Why should I have a separation agreement?
You may want to consider a separation agreement if you’re separating from your spouse and want to make arrangements for children and finances.
For example, you may be separating but are not yet be ready for divorce, and you want to leave the path open for reconciliation. Or you may simply want to live apart before you make the decision to divorce. Either way a separation agreement will help you to understand each other’s rights and responsibilities during the separation without the need to go to court.
As there are no proceedings before the court, however, it means the agreement has no power to determine any issues that may be in dispute. Therefore, you and your spouse must be able to reach agreement on all aspects of your separation.
It is not possible to share pensions except by court order on divorce, but you can agree in principle a future intention to share pension benefits. However, this can’t take effect until after an order has been made; meanwhile, the intended provision may be frustrated, for example, if either of you were to die.
Is a separation agreement legally binding?
Separation agreements are not legally binding documents but, provided they’re written properly, they are likely to be taken seriously by the courts in the event of any subsequent challenge that is be brought by either you or your estranged spouse when you later decide to divorce.
What can separation agreements cover?
A separation agreement can specify:
- what should happen to the house now and in the future, for example, whether it should be sold or if one of you (and the children) should have exclusive right to live in the house until a future sale
- what each of you will get by way of a share of the proceeds on a future sale of the property
- should either of you die before a sale, what should happen to your intended share of the property
- how you will split your other assets and possessions now you are not living together anymore
A separation agreement can include decisions for payment of:
- loans, credit cards and hire purchase agreements
- mortgage or rent
- utility bills such as council tax, gas, electricity, water rates, buildings and contents insurance, TV licence etc.
- property maintenance and repairs
- school and medical fees
- whether one spouse should pay maintenance to the other
You can make arrangements for the future care of your children by agreeing:
- who they’ll live with/shared care
- where they’ll live
- how often they’ll spend time with the other parent
- which parent will claim the child benefit and child tax credit
- how much child maintenance should be paid from one parent to the other
Evidence of separation
You may wish to use the separation agreement to evidence the date of your separation, which can often be difficult to agree on – especially if you’re unable to live in separate premises during the separation. It is possible to establish two separate households whilst living under the same roof, but you would need to demonstrate that you are living entirely separately to include arrangements for sleeping, dining, laundry etc.
What can Graysons do to help?
Our family law experts have dealt with many separation agreements and can draft a document tailored to your individual needs. Understanding your needs correctly in the first place helps us to ensure that you get an agreement that you are both happy with and thus more likely to stick to in the future.
We make sure that we use the latest precedents, structure and wording approved and favoured by the courts, which means courts are more likely to uphold the separation agreement.
What will it cost?
We can offer a fixed fee service for your separation agreement. The actual fee will depend on the specific details of your instruction.
Contact our family law experts now to discuss your individual needs or to make an appointment for a confidential meeting.