Why you need a separation agreement
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.
Learn more about The Legal Implications of Marriage here.
What is 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 law solicitor to advise them.
Is a separation agreement legally binding?
Although not an official court order a properly drawn up separation agreement, where full disclosure has taken place, is likely to be considered by any court asked to rule on its validity.
To increase the likelihood that a court would enforce a separation agreement it is essential that both parties have independent legal advice on the terms of the agreement.
Many couples choose to prepare a separation agreement with a view to this being made formal on divorce, in the form of a consent order.