solicitors, our expert family law solicitors will do their utmost to make this process as stress-free and smooth as we can, so you can have the time and clarity to start building yourself back up again. We will make sure you are fully informed of every option available to you and will keep you up to date will any changes that might occur during the process.

To take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation with an expert local family law solicitor, call 0800 321 3832 or complete our quick online form.

Blog Author - Woolley & Co

Woolley & CoWoolley & Co

Woolley & Co, solicitors are divorce and family law solicitors with lawyers based all over the country.


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