Sometimes, a couple decides to stop living together but are not sure if they want to get divorced. In these cases, a Separation Agreement can help protect each partner’s interests and those of any children involved. By setting out their arrangements in a formal Separation Agreement, the couple are less likely to disagree about them in the future.
A Separation Agreement has the advantage of enabling the couple to manage their affairs effectively whilst staying married – there is no need to go to court and the possibility of reconciliation is left open. However, if the couple does end up divorcing, the process of making financial and childcare arrangements should be simpler than usual as the court will often uphold the Agreement’s provisions.
The Separation Agreement can be drawn up either for the long term or with a temporary separation in mind. It is flexible and, if both partners agree, can be changed and updated to reflect different needs and circumstances that arise over time.
What a Separation Agreement covers
The Separation Agreement will cover one or more of these issues:
• The agreement to live apart without disturbance from the other partner, and the date the couple separated
• Which partner will live in the family property and who will pay the mortgage
• If the home is to be sold, how the proceeds will be shared out
• Who the children will live with and the access/contact arrangements for the other partner
• Shared access to joint assets such as bank accounts and health insurance, or the division of these assets
• Protection against any debts accrued by the other partner after separation
• Financial support and maintenance for one of the partners and for the children
• The grounds for divorce if the couple goes ahead with it in the future, and who will commence proceedings.
The importance of taking legal advice
Provided it is prepared properly, a Separation Agreement is a legally-binding document. Either partner can take legal action against the other for breach of contract. It is therefore essential that both parties take independent legal advice before drawing up the Separation Agreement, to make sure they understand their rights and obligations.
An experienced family law solicitor will be able to offer expert advice on all aspects of separation as well as ensuring the resulting Separation Agreement is fair and covers all the areas that are important to both parties.
The Co-operative Legal Services offers free legal advice on all aspects of separation and divorce, including Separation Agreements.
Notes to editor
The Co-operative Legal Services provides a range of legal services that are designed to make it easier for people to access high quality legal provision. Our services include will-writing, probate, conveyancing, personal injury, employment law and family law. Free, no obligation legal advice is provided with all these services. We operate nationally and, in the last year, have given legal assistance to thousands of people. You can find out more at www.co-operative.coop/legalservices.
Dave Smith, Public Relations Manager Corporate
Tel: 0161 827 5614
Mob: 07702 152771
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