What is a Separation Agreement?
If you are in the unfortunate situation where your relationship has broken down and you no longer wish to live with your partner, then you may want to consider a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a contract between the parties to a relationship which covers how any assets, debts and responsibilities are to be divided following the separation. They can be used by married and unmarried couples. A Separation Agreement should be drawn up by a family law solicitor and signed by both parties.
If you’re married and do not wish to divorce straight away, then it can be a useful way to agree the terms of your separation. For unmarried couples they can be important as you are not protected in the same way on separation as a married couple would be in a divorce and a Separation Agreement may assist to provide evidence of an agreement.
What is included in a Separation Agreement?
Each agreement is entirely different, and it is tailored exactly to your needs, but typically, this would include:
This could set out things such as:
- What would happen to the home you currently live in?
- If the property is to be sold, what percentage of the sale would each person get?
- How will the assets in the property be divided? For example, who would get the white goods, furniture etc.
A Separation Agreement may include decisions on who pays the following and by when if there are timescales that need to be met:
- Any mortgage or rent payments
- Any loans, credit cards, outstanding debts and including any hire purchase agreements.
- Utility bills such as gas, electric, water, council tax, TV licence and broadband.
Because this agreement is designed to cover what happens after separation, this can also include details as to what happens in relation to any children you have, covering details such as:
- Living arrangements
- How often they will spend time with another parent
- Taking children on holidays
- Child maintenance
However, because during divorce, the Court are not concerned with arrangements for children you would still need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order and we can help you with this.
Is a Separation Agreement legally binding?
A Separation Agreement is not a Court order, therefore, it is not strictly legally binding, however, it is still a contract so it can be challenged in Court if needs be. The Courts will always view a professionally written legal contract more favourably, so we would always recommend you seek legal advice from a family law solicitor who will then draft a robust Separation Agreement on your behalf.
A Separation Agreement can also be used to form the basis of a legally binding Consent Order in any future divorce proceedings. This can often help to speed up the process as an agreement between the parties has essentially already been reached.
Evidence of separation:
The document will on the face of it state the date on which you separated. This would be the date on which you could start the ‘clock’ running if you agreed to divorce on the basis of two years separation by consent.
Can a Separation Agreement be amended?
Circumstances sometimes change and it may be necessary to have your Separation Agreement re-written. It is advisable for you both to seek legal advice on the changes and once agreeable to both parties sign another agreement. If there are changes that you both agree to, you don’t necessarily need to go through the process of amending the formal agreement, but it can be useful to avoid any future disagreement.
If you have Separation Agreement, and need to make changes to this, you are best placed to seek advice from a Family Solicitor.
How can Banner Jones Solicitors help?
We know that families and family life can be complicated. A Separation Agreement is useful to allow parties to take stock and allow the ‘dust to settle’ Our team of Family Law Specialists have a wealth of experience in providing the best outcome for families. With offices in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Mansfield and Dronfield, our team of specialists are more than happy to help.